BANAFSH “Soul Man of the East”

BANAFSH “Soul Man of the East”


Describing their music as “electronic world fusion ambient” Tehran, Iran’s BANAFSH is on a mission to be the world’s musical ambassador of peace. With nine members and a solid start with “Soul Man of the East” stranger things have happened, and they just might be onto something.

“Soul Man of the East” is a track from the band’s upcoming album, A Pledge for Peace. At just over 3:30 minutes, this song has all the flavorings of a delicious Persian-English stew. The recipe for peace, after all, is welcoming all and stretching out one’s hand to help. “Soul Man of the East” has likeable menu and pointedly invites the listener to “come and join us in this feast.”

Besides its welcoming flavor and to-the-point lyrics, “Soul Man of the East” shows some depth in terms of its music bed. The violin – channeling what feels like the Persian sound—plays its part alongside a melodic, electronic guitar. There’s still an acoustic guitar in the mix, but its softness carries little weight against the cascading keys and dependable drums.

I expected more of an instrumental with such richness and stretching landscapes crossing the Iranian and Middle Eastern boundaries. But, in true musical fashion, this song proves music knows no such limits. “Soul Man of the East” can at times feel like the soundtrack to a film, or score to a grandiose saga. What gets in the way is likely its vocals. They aren’t bad, per se. They are a bit jarring only because the male vocalist doesn’t show a wealth of range in his delivery.

I think that’s where the instrumentation comes in and really lifts this song. If not for the guitar and the beautiful violin (as well as the joyous lyrics), this song might be a completely different track. His voice makes it feel darker…or harsh. Obviously it’s not his intention, but if he had a softer voice it might have a different vibe. Perhaps, the harmonizing from the guitar and airy keys makes up for the measured vocals.

Comparable songs that come to mind are Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train,” Matisyahu’s “One Day,” “Give Peace A Chance” from John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bob Marley’s “One Love” and John Mellencamp and India Arie’s “Peaceful World.” Listeners won’t find the actual productions the same, but BANAFSH certainly belongs on this list if you’re making a mix tape or creating a Spotify peace list.

Or, if you love music of any genre and are expanding your own music library to include world music, “Soul Man of the East” is a wonderful start. Overall, it’s a modest song with charming appeal, outstanding musicianship, hopeful lyrics and easy to sing-a-long. It takes a few listens to get it into its groove, but once you’re there, it’s two thumbs up. Get on this peace caravan!

Michael Rand

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