While we’re not here to ruin your New Year festivities, the following song’s narrative is part of the life of many single fathers. From Sjælland, Denmark, Bruno Skibbild is unloading a heavy one: “I wanted to tell the story about a personal family nightmare that me and my children experienced in 2007. I was wrongfully accused of the abuse of my children and the County took them into custody without any further investigations than the original accusation. It took me 8 months to get my children released from the institution where they were kept isolated. Now being an artist, music helps me push away the trauma through singing it out.” And as a matter of fact, the song in itself, without minding the lyrics, is a force of good feelings and uptempo guitar kicks. Add the words in, and Bruno’s Children becomes a dark masterpiece, a record that’s difficult to match in meaning and style. Sure it sounds like a classic Americana Rock record but it’s nowhere near the usual theme. It’s as real and solid as the phone you’re holding in your hand right now.
“This is a song about Bruno’s Children/ It’s a story about power abuse/ This is a story about Hometown City Hall/ They didn’t speak the truth,” almost immediately follows Bruno after the beaming electric guitar and loud, stadium-like sounding drums. A feel of the ’80s is acutely felt from the get-go and consequentially puts the listener in a nostalgic mood. The singer’s voice sounds almost jovial. And yet… At a second listen, you can hear that the gleam of radiance is anger mixed with irony. Very much like when life keeps gifting you one disaster after another to a point of madness where you just start laughing at your situation because you’ve become incredulous.
The anger starts slowly revealing itself as the chorus fades away letting the verse take the lead: “County man knocked on my door/ Told me they had locked up my kids/ I lay down on the floor/ Crying out my bits/ My children were just 4 years old/ And the County hurt them bad.” By the 4 years old bit, you can touch this man’s pain. He’s very much shouting at the people from his past. While we still have to focus our attention on the production and technical execution of Bruno’s Children, we can’t overlook the significance and staggering honesty of the singer. The noticeable roar in both the artist’s tone and the instruments accompanying him, leave the audience in somewhat a shock. What we thought we were going to hear in the beginning, couldn’t be further from what this song is truly about.
Bruno’s warm, yet flustered voice threatens to go off-pitch when the singer yells but he marvelously controls it and sticks to the main melodic motif of the record: “A woman accused me of abuse/ County believed her for a while/ They knew the truth by one week/ They knew that it was just a lie/ But County kept my kids locked up/ Nonetheless for more than 200 days.” Hearing of children locked up for over 200 days sends shudders down the spine. This old system has to stop. In no normal world, it is okay for children to be kept away from their parent when it was proven they did not harm them in any way or form. The aggressive singing bordering continuous shouting becomes a perfectly engaging factor now that we’re so deep in. We want to shout ourselves.
We can all agree the hook is extremely catchy but we also observe how the verse abides by a hook-like repetition as well. The notes are the same, the words change. So the entire Bruno’s Children feels like two intertwined choruses. And we should thank Bruno for this. Had this record been delivered in Rap style or at a slower pace, many would have stopped listening by now. But since it is most pleasant to the senses, you stay listening albeit it being extremely uncomfortable: “My children were crying and shouting/ “We want to go home to Dad”/ But County played deaf/ Kept my children locked up/ That was power abuse/ And it was just pure bad.”
“They knew they were lying – but they did it anyway – anyway/ They knew they were wrong – but they did it all anyway/ Anyway/ My children came home/ With scars so deep in their souls/ We fought to get through/ With open scars in our hearts/ That’s what my County did/ To me and my kids,” ends the singer his heart-shattering yet astoundingly inspiring sonic work. It’s not one of those direct If I could do then so can you – type of inspiration. It’s from the category: This is what I’ve been through and I am now singing about it to you.
Bruno’s Children pulls the audience into a complex and heavy subject, that of losing your kids to the broken system while concomitantly delivering hearty Rock and optimistic tones of instruments. A song you know the artist couldn’t have pulled off unless he has lived every word of it.
Song Credits: Bruno Skibbild – Singer, Songwriter; Emil Magnus Stormdal Bæk – Back Vocalist; Johan August Stormdal Bæk – Electric Guitar Player; Jeppe Mangurten Tørsleff – Bass Guitar Player.
Written by Mariana Berdianu
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