I found it hard to identify what hit me first (and hardest) with Mark Shepherd’s latest single, World on Fire. In my first instance getting acquainted with the Cambridge native singer-songwriter, I found myself trying to form parallels between his music and other similar artists I’m familiar with, but with no success.

Scott Walker’s distinctive delivery and political tint, Johnny Cash’s acoustic guitar and prominent rhythm, Lou Reed’s identifiable baritone. Mark Shepherd has all of these things, but he’s remarkably his own, unique thing. World on Fire is his latest, heartfelt single.

Climate change, political unrest and rampaging corruption are just a few of the things Mark Shepherd holds against humankind. With us living in constant denial, Mark muses over how there can be no doubt that we have set the world on fire, and that it falls on our shoulders to put this fire out before it takes us all. This woke stance is set on top of a heavily emotional musical base. Revolving around Mark’s strummed acoustic rhythm, and a steady, solid drumbeat, the chords are at once full of hope and desolation. The one-of-a-kind, nasal baritone of Shepherd is commandeering, and his vocal delivery is nuanced and heartfelt. The production is clean, and all instruments get their fair space in the mix. A wholesome song and a desperate call to action.

Mark Shepherd’s unique musical personality has certainly drawn me in. The immensely talented Englishman has a sound and a cause that are both equally compelling and eye-opening. I’d call this song enjoyable, but with its lyrics, this seems inappropriate. This is a song that should be listened to with open eyes and ears. A call to arms.

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