In this country, many music fans are only vaguely aware of Bruce Cockburn. But in his native Canada, a career stretching back nearly 30 years, and almost as many albums, has been rewarded with more than a dozen gold and a trio of platinum records as well as a slew of Canadian Grammies. His strengths are outstanding musicianship and lyrics that are at once poetic and committed. Long noted for his involvement with such groups as North American Indians, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam, he brings all these influences together to a striking degree on his latest record, The Charity of Night. One song, The Mines of Mozambique, continues a long-standing concern with the dangers of landmines and carries on where the likes of If I Had A Rocket Launcher and Call It Democracy left off. But with players of the calibre of jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, slide guitarist Bonnie Raitt, master bass man Rob Wasserman and singer Maria Muldaur on hand, Cockburn - who performs a short UK tour next month - is never in danger of serving up mere agitprop - or even, come to that, sounding like Sting.

Roger Trapp