Arise

Darius Lux

Go Beyond! Records, 2007

http://www.dariuslux.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/07/2007

Of all people, Darius Lux initially reminds me -- at least in the vocals -- of ace folksinger/storyteller David Wilcox. Album opener “The Great Unknown” starts out with Lux’s voice low and crystal clear, enunciating every word with elegant precision.

Arise is no folk album, though. I’d call it inspirational rock’n’soul, if anything: airy, hooky, melodic and ever-so-slightly funky, featuring serious-minded lyrics that are sung with conviction. A cup of Ben Harper, a dollop of Lenny Kravitz and a topped-off pint of Seal and you’ve got the secret sauce for this rich blend. Adding to the impressiveness of this debut is the fact that Lux crafted these ten richly textured tracks almost completely solo, a true multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter-producer.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And indeed, it doesn’t take long for “Unknown” to blossom into an expansive full-band arrangement that lets Lux soar over the top with forceful vocals that slip into falsetto at key moments. “Life Goes On” bring a little funk into the intro before sliding into a gentle acoustic groove that builds to a soaring, affirming chorus. “Hey You!” is another standout track, a rousing call to action with excellent singalong potential.

Lux lists Hendrix and Led Zeppelin among his many musical inspirations, and while I don’t hear it just about anywhere else, the rippling electric guitar solo that lights up the bridge of the otherwise light and acoustic “Natural Beauty” is surely descended from these roots. Meanwhile, “The World Keeps On Turnin’” melds Stevie Wonder idealism with a Seal-ish soulful-pop sheen. Closer “Reach For The Stars” goes for a more urban sound and nails it; this might actually be my favorite track here, with its slinky, Prince-ly guitars and multi-layered vocals creating a potent gospel-funk vibe.

I do have trouble sometimes with the type of hyper-earnest, purpose-minded lyrics Lux employs on most of these songs. The sentiments are undoubtedly sincere and I’m sure some people will find them both resonant and inspirational; I just don’t happen to be one of them. Your mileage may vary.

That personal quibble aside, I can report without reservation that Darius Lux crafts an appealing sound and pours genuine emotion into these tunes. Definitely worth checking out.

Rating: B

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© 2007 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Go Beyond! Records, and is used for informational purposes only.