“Don’t tell me your position, don’t need no sympathy,” California singer-songwriter Tré Burt sings in his piercing new folk polemic. “Your bleeding heart’s complicit if you ain’t in the street.”
That song is “Under the Devil’s Knee,” a haunting folk-roots number that mourns the lives of George Floyd, Eric Garner, and Breonna Taylor, all of whom were killed by police officers.
“I wanted to reinstate the humanity of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and so many other brothers and sisters slain by police in the way I know how,” Burt says of the new acoustic track. “I wanted to immortalize their dignity and make the work easy for future historians and remind the present that no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, this is about actual pain and real human suffering caused by a system of governance that is morally bankrupt. This I felt was my duty as an American songwriter to do.”
Burt is joined by a Leyla McCalla, Sunny War, and Allison Russell on harmony vocals, turning Burt’s solitary plea into a powerful chorus of black voices shining a stark light on injustice in the long tradition of topical folk protest singing. Proceeds from “Under the Devil’s Knee” will benefit the Community Justice Exchange’s National Bail Fund Network.
Burt’s debut album, Caught It From the Rye, was released earlier this year on John Prine’s Oh Boy Records.