It was in 1997, at 28 years old, and at the end of a year of travelling throughout Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and particularly, throughout war ruined Bosnia-Herzegovina – it was during this time when Jon discovered what kind of song he wanted to write. It was in 2005, 8 years later, he decided he was ready to write and sing that song.
No Mean City, released in 2006, was the first in a trilogy of albums of sparse instrumentation and densely layered poetry – a singular writing style characterized by paradox, understatement, overstatement, and by allusion to Western literary and folk traditions. It was followed by Ours and the Shepherds in 2007 and Moth Nor Rust in 2009. Each album is imprinted with a theme: architecture and homelessness of the modern urban soul; war; and all the things that neither moth nor rust may touch: love, hope, faith, memory, gratitude, trust, inspiration, and forgiveness.
Delicate Cages was initially released independently in November, 2011 but was formally re-released by Borealis Records in May 2012. The album earned Jon his third ‘Songwriter of the Year’ nomination in 5 years from The Canadian Folk Music Awards. Like its predecessors, the 11 songs on Delicate Cages were inter-woven to the larger common themes of love and fear; and freedom and imprisonment. The idea was inspired by the Robert Bly poem, Taking The Hands: ‘Taking the hands of someone you love,/you see they are delicate cages.’ Also consistent with Jon’s albums, the song subjects were as wide ranging as they were topical and controversial: the Alberta tar sands (Fort McMurray); Bill 101 and Quebec’s language laws (Hudson Girl); Palestinian suicide bombers (Son of Hamas); Bosnian child soldier turned Canadian mixed martial arts fighter (Cage Fighter); and so-called ‘Honour Killing’ (The Lonesome Death of Aqsa Parvez). Morally and politically ambiguous, Delicate Cages, offered what Jon has since called, “necessary and alternative understandings of ‘hope’ and ‘grief’ that are neither sanitized, dumbed down, nor cheapened or degraded by the modern lie of ‘closure.’”
“(Brooks) speaks and sings words that need to be spoken and sung and he does it beautifully, perfectly, and with absolute finesse.” – Rod Kennedy, Founder and Producer of The Kerrville Folk Festival, Kerrville, TX
“Brooks stands among an exalted few in the enduring Canadian song tradition – Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Fred Eaglesmith, Bruce Cockburn – as a lyricist, composer and performer with a fierce commitment to his craft and his vision.” Greg Quill, The Toronto Star
“Brooks follows the tradition of poking holes in accepted truths, a path blazed by the likes of Woody Guthrie and John Lennon.” Penguin Eggs
“He is by turns metaphorical and metaphysical; at times he examines the small details of life, at others, he soars above human struggles seeking something higher; his gritty voice is infinitely kind and gentle. Mature, wise, and intrepid – somehow Jon Brooks sings a path to the mysterious and complex essence of the human condition.” Julie Miller, CFLX 95,5 Sherbrooke, PQ
“Political songwriting’ is all too often assumed to be shouty simplistic protest, and all too often it is and therefore tends to be ignored…Brooks knows this and his songs are songs first and messages second…a powerful and at times brutally clear-sighted vision armed only with an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, and a gritty ragged voice…Brooks is a star in the making.” Maverick Magazine, UK
“DELICATE CAGES is the most profound album of 2012.” Robert McCourty, Vancouver Islands Folk Festival Artistic Director
- See more at: http://www.jonbrooks.ca/