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CD REVIEW: The Feelin Band - The Sacred Play of Life
By Chip Withrow - 08/30/2008 - 11:08 AM EDT

Artist: Band: The Feelin Band
Album: The Sacred Play of Life
Genre: Folk/Rock
Sounds Like: Van Morrison, Allman Brothers, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: From Start to Finish, Another Glimpse of Beauty, All That Remains, The World Before Me
CD Review: The Feelin Band band is aptly named – so many of these songs are transcendently soulful and put a happy, bittersweet lump in my throat. The Sacred Play of Life is a bold, eclectic wonder, richer with each listen. In the grand, cinematic tradition of artists from Springsteen to Marah to the Jayhawks, I can vividly picture The Feelin Band stoking a barroom crowd.

“From Start to Finish” features powerful and bluesy singing and playing from vocalist/pianist/songwriter Nicholas Mrozinski, and then is amped up to tent-revival intensity when Sammy Weyandt’s searing guitar. Weyandt’s playing then spirals all over the loping, psychedelic, Allman-esque “Another Glimpse of Beauty.” Later, after much more music, comes another jam-drenched, heady favorite of mine, “All That Remains.”

“You Are That Now” invites a musical comparison to Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” “Now” takes the Dylan template and paints it in rich, gospel strokes, building to a huge anthemic finish.

The band can also veer in a jazz/funk direction. The funky, lyrically wise “Live to Love” is anchored by Jeff Engholm’s heavy bass, and the passionate “I’m Interested” is one of Mrozinski’s best vocal turns. In a cool, odd way the exotic instrumental “The Lovely Lila Downs” reminds me of both the old dance tune “Tighten Up” and the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World.”

Trips into other musical territory include the inspiring, reggae-fied “Live For Today” (bouncy organ and another sweet Mrozinski vocal turn) and the melancholy-yet-fun “Cantina,” into which Engholm’s trombone solo and Weyandt’s flamenco picking fit perfectly. The bright, bluegrassy “Tofte Part 2” is a delighful touch, especially following the elegantly soulful “The World Before Me.”

I have reviewed these guys before – they teamed with Teague Alexy for The New Folklore, one of my favorite albums of the last couple of years. On its own, The Feelin Band leaves me in awe with the gutsy, heartfelt The Sacred Play of Life.

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