Album of the Week: Brother Ali, 'All The Beauty In This Whole Life'

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Brother Ali, 'All The Beauty In This Whole Life'
Brother Ali, 'All The Beauty In This Whole Life' (Rhymesayers Entertainment)
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It's been five years since Brother Ali's last album, Mourning In America and Dreaming In Color. Clearly, this time away found Brother Ali on a spiritual quest to find out what's on the other side of fear that devalues our humanity. While Ali in no way claims to have all the answers, damn — does he ask the best questions or what?!

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•  Brother Ali celebrates album release in The Current's studios

Equal parts history lesson, autobiography and love letter, All The Beauty In This Whole Life delivers Brother Ali's bone-cracking messages while maintaining a beautiful amount of gratitude. This attitude of gratitude is what sets Brother Ali apart for me.

This album finds Ali telling stories, living very much in the now, but with a profound understanding of history. To search for all the beauty in this life is especially trying these days and a noble undertaking to be sure. I've always gotten the sense that Brother Ali writes from a place of someone who has been to the puppet show and seen the strings.

Songs such as "Dear Black Son" is a powerful personal and social message, expressing both sentiments of community unification and outrage at the treatment of black lives. "Pray For Me" recounts childhood bullying yet still maintains compassion even when wounded by such thoughtlessness. "Can't Take That Away" stands out as a love letter penned to someone who understands what it's like to be loved and accepted wholly. Actually, who knows if it's even about a specific person? It could be an ode to the love of one's own life and opportunity and what we choose to do with that.

All The Beauty In This Whole Life finds the songwriter living the life of a curious student as well as a creative teacher. In the song "Pen To Paper," Ali sings, "This is more than music to me." That has always been clear to me, and I believe this is what makes Brother Ali such an important artist and poet.

Resources


Brother Ali - official Rhymesayers page

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