Music

Stephen Kalinich and Jon Tiven: Each Soul Has a Voice

Photo: Andreas Werner

Considering the substantial pedigrees of the principals involved, it’s hardly surprising that Each Soul Has a Voice boasts an archival feel, one that sounds so seemingly so retro it often goes askew.


Each Soul Has a Voice

Label: MsMusic
US Release date: 2015-07-03
UK Release Date: N/A

Between the two of them, legendary music veterans Stephen Kalinich and Jon Tiven can boast a list of credits that’s as extensive and impressive as any resume in the biz. The proof lies in the roll call of superstars with whom they worked – a roster that includes the Beach Boys, the late B.B. King, Paul McCartney, Wilson Pickett, Alex Chilton, P.F. Sloan, and others too numerous to mention. Kalinich, for example, is known for having penned the lyrics for some of the most iconic songs in the Beach Boys’ catalogue. Tiven, once a rock journalist (Yes, there’s hope for some of us wannabes!), made an auspicious stage debut at New York’s fabled Max’s Kansas City with the band Big Star, and then went on to work as both a writer and producer with a immense array of iconic artists representing nearly every popular genre imaginable.

That said, when the two joined forces, they were given an opportunity to not only share their skills, but to also reap some recognition that was clearly their due. Not surprisingly then, the pair approached this album with the same earnest intent, enthusiasm and commitment that a novice would be expected to bring to bear on his or her first time out. Indeed, the press release that accompanied Each Soul Has a Voice claimed that the duo wrote some 700 songs for the album, from which they gleaned a scant fourteen. Once in the studio, Tiven multi-tasked as usual, contributing guitars, saxophones, Hammond organ, piano, harmonica, and vocals to the mix, while Kalinich helped chair the proceedings by sharing in the singing. Aside from Tiven’s wife Sally on bass and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars on drums, the album also features a variety of special guests, among them, Queen’s Brian May, Steve Cropper, and additional drummers Steve Ferrone and Anton Fig along with several others.

Considering the substantial pedigrees of the principals involved, it’s hardly surprising that Each Soul Has a Voice boasts an archival feel, one that sounds so seemingly so retro it often goes askew. The ragtag delivery of “Harmony Inner Peace & Tenderness” and the edgy discordant sound of May’s “Rude Awakenings” seem to indicate a desire to eschew polish and pretense in order to let loose through revelry and riposte. Likewise, when the pair harmonize haphazardly, the frayed edges only add to the sense of spontaneity. Oftentimes though, the music’s at odds with the spiritual themes etched in the album overall. Two of the most obvious examples come in the form of the thoughtful “Explosions of Love”, (“If you believe in love and a God who is great / What could he make of these explosions of hate?”) and the rock steady lament “Even the Angels” (“Even the angels cannot take away the pain and bring those soldiers back to life again / What will the future bring to make a million angels sing?”). It’s heady and heavenly, earthy and inspired, all at the same time.

Simply consider it as rock with a heart. Or better yet, passion for a purpose.

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