EWAN MCLENNAN AND GEORGE MONBIOT
BREAKING THE SPELL OF LONELINESS
Heard the one about the Guardian journalist and the folk musician? Sounds like it could be the start of a satirical skit yet the combination of Ewan McLennan and George Monbiot – Scots folk musician with journalist and author – is a fascinating combo which stretches the bounds of possibility.
Monbiot’s article – spread virally with the heavily quoted “an epidemic is sweeping the world: an epidemic of loneliness…” etc – is the one that kick started the unusual collaboration. Seeking the power of the combination of words (Monbiot) and music (McLennan) to open up the issues of loneliness they have sought to break what they have called “the spell of separation” maybe something that all things considered might be re-named ‘the hell of separation.’ For digging deep, it is indeed a thought provoking set.
Ballads, anthems, some gloomy, some stirring, ‘Breaking The Spell…’ is akin to a social document as it explores scenarios and snapshots of vulnerability – bemoaning the alienation of children from the outdoors and the impoverishing nature of indoor life along with ruminations gathered from observations in late night police stations and queuing in the hardware store. There’s a real craft in the way the McLennan music brings out the power of the words. Along with a small band of musicians adding their parts including Beth Porter and Sid Goldsmith. The passion of Monbiot in the championing the cause of the alienated and the desolate along with the empathy of McLennan and his own personal philosophy and commitment to social justice is a powerful fusion.
The highlight may well be Ewan’s own ‘My Time And Yours’ sees him accompanied by Donald Shaw’s harmonium on a hymn lamenting the erosion of community spirit, yet amongst the melancholy is the hope of ‘Reclaim The Streets’; a celebration and clarion call to the slow re-emergence of a sense of community – replacing the age of loneliness with what has been called “a new age of connection.” An air of the inevitable that the civil rights anthem ‘We Shall Overcome’ wraps up the set; an intelligent and emotional overview of the modern disease of isolation.
You can watch the duo talking about the project here:
You can find Ewan McLennan online here: https://www.ewanmclennan.co.uk/