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Music Review - `What Kind of World?` by Arlan Feiles (jh)

Arlan Feiles -  What Kind Of World? (click on image to watch video)

1 January 2020 


Visit Arlan Feiles’ website and you’ll learn that he was discovered and mentored by the late great Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Record Producer Tom Dowd. You’ll also find that he’s released six records already, and has his music heard in many TV programs and movies, including the trailer for the Academy, awarded film “The Dallas Buyers Club”. Look further and you’ll note that he’s worked with The Band, Dave Grohl, and others.  Listen to his gospel-folk fueled music and his deep gravelly voice that slightly evokes Tom Waits, and then ask why you’ve never noticed him before. 

Maybe Feiles stepped away from his acclaimed Florida-based band Natural Causes at an inopportune time to go solo. Maybe his deep commitment to civil rights and voting rights speaks to a narrow rather than a broader audience. Yet, this commitment resulted in his song “Viola,” written for Civil rights martyr Viola Liuzzo song and later in his Documentary Short “50 Miles,” about his journey to Selma for the 50th anniversary of the march on Montgomery, AL in 1965. Maybe you have heard of these.

This long preamble then suggests that Feiles’ sociopolitical material is essentially his niche. The title track poses the question about what we are leaving for our children. The standout track, “You Can’t Ban My Love” speaks to the power of love overcoming unjust law. Feiles longs for a world hope and unity, not the one we may, unfortunately, endure as rendered in his “50 Years of Kavanaugh.” Feiles certainly believes that music can be a healing force and he crafts melodies that soothe rather than draw undue attention to daunting messages. It’s a sparse sound, often delicate with piano and strings, with female harmonies, at times sounding like a choir and at others as just a singular harmony, framing his deep voice. The claps and upbeat nature of the title track (despite the subject matter) signal an energetic sound that unfortunately fades as the album unfolds, with several tunes becoming introspective and slowly paced.

The folk-gospel quality of his songs is a bit reminiscent of the first two Elton John albums with other standouts “I Know A Song,” This Broken Heart,” and “Room to Grow.” Yes, Feiles is a serious artist of deep conviction. Like those before him, Richie Havens and Odetta in particular, many of these messages have been heard now for sixty years but Feiles’ emotive approach brings new urgency and a cry for solidarity at a time when we badly need it


Jim Hynes



Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here




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