Luke Wallace is writing folk music for the anthropocene. His new single, “Jetlag”–premiering today on American Songwriter–is a buoyant environmental anthem that sees the Vancouver, British Columbia singer-songwriter bashing nationalism in favor of something more universal and fundamental.
“I love the land more than my country / I love the earth more than the flag,” Wallace sings in the track’s chorus with rising passion. Despite the dire nature of his subject matter, Wallace sounds optimistic: “I figure I might as well do something / about the jetlag.” His voice is wistful then soaring then tender. He ends the song on a clipped version of the chorus that gets to the heart of his message: “I love the land.”
Wallace says “Jetlag” is about the need to prioritize our planet’s health over national interests.
“‘Jetlag’ is about a resetting of priorities,” explains Wallace. “If humans are to survive and thrive, we need to start telling a better story about who we are and where we’re from. Right now, huge amounts of damage and violence is done through the lens of the Nation. This song is about putting the well being of the earth above the interest of some made up thing called a country.”
“Jetlag” is the third single off Wallace’s forthcoming album, What On Earth, following “Pale Kids” and “Biosphere.” If “Jetlag” is a call to action regarding the climate crisis, “Pale Kids” is a call to action regarding the continued violence of racism. “It’s time for the privileged to stand up and make a call / Cause’ it’s only good for some and that ain’t fair at all,” Wallace sings over acoustic finger-plucked guitar in the song’s opening verse. “It’s time for the pale kids to stand up and make some noise / Cause they probably won’t shoot you like they do the darker boys.”
In the final, clamorous verse of “Pale Kids” Wallace sketches out his aspirational vision for a more equitable and just world: “What started as a whisper has grown into a roar / The rising of the people through an open door / Where the corporation crumbles and community soars / And when we’ve got what we need we will need no more.”
“Biosphere” is a slightly more freewheeling affair. “I said that nobody gonna bring me down,” Wallace sings, his voice bobbing and grooving as the track progresses. There’s something exploratory and self-assuring in his lyrics: “I’ll sail the world on the seven seas / chasing opportunity.”
What On Earth is Wallace’s fifth studio release, following 2018’s Us. That album captured the singer-songwriter tackling political, social, and environmental issues across eight lo-fi live songs.
In “Wild,” Wallace tells stories of “singing for the people out on the frontlines who’ve been fighting for the land this whole damn time,” of “a rhythm in the water,” of “the horrors of all these colonial ways,” and of “the Salmon, the life of the land.” In “Turning the Tide,” he sings of “coming together, sticking through all the stormy weather,” and of being “in love with the islands, in love with the shores.” And in “We Will Not Be Separated,” one line stands out in particular: “I love the land like I love my brother.”
These tracks are jangly, activist folk numbers that seek to inspire, to heal, and to mobilize. “Jetlag” does all of those things, but it also–like much of the fare on Us–frames our humanity as inseparable from our planet’s health.
“The earth, the land, and ocean–these things are real and need to be prioritized,” says Wallace. “Beautiful things happen when we remember where we are actually from.”What On Earth is out March 6 via Come to Life Music.