Arthur Alligood’s latest record, I Have Not Seen the Wind, begins and ends with a request.
The first track “Show Some Heart” has Alligood or the character in the song asking someone in his life for a hint of affection, a glimmer of recognition. The final song “Come On Something” yearns for responses from equally important ideas and persons such as breakthroughs, new starts, and Jesus. The rest of the album that is sandwiched in between explores these hopes.
“There are lots songs about the brokenness that occurs in any relationship,” says Alligood, who makes his home in White House, Tennessee. “Some are more narrative based. Others are like conversations.”
“I love the idea of a record, a complete group of songs that tell a story from beginning to end,” he continues. “If each can stand on its own then it seems logical that grouped in the right fashion something even greater can be created.”
I Have Not Seen The Wind marks Alligood’s third full-length release, preceded by 2005’s Formerly, 2006’s Under the Grey, and 2009’s Full Circle EP, the latter of which was offered as a free download on Noisetrade.com
Alligood alternates between his patented folk/Americana and singer/songwriter tunes, equipped solely with his acoustic and the occasional background vocal, as well as pedal steel provided by producer Kenny Hutson (famous for his work with Over the Rhine and Vigilantes of Love) to more driving full-band alternative rock numbers.
He draws the foundation of his sound from a variety of older and modern influences such as songwriters David Bazan, Bill Malonee, Townes Van Zandt, Denison Witmer (to whom he bears a close vocal resemblance), Guy Clark, Lucinda Williams, and Thad Cockrell. He also receives inspiration from authors such as William Gay and Flannery O’Connor.
Hope in the face of doubt, struggle, and resistance is the air this record breathes. Through songs such as lead single “Keep Your Head Up” (Stop your fighting/let me do the fighting…I am, I am/I am much closer than your next breath) to “Turn It Over” with its chorus urging the listener past personal heartache and disappointment (Turn it over/ Find the other side/ And see it through).
“Piece Me Together” yearns for redemption and reconciliation, a chance to stop being alone (Like a lost child I have wandered, but in my heart now I know/I can't make it on my own). This song as well as “Gavel” and the title track reveal the poetic side of Alligood with a strong use of imagery and repetition:
“Can't judge the future by the past
Can't judge a moment by the one before
Can't judge a beggar cause he asks
Or a rich man who won't give to the poor”
“I've seen sunsets over the ocean
I've seen peace stay just out of hand
I've seen hearts wound one another, but I have not seen the wind”
-“I Have Not Seen The Wind”
A more layered and full sound comes to a head on songs such as the electric guitar and organ-soaked sound of “Make Her Smile” (a love song with imagery of journey to land from sea) and “Where The Storm Meets the Sun”, whose first few chords sound subtly like the beginning of REM’s “Losing My Religion” but transforms into a brighter-sounding tune based on “Sally Lloyd-Jones' take on the story of the Great Deluge.
“I wanted to make the greatest record of all time. This is how I have to look at it,” Alligood says. “I don't think I made the greatest record of all time. Instead I may have made a good record or maybe a great one. I'll let others decide. I am very proud of it though. More so than anything I have ever done.”
Despite his personal feelings about the record, Alligood accomplishes his mission of presenting a complete and comprehensive record from beginning to end. Each song holds weight and possesses purpose. Each one stands the test of time…and the wind.
Check out the record at www.arthuralligood.bandcamp.com