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Our Fathers and the Things They Left Behind

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Our Fathers and the Things They Left Behind album cover
01
Prologue, Meditation
0:58
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02
For Hugh Thompson, Who Stood Alone. Vietnam, My-Lai Massacre, 1968
7:05
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03
The Sins of My Fathers
4:48
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04
My Heart is Weighed and Found Wanting, Kabul
4:42
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05
Survey for a Distribution of Winter Clothing
3:59
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06
My Father's God
3:43
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07
Hugh Thompson, The Aftermath
5:18
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08
Message From The Moon
3:24
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09
Freeing My Heart
4:32
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10
Epilogue, Celebration
3:45
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Album Information

Total Tracks: 10   Total Length: 42:14

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They Say All Music Guide

Lots of people, celebrities and otherwise, talk a good game about their social consciences, but it’s rare to find someone willing to walk the walk to the extent of Florida-based singer/songwriter Ryan Costello. In 2002, as Afghanistan was becoming a war zone amid the fall of the Taliban and the search for Osama bin Laden, Costello traveled to the country as a volunteer for a humanitarian organization, working directly with refugees uprooted by the violence. Returning to America, Costello founded the Oaks and wrote a song cycle concerning not just the war in Afghanistan, but the nature of war and its effect on humanity in general. (Not only that, but 50-percent of every album sale and download is donated to the Global Hope Network, for its programs helping the widows and orphans of Afghanistan.) Costello is only barely using poetic language to shade his meaning here: song titles include “For Hugh Thompson, Who Stood Alone (My Lai Massacre, Vietnam, 1968)” and “Survey for a Distribution of Winter Clothing” (a found sound recording of an Afghani humanitarian distribution point overlaid with limpid acoustic doodling), and the lyrics are similarly plainspoken and direct. Musically, the album is unexpectedly lovely, featuring delicate, largely acoustic alt-folk songs decorated with unexpected accents like vibes, horns, accordions, and bells, not far removed from the likes of Iron & Wine, Smog, or even the new acid folk revivalists of the Devendra Banhart stripe. There’s an undeniable sense that Costello and the Oaks are preaching to the choir with Our Fathers and the Things They Left Behind: it seems unlikely that there are really that many indie rockers circa 2006 who really need to be convinced that war is not necessarily a good thing, or that those who need to be told this are likely to pick up this album. But it’s a difficult record not to admire on several levels. – Stewart Mason

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