Fans of Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn wonít be surprised that to lean that September 11 and its aftermath have breathed new political fire into his guitar-driven songcraft. Cockburn is, as this discís grooving, rap-inspired lead track notes, "Tried and Tested," and the staples of his best work are all here, from soulful love songs that cut to the bone ("Open" and "Celestial Horses") to vivid, spoken-word musical travelogues ("Postcards from Cambodia" and "Youíve Never Seen Everything," both rich with disturbing imagery) to political satire ("Trickle Down") and anthemic assessments of the state of the world ("All Our Dark Tomorrows"). Itís all bolstered by Cockburnís seasoned guitar playing.
What sets Youíve Never Seen Everything apart from previous albums is its bitter edge, which makes a happier tune like the swinging, trancy "Wait No More" particularly welcome. A resurgent jazz sensibility pervades, especially on "Trickle" and a sweet ballad called "Everywhere Dance," and Cockburn dresses a few tracks with electronic loops. He tends to be at his most powerful when he asks big questions, like whether weíll "fear the spirit when it comes to call." The undercurrent of anger here certainly fits the times, but itís not the whole story: "Open" is one of the most uplifting songs heís ever penned.