Sunday, November 15, 2020

Etzioni’s Exceptional “What’s The Mood”

Rock and roll music can accomplish many things. At its best, it can thrill us, move us, teach us, uplift us, and allow us to be carried away by its rhythms. When an artist can accomplish all of those things on one record, it's a very special occurrence. Marvin Etzioni, a founding member of Lone Justice, does just that on his latest solo release, What's The Mood Of The Country Now?, an exceptional record that defies categorization. The album is a masterful musical melting pot of rock, soul, folk, poetry and roots music, which shines a light on important social issues, and manages to both entertain and inspire us as listeners.

The album opens with Etzioni chanting the words "Every breathing soul needs to live in peace" which sets the tone for a terrific collection of songs that include the one-two punch of "God Bless The Homeless" and the stark title track. On the folk-tinged "Here Comes America" Etzioni and singer-songwriter Sy Smith sing that the "future of freedom is in your hands." These powerful songs examine and illuminate the state of the world we live in right now. Throughout this remarkable record, Etzioni provides us with a musical call to action, asking us to be more empathetic to the problems of our fellow human beings, and take a closer look at ourselves. There's never been a better time for self examination than right now, in these insane and unprecedented times.

One of the highlights of the album is the innovative "Abide In My Love" which features an innovative spoken word duet between Etzioni and the recorded voice of Anais Nin, effectively combining the innate talents of both artists. "Cover Your Bamboo" and "The Last Weapon Left Is The Heart" are offbeat (and lyrically unique) love songs which also feature vocals by Sy Smith, whose extraordinary work complements Etzioni’s throughout the record. There are also top notch contributions from Etzioni on guitar and mandolin, David Leach on percussion, Zach Baird on Moog bass and synthesizer and Gustavo Santaolalla, who provides marvelous backing on the ronroco (a 10-stringed mandolin) for the stirring and powerful "We Belong In America."

While some of the songs on the album focus on the darker side of the world as we know it, the record also manages to strike a hopeful note, and point us in a more positive direction with the hard-driving, soulful "Wheels of Freedom" and the joyous, celebratory "(There's Gonna Be A) Jubilation." Marvin Etzioni, who also produced the album and wrote or co-wrote most of the songs, has worked with artists like Peter Case, Toad The Wet Sprocket and Counting Crows. With What's The Mood Of The Country Now? he provides us with some of his finest work to date. This superb album is just the kind of music you need to be listening to right now. It's one of the best records of the past year. You can get more information on the album, and some other recent releases, at Marvin's label, Regional Records, at

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