The world seems filled with people oozing fear. Music’s art is humanity’s way out of the darkness, illuminating the way to a brighter tomorrow. Rainy‘s Fell For the World blows fresh, needed sounds into my soul. Though surfacing seemingly from nowhere, this third album may help satisfy humanity’s undiscovered craving in these challenging times.
Scientific predictions suggesting there would be more plastics in the world’s oceans seemed unlikely until organizations like Ocean CleanUp found a solution. Similarly, powerful storytelling from great singer-songwriters can pushback on the insanity, a counterattack globally on all the panic from COVID-19. Calling out the truth in song, multi-instrumentalist Rainy is a road dog, having toured the world crafting messages set to music. Beyond just an idea, Rainy has dedicated his album to positive change. Committing proceeds from this album at the moment to The Ocean CleanUp may seem like a tiny gesture, yet each small change we all make in a global community impacts us all.
Rainy’s stint as resident engineer at the Lincolnshire’s Chapel Studios helped him craft an eclectic album on this third go-round. These twelve tracks, whose journey crosses a spectrum of styles, is like a fresh breeze as one sets sail into a new adventure. Opening with “Strangest of Circumstance” seems the perfect introduction. Rhythmic intricacies combine with a compositional style that feels like a mixture of Dave Mathews and Jack Johnson. Vocal tones caress, both familiar and unique all at once. Crazy, right?
“Change” is nothing short of genius musically. Compositionally functioning in a space between jazz, singer-songwriter, and folk-rock, the rhythmic force of Rainy’s guitar work juxtaposed against bass and percussion launches itself into one of my favorite tracks of the year. Lush, intricate truths feel prophetic. Wow! Following with “Slow Down” and its funky groove, Ben Harper’s blues groove finds its home. Production values define this record, and the artist’s experience as an engineer shines here in each gritty gang vocal. Providing a rest, the title track’s syncopated rhythms sweetly sprinkled with mandolin breathes with life. “Fell for the World” defines Rainy the man and the artist’s vision, one instrument at a time.
Despite our digitized world, an album is still an art form, like a collection of poems or short stories. “Still Here” shines as a simple song of defiance, reminiscent in spirit to George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” with its hope of a new day. In contrast, “Freedom Bound” feels like a percussive anthem, carrying us all into this weird future in which we coexist. Okay–a really bizarre, socially distant moment we share, despite where in the world we are. Prophetic genius rises from songwriters who can create poetry from the melody. Landscapes vibrant with life dance under the stars, each note painting the possibility of who we are together. Now, it’s just remembering we can be more than what we fear.
Gritty emotions bleed through “Not Lead to the Light” in each rhythmic vibe. Lush vocals blend with eastern instrumentation to create a hypnotic mix. It’s stark, elemental, foreboding brilliance reminiscent of Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals’ finest work. Stories need some sort of resolution, and the calypso feel of “Get Your Fire” is a celebration pointing toward conclusion. Compositionally, each note and space between creates a dream state where an ocean rocks the soul. The guitar work shines, a place where intricate hand drums, bongo, and percussion can weave freely like waves of sound. Remember this is a journey, and “Home” is that resting place. Soulful truth, layered vocals with acoustic guitar and banjo reinforce the fact that beyond all else, great songwriters are poets wrapping their sonnets in notes.
Heading out of an album like this,“Riverway” brings us all back to the artist’s purpose with this album through a reflection on its original purpose. All proceeds from this record are earmarked for The Ocean CleanUp, who is also addressing pollution in global waterways. Sure, we are all just focusing on this minute, but what better time to reflect on how we can be a positive impact on our world’s waterways than through this banjo-driven folk tune? Closing out the album is the elegantly simple “Wishing Well,” whose acoustic guitar and violin bring to mind HBO’s Westworld.
None of us know what will happen tomorrow. Lightning may strike us all, and hopefully, the sunlight will warm us all. Rainy’s soothing vocal tones shower down with the sound of a thunderstorm, hand drums, and guitar to share music’s light with us all. In these uncertain times, let’s find shelter here with Rainy’s Fell For the World. —Lisa Whealy