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Island Mele: Love’s ‘Change’ is impressive
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
It would be understandable if some readers see the name Mike Love and assume this is a locally recorded solo project by the lead singer of the Beach Boys. After all, Mike Love of the Beach Boys has been a major figure in American music for more than a half-century.
No, this Mike Love is a Hawaii resident singer-songwriter whose debut album blends Jamaican rhythms and Rastafari religious perspectives with elements of acoustic pop music in imaginative ways. Love’s music and arrangements, and the production values that Love and his co-producer, Shawn Livingston Mosley, maintain throughout the project, make it a very memorable calling card.
‘The Change I’m Seeking’
Mike Love (Lovenotwar)
For instance, where some local producers would use computer tracks to simulate backing musicians, Love and Mosley employed a string quartet and several horn players. The additional backing musicians —DeShannon Higa and Duane Padilla, to name two — give the arrangements organic warmth and lushness.
The “change” Love mentions in the title is political and social. The interior album art shows a large building being consumed by a banyan tree. Graffiti on the side of the building reads “Take back the knowledge” and “Take back the power.” Several songs deliver Love’s thoughts on those themes.
“No More War” is one of the most prominent. Love mourns the social processes that set children on track to grow up, volunteer for military service and go kill “enemies for democracy in a foreign land.” Love cautions would-be soldiers that while military personnel are dying for American foreign policy commitments in distant lands other people here in the United States “sit in their mansion reaping all the benefits.”
Love shares an element of basic Rastafari doctrine with a song that has the ironic title of “Barbershop.” Serious Rastafari do not cut their hair, they let their “roots” grow, as Love sings, “until they reach the ground as a symbol of the Love for Jah that I ‘n I have found.” (A photo shows Love’s “roots” reaching past his waist). Rastafari perspectives also percolate through “Movin’ On” and “Jahwakening” as Love recommends dropping out of the Babylon rat race and living in Jah Love.
Other songs address people who fall short of Jah Love and choose instead to live selfishly and exploit others.
Love neatly steps from reggae to classic R&B with an improbably titled love song, “Butterflies and Beefstew.” The lyrics show his romantic side; the arrangement shows off his vocal range.
A second love song, “Distant Travelers,” also takes the listener outside the dominant reggae format.
“The Change I’m Seeking” is available at www.mikelovemusic.com.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.