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Chris Pierce (from the album Let All Who Will available on Friends at Work Records) (by Brian Rock)
Soulful Folk powerhouse, Chris Pierce, invites you to explore the distance between grace and grudge on his seventh album, Let All Who Will. The album’s title is a reference to both the traditional church call for anyone to come forward and receive salvation and to the Langston Hughes poem, “Militant”. The former is a call to release all your troubles to God and live in faith. The latter is a call to fight against the cause of your troubles, no matter the odds. Chris Pierce considers both of these seemingly irreconcilable sides by combining the equally seemingly irreconcilable musical styles of Luther Vandross and Bob Dylan. Combining his soothing voice with his sometimes-acerbic lyrics, Pierce urges us to help change society for the better, but only after taking a good, hard look in the mirror and making the tough, personal changes to better ourselves.
“Ain’t No Better Time” sets the tone for the album with a call to act now. Acoustic guitar chords and a sparse bass line play against a steady, Gospel organ chord as Pierce sings, ‘I ain’t a friend of forgiveness. And no, it ain’t such a good friend of mine. I could’ve picked up the phone and admitted I was wrong. But the time kept rolling by’. Reflecting on missed opportunities and lingering regrets, he muses ‘yesterday’s gone and tomorrow’s on its way’. Background singers join him in muted Gospel tones as he sings ‘you can pick yourself up again. Don’t wait till tomorrow. ‘Cause there ain’t no better time than today’. Encouraging us to escape from the mental prison of past experiences, Chris Pierce urges us to acknowledge the past, to learn from it, but most of all, to move on from it. For change, if it is to come at all, must start today.
Realizing that all meaningful change must begin within, Pierce urges us to “Get Yourself Right”. The Gospel-tinged song urges us to pray for help to take that first step. If you’re still having trouble finding yourself, he suggests you return, “Home”. An optimistic blend of Reggae, Rockabilly, and Hand Jive, the song reminds us ‘you can always go home no matter where you’re coming from’. “Magic and Light” is a gentle Folk anthem that reveals the guiding spiritual light that shines within all of us. “Time Bomb” is a mellow, Soulful ballad the revisits the fleeting time themes of the first song. With his smooth, Vance Gilbert-style vocals and his gentle, James Taylor-ish melodies, Pierce’s songs play like musical therapy for the soul. But if your life has been neither smooth nor gentle, he feels you too. “Meet Me at the Bottom” is a Bluesy invitation to join him and begin your personal ascent, no matter how far you have fallen. Offering a partner on your path, Pierce sings ‘we’re born into bad luck, no angels around. But we can build it together; up the hill to higher ground. If a change is really coming, it’s gonna take me and you. You can meet me at the bottom and we’re gonna rise high as the sky’.
After centering himself, reconciling his past, reconnecting with family and faith, and reaching out for like-minded brothers and sisters, Chris Pierce is now ready to take on the world. “Tulsa Town” is a gritty talking-Blues depiction of the 1921 race massacre in that city while “American Silence (Revisited)” is a Bob Dylan-inspired accusation of those who have stood silent in the face of injustice. “Batten Down the Hatches” is a Celtic-tinged Folk anthem that asks, ‘What’s it gonna take on this mountain of mistakes to rise together and break down the mold?’ “Sidney Poitier” is a tender tribute to the civil rights efforts of the late, great actor. Chris Pierce uses funky, 706s Soul rhythms to declare that peace, equality and justice are “Overdue”.
Taking a step back, and waxing poetic, Chris Pierce fuses Piedmont Blues with Paul Simon Graceland-era rhythms on “Mr. McMartin”. Singing about a man who spends ‘forty years of sweeping up and the dust is all the same’, Pierce invokes the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King. Making a metaphor between sweeping up dust and fighting injustice; he leaves the unspoken questions: Why bother sweeping if the dust keeps coming back? Why bother fighting injustice if people still act unjustly? Hinting at an answer, Chris Pierce sings ‘when the Lord calls out ‘Arise my friend, your sweeping days they still won’t end’. Since the beginning of time, humanity has excelled in creating new ways to be cruel to each other. After we leave this planet, there will still be people and groups of people who try to control others. So why bother to fight for what’s right? Because, as Pierce implies, it’s the right thing to do AND because when our life is over, we aren’t judged by what others did, but by what we did. If all this is too much to process or if our struggle becomes too much to bear, Pierce consoles us that, “We Can Always Come Back to This”. A tender ballad that emphasizes the importance of personal relationships. Whatever triumphs or tragedies we experience, it’s who we share them with that matter. It’s the loving that makes the living worthwhile.
After 14 songs of wrestling with weighty issues in muted Folk tones, Pierce feels the need to unleash on the triumphant Jump Blues of “45 Jukebox”. Capturing the funky feel of Jim Croce’s “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” the song is irresistibly cool and catchy. Summarizing his journey, Pierce sings ‘spirit like a 45 jukebox, waiting on the drop of a dime. Records on my road to freedom. I’ve been waiting this whole damn life for my song to arrive’. With uplifting rhythms and a lively tempo, Chris Pierce boldly declares that his wait is over, and his time is now. The quality of each of the fifteen tracks on Let All Who Will proves him right. (by Brian Rock)
Listen and buy the music of Chris Pierce from AMAZON
For more information head over to the Chris Pierce website
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