Luke Wallace’s What on Earth is an album’s worth of anthems for a brighter day.
If you’re craving the calm of a campfire sing-along, Luke Wallace’s album What on Earth is the next best thing while waiting for physical distancing restrictions to come to an end. I first listened to this mix of upbeat folk songs from my apartment balcony, on the eighth week of self-isolating from COVID-19. While gazing at the two pines that stand between my block of concrete cells and the next, What on Earth brought me back to the lake, the land, and the trees allowed to reach maturity.
Few of us can deny an increasing appreciation for the great outdoors as we are compelled to remain inside. What on Earth awakens that appreciation like a fresh breath of air, connecting us “with the birds in the biosphere” on the first track. Like a contemporary, Canadian Bob Dylan, Luke Wallace blends optimism and joy with protests against the decline of the natural world. Although the mix of guitar, banjo, and pounding drums is enough to get your spirits up, the message is a heavy one. Doubling as an environmental activist, Wallace writes from his home along the coast of Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. for the preservation of our natural lands.
Each song is a story of connection, love, and a vital appeal to respect the environment. The song “Jetlag” criticizes the fetishization of harmful industries like oil, logging, and travel, referencing the decline of beloved lands: “I knew a place down by the water I used to go, I used to go before it became a place that is now underwater…shame”. The timeliness of Wallace’s message strikes hard in this time of crisis; the global pandemic demonstrates more than ever how important it is to prioritize the well being of the planet and its people.
In a way, it’s a call to arms to take action against climate change; to “learn to go easy on the earth and lightly on the water” for the sake of future generations, as he sings on “Sons & Daughters”. Politics aside, What on Earth is a fun, easy listen that brings the carefree calm of cabin living to isolated Canadian households; a contemporary, goodhearted, sing-song protest. At the very least, it is an anthem for a brighter day.