Submitted by Sandy Graham
When we reached the end of 2020, it could certainly be said that “never has there ever been a year like this.” Then, 2021 came along and upped the ante with more chaotic uncertainty. Now, with just one-third of another year behind us, British-Canadian singer-songwriter, composer, and multi-award-winning producer Chris Birkett is musically posing the question that’s on everyone’s minds: ‘What about you, 20-2-2? in this, his new single “2022” – check it out on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/VRaERt3ddBo
New Year’s Eve makes most of us reflective of the year that was and anticipatory of what’s to come but, for Chris Birkett, it also generated a creative spark.
On “New Year’s Eve 2021, I was reflecting on the events of the previous year and wondering if we would have a year like the last two years,” recalls Birkett. “Climate change issues, space stations for the super-rich, conspiracy theories, and of course, the COVID restrictions all had a major effect on society.”
‘Isn’t it the year COVID’s gone? Isn’t this why we’re holding on? Now, we’re in the year 20-2-2’
In addition to the devastating effect the pandemic has had on public health, there have been equally devastating side effects for small businesses and those who make their living in the arts — like Birkett does.
“COVID-19 personally affected me and other musicians in a big way,” he notes. “Most of the venues that I had been playing in had shut down. We were all struggling to survive and rely on government aid.”
Is 2022 a recovery year or a rehash of the previous two miserable years with unwelcome new crises like the Russia-Ukraine War? That’s the main question that Birkett poses among other burning questions in his new, rhythmic pop-rock anthem. With an insistent and infectious riff and groove that underlines the urgency of putting distance between us and the years gone by, “2022” even gives a new, pandemic-inspired purpose to a classic hit by The Police when Birkett pays vocal homage to it at the end of the bridge.
‘The Brave New World is now the scared new world Everyone can sing the song – “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”’
A producer, arranger, and sound engineer on a slew of international, award-winning projects, Chris Birkett is also an accomplished guitarist and a prolific songwriter, and creator of six albums of his own music; two were recorded and released in the UK with the band Omaha Sheriff and produced by the legendary Tony Visconti (David Bowie, The Moody Blues), and four solo albums. Two were released while Birkett lived and worked in France from 1993 to 2011. Making his home in Canada since 2012, Birkett has also released Be Creative featuring contributions from Glenn Milchem (Blue Rodeo) and Rik Emmett, and 11:11 as the band The Free Spirits. In February 2021, he released the one-off single “Precious Love” for his documentary filmmaker wife Joan Prowse.
Birkett’s diverse music reflects a wide range of sources from which he draws inspiration. “My ideas for songs come from observing society, humanity, and life on earth,” he says. “I have been a truth seeker all my life and when I discover a new truth I like to share it using the Universal language of music.”
His love for sharing that creative passion has led Chris Birkett to some of the biggest successes of his varied and inspiring career, which began as a guitarist and background vocalist for the 1960s UK pop band The Love Affair and touring their hit “Everlasting Love”. An expansion into sound engineering and producing while in the UK and beyond has led him to collaborate with an eye-popping A-list of international artists including Talking Heads, Dexys Midnight Runners, Alison Moyet, The Pogues, Bob Geldof, Quincy Jones, Mel Brooks, and Steve Earle, as well as to produce Sinéad O’Connor’s massive #1 hit, “Nothing Compares 2 U”. All told, these and other collaborations have sold over 100 million records and earned four Canadian JUNOs, a GRAMMY, a Polaris Music Prize and three international AMPEX Golden Reel Awards for excellence in the music business.
Birkett’s longest and most fruitful collaborative relationship has been with the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie. He has played guitar with Sainte-Marie since 1993, and co-produced five albums with her — including Running For the Drum (2009), Power in the Blood (2016), and Medicine Songs (2017). Birkett is also producing and co-writing with a number of up-and-coming Indigenous artists including Inuit singer-songwriter Angela Amarualik for the Ottawa-based label Hitmakerz.
In addition to currently co-producing Buffy Sainte-Marie’s new album project, Birkett plans to release a new solo album, Songs from the Kauai Hotel Room, as well as a collection of fun-loving songs with his new collective The Happy Campers in the coming months.
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