Kenny Hutson, touring member for VoL and Over the Rhine, sweetens up
songs from Arthur Alligood, with fine results.
I Have Not Seen the Wind
Artist: Arthur Alligood
Times: 10 tracks / 39:45 minutes
The Phantom Tollbooth hasn¹t visited Arthur Alligood¹s music since Formerly in 2005, and a lot has happened with this indie singer-songwriter. Notably, Alligood's last music release, Full Circle, was available free (still is -- only the enhanced version with extra tracks is for sale).
Presenting nine new songs and re-recording one from Full Circle, Alligood brought on Kenny Hutson (who has been a touring member of Vigilantes of Love and Over the Rhine) to produce the new project, I Have Not Seen the Wind. The results are excellent, with Alligood's lyrics demanding the center of attention exactly the way Full Circle did -- even when his last project was almost 100% Alligood's voice and guitar with few overdubs. For this record, Hutson sweetens up these ten songs, a natural progression from Full Circle.
"Show Some Heart," the opening track, sets that pace nicely--as anyone who has heard the last project will slip comfortably into familiar guitar, with sweet organ, bass, and drums, in a human being-to human being plea. Don't get relaxed too soon! Producer Hutson works some real magic with the re-working of Full Circle's "Keep Your Head Up," a plea from God to the downtrodden: "I've never seen you not in a thousand parts / you keep breaking ... what do you need besides my heart." The song's fantastic, and the arrangement is a cross between the Byrds, Sandra McCracken (think "Justice Will Roll Down" from In Feast or Fallow) and the Traveling Wiburys.
Comparisons to other music groups are necessary to explain what Kenny Hutson's producing Arthur Alligood sounds like. "Keep Your Head Up" is like the gussied-up frontispiece. Let's continue....
Alligood doesn't write humorous songs, and that's where Hutson completes the equation here. After two introspective songs, "Turn It Over" and "Piece Me Together" (this one's my personal favorite: "I can't make it on my own / you'll have to piece me together" -- a sincere prayer), the music pace shifts to "Make Her Smile," with a Rolling Stones-cum-Ian Hunter Rant Band arrangement that absolutely rocks! But wait. The next song, "Gavel," a be-careful-not-to-judge tune, has an arrangement that might give a nod to the late Gram Parsons. The tracking from straight-ahead rock and roll to country music unusually flows here. I like it! The arrangements of "Where the Storm Meets the Sun" and "Time You Know" sound like they might be from a Fleetwood Mac songbook -- very smooth, complimenting excellent lyrics.
Alligood saves two of the lyrically strongest offerings towards the end, as the title track explores many things solid and abstract that the narrator has seen, even "I've seen parting be such sweet sorrow / but I have not seen the wind." Listen carefully to see there's belief in the unseen. "Come On Something" is a plea much like "Piece Me Together," which completes I Have Not Seen the Wind very well.
The only shortcoming--and it's a big one--is that I Have Not Seen the Wind runs just under 40 minutes long. Listeners are certain to be hungry for more. While shortcoming, this is a good thing!
Olin Jenkins April 17, 2010