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CD Reviews: Respond II
Respond II: A Compilation to Benefit Respond Incorporated and the Family Violence Prevention Fund
June 2003
By: Sara Zeno
album cover of Respond 2, available at

Where there is ruin there is hope for treasure
Out of the ashes come comfort and pleasure

Jonatha Brooke, "Steady Pull"

The richness of women lies waiting here, with thirty-two prisms of light filtered through each individual's distinctive spirit. It contains the passion to experience each moment--- wherever it may be on the spectrum of life, death and rebirth--- and the longing to continue the journey.

Respond II aids organizations committed to end domestic violence. Fittingly, the women and their music reflect the diversity contained within all, whatever our situations. In our songs, as in our lives, we are weeping, raging, embracing, striking out, whispering, healing. We are individuals and yet we are all one. The beautiful faces gazing from the center photo are many ages and races: a magnificent mirror of those the music benefits.

This is a recording where the a capella sound of Sweet Honey in the Rock resides comfortably by Sleater-Kinney's punk noisiness and legendary blues woman Odetta spunkily nestles near young folksinger Karaugh Brown. Dolly Parton's bluegrass, which sounds joyous even as she's singing, "But a broken heart won't kill you, you just want to die" stands proudly alongside Neko Case's contemporary rendering of country.

Some songs speak overtly of abusive situations. Suzanne Vega's Luka still matter-of-factly breaks the heart, and Joan Baez's Lily paints the downtrodden woman we've all met. Sweet Honey in the Rock speak their truth candidly in Run, "No one has the right to hurt me / Especially when they say they love me / Apologies don't make anything better / So I'll take my love and my light and leave today." Many others reveal the discovery and fulfillment of healing people and places.

There's also a striking selection of international musicians from Africa, Mexico and Brazil. Angelique Kidjo (whose very name is a melody) contributes the rousing Tumba. Its rhythms conjure women around a skyward-licking fire, letting loose pain and oppression and dancing out the joy of "Enough!"

Respond II is an offering of love. Its treasure is the unearthing of bright, independent-spirited artists in the midst of helping others find their road to shelter.