Seth Bernard's homespun album, "Let Love Light the Way," glows in dark days

Seth Bernard "Let Love Light the Way"

This summer solstice of 2020, Seth Bernard's new album, "Let Love Light the Way," emerged glistening from the shadowy depths of quarantine. These love songs to a struggling community are raw, challenging, and responsible to their roots in the darkness as much as they stretch tenderly toward the hopeful light of transformative love.


"Let Love Light the Way" is an immediate commentary on the turbulent months before its release. Yet it is also a timeless, expansive reflection on a lifelong commitment to inner awakening, activism, fatherhood, caring for communities and ecosystems, and making art with integrity and a higher purpose of contributing to the common good.

Seth Bernard recorded the whole album on a 4-track cassette recorder and played all the instruments. He creates grounding, gentle grooves with Casio beats, reveals the supportive collaboration of the inner chorus with the layering of his own voice, and blends organic and digital instruments into a soothing lake of sounds to swim in. He builds up to some more energizing rock anthems near the end with "All This Time" and "People Rise Up" that do their part to help us "shake off the shame and stay awake" in the face of apathy or inaction.

This low-fi, vulnerable music makes you feel like you are in the bedroom studio along with Seth as a lucid stream-of-musical-consciousness flows directly to you, its most vital and necessary listener, at least for this moment.

Characteristically, Bernard recognizes the many others who have made his life's work fruitful along the way, from the inspiration of his daughter in "When You Leave Home," to an homage to John Prine embodied as a wise tree in "White Pine," to whom he sings: "The songs that you made, they live with the wind / They keep our hearts strong for the times we live in."

While many of us could apply those same lines to Seth himself, he also makes you, the listener, feel that you have something important to contribute to this conversation, as in the alternating refrain of "One Song": "All it takes is one song / one smile / one friend." And you, Seth wants to tell you, have the one that we need.

-Sari Brown