David Clayton-Thomas takes aim at a broken juvenile justice system in his frank and uncompromising new single and lyric video — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
The latest preview of the former Blood, Sweat and Tears frontman’s forthcoming album Say Somethin’, the bluesy, Tom Waits-ian piano-ballad waltz The System is timed to coincide with the singer’s upcoming benefit concert for Peacebuilders Canada. The Toronto not-for-profit has diverted more than 1,100 adolescents from the courts before trial through its Restorative Youth Circles Program — easily saving taxpayers $45 million — and has decreased school suspension rates by 60-80% through its Restorative Schools Program. Proceeds from Clayton-Thomas’s Nov. 20 concert at Toronto’s Koerner Hall in the Telus Centre for Performance and Learning will fund Peacebuilders’ Public Education and Advocacy Program to promote and support restorative approaches to adolescent conflict.
Social advocacy, political commentary and commitment to a worthy cause are nothing new for rock legend Clayton-Thomas, who gave us Brainwashed and Spinning Wheel in the ’60s. Now a veteran songwriter at the peak of his power, he trains his eye on life in the 21st century on Say Somethin’, a searing look at the times we live in, and a ferfent prayer for the future. It has songs that confront the most important issues of the day: Climate change, immigration, gun control, politics, the justice system. Fearless and confrontational, Clayton-Thomas’s lyrics are sharp and to the point, written with disarming honesty and a wicked sense of humour, creating a satirical musical portrait of the crazy, upside-down, politically charged world of 2020.
Then there is that voice. It’s drenched in the blues with hard-swinging jazz overtones, not to mention, soulful, original and completely unique. The man has long had a sound all his own — and the singer who gave us You’ve Made Me So Very Happy and God Bless the Child has matured. His voice has grown richer and more controlled; there is an easy confidence to his singing that comes from decades on the road. Say Somethin’ takes you on a journey through the foibles and fantasies of life in the digital age. It defies convention and thumbs its nose at the system.