James Billett is a new voice on the folk scene. Not someone to quietly sit back and let the world pass him by, instead he has chosen to speak out about those issues which he deems unjust – namely, homophobia and racism.
Whilst these are huge topics to condense into one solitary song, Billett tackles the theme of racism to perfection on his latest release, ‘What Will They Say About Us’ – an honest indictment of the way that the world works with an incredibly powerful video attached.
Making use of the gritty underbelly of Manhattan, New York, the video follows the journeys of different young Black people making their way through daily life, and all the difficulties which they come up against. Billett’s vocal is pained and questioning; we see him in silhouette in a motel room and not in full profile, ensuring that his presence is felt as an observer and not put in the centre of someone else’s struggle.
The song heartbreaking, the video powerful – this is some of the most hard-hitting and important folk music to come out in recent years.