Jon Brooks’ latest record, Delicate Cages, takes its title from the Robert Bly poem, Taking the Hands: “Taking the hands of someone you love / You see they are like delicate cages…” Delicate Cages aims to reveal the complicit nature of good and evil, love and fear, and freedom and imprisonment. He promises freedom to all who choose love over fear. Jon debuted in 2006 with No Mean City, a portrait of Toronto homelessness and a weighty exposition of the modern urban soul’s condition and moral fatigue. A year later Jon won acclaim with the release of Ours and the Shepherds, a CD of Canadian war stories. The collection earned Jon a Songwriter of the Year nomination at the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Awards. Ours and the Shepherds is now in the collections of the Canadian War Museum and the John McRae Society. 2009 brought Moth Nor Rust, an album of songs looking inward to what “neither moth nor rust can touch.” Moth Nor Rust earned Jon his second Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for Songwriter of the Year, and the music and lyrics were published by the esteemed literary quarterly Exile Editions.
Jon’s music is filled with grey and morally ambiguous characters living on the outskirts of approval, but his mandate is unequivocal: “I’m not interested in writing ‘happy songs’ – I’ve chosen to write healing songs and for that reason, I’m obliged to reveal a wound or two now and then. That said, I’m less interested in writing ‘unhappy songs’: I want to write hopeful songs, inspiring songs and I expect I owe today’s listener some compelling argument as to why we should believe our present world can be improved, or healed. A song’s highest aim is to invoke empathy – to offer that rare sight of ourselves in others. In this sense, the songwriter is simply trying to ‘politicize love,’ hence my contention: today’s songwriter should be a lobbyist for compassion to be our principle representative in government office.’