Nod Arvefel is back with his fifth full-length album, and he's never sounded better. 4th Man In the Fire contains an assortment of songs (12 to be exact) in an assortment of styles (exact count not available) that are sure to please even the most discerning listener.
Arvefel relies on his tried and true formula of composing and arranging his music on synthesizer with vocals and final production at Monastic Chambers. The sounds on this album seem slightly more authentic, whether it's through an increase in knob tweaking on his synth, an upgrade or the fact that this time out he accents many of his songs with live musicians. The most dramatic departure is Draw Them, Lord, where Arvefel is flanked by some of the area's best session musicians on drums, bass and lead guitar. This slow an mysteriously introspective song comes together as a nice power ballad with gentle vocal harmonies backing Arvefel's clear, expressive voice and 80's metal guitar lead lines that evoke memories of The Scorpions.
But for the most part it's just a man and his synthesizer. And it works. When Jesus Comes Again is full of revival organs and honky-tonk piano before becoming a joyous jazzy show tune of pure gospel lyrics. Just A Stone's Throw Away gets funky with R&B guitars, punchy horns and loads of slap synth bass all set to an energetic beat. In March Around the City Nod brings on a reggae rhythm to accompany the encouraging lyrics which are accented, appropriately, by loads of synth trumpets that unfortunately don't sound very convincing. However, strong songs like Lord, Plant Your Seed more than makeup for any sonic grievances. In Seed a dark tapestry painted with a great jazz organ piano sound played by Eric Clancy perfectly complements Arvefel's call for spiritual rejuvenation. Another outstanding song is The Letter, which tells the heartbreaking story of a boy who's family stopped going to church and started falling apart.
For inspiration of what one man can do with a synthesizer and the will to serve his Lord, you need look no further than the music of Nod Arvefel. Each album tops the last in terms of the maturity of the compositions, sound quality and Arvefel's crystal clear vocals. Song samples of 4th Man In the Fire are available at www.nodarvefel.org, but you've been warned: one listen and you may end up reaching for your credit card.
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