Kingsley Flood – Battles [Album Review]

by oz on February 5, 2013


It’s not too early to declare an album as my favorite of the year right? Kingsley Flood is it.

I’ve been on a HearYa hiatus for quite some time now due to the demands of the real world job that’s been keeping me on the road, but Kingsley Flood brought me out of my sabbatical. This album has it all and will hit the sweet spot for anyone that follows this site and shares our same taste in music. Each song is carefully crafted and the album alternates between Americana and brash rock n’ roll with a punk underbelly.

The album opens with a dark acoustic track called “Don’t Change My Mind” where lead singer Naseem Khuri’s vocals sneer over acoustic finger-picking with a screeching electric backdrop and ominous interludes of hard hitting piano notes. What grabbed my attention most was the opening line:

The walls of old Jerusalem, built on blood of kings not men
Timeless, in tact
I been singing to a ceiling fan, I been preaching to a pepsi can
Praying my voice won’t crack

You had me at “pepsi can,” Naseem.

The gloom of the opening is wiped away with “Sun’s Gonna Let Me Shine,” which bounces along like the name implies, pivoting the album into a full on rock show in “Pick Your Battles.” But “Waiting on the River to Rise” moistened me from head to toe. The song is exceptional and will go down as one of my favorites of the year. I’ve listened to it countless times, even excluding the twenty repeats required to transcribe the lyrics below.

The song speaks to me. It opens from the perspective of a man who fell on hard times: “We swam along just fine/ and then she broke her back/ and the bank broke mine.” He’s patient in hopes that things get better as he sings in the chorus: “And I’ll build my boat/ So tall and wide/ But I’m still waiting on the river to rise.” Have you met people like that? Those that sit idly by, relying on blind faith or divine intervention to rescue them? At the midway point in the song, there’s contemplative whistling, marking a turning point. Then horns marking a revelation:

Scratch tickets on my shelf
Stains on my knees
Pennies in my well
I got faith in faith
because the other choice
is no choice at all

Now there’s a man in the sky that I done right by
but he ain’t done right by me
Never had to ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done
But you just wait and see…
I will build my boat so tall and wide
and I won’t be waiting on the river to rise.
No I won’t be waiting on the river to rise.

I may be off on the song meaning, but to me, the character stopped trying to pray or wish his way out of a situation and he stops waiting to get rescued. He moves on and takes control of his life rather than waiting for a miracle. Again, just my interpretation. He also could have offed himself I suppose.

Luckily, I stopped debating myself on the song meaning because “Down” incited a dance party in my house with my four year old, two year old and yours truly. I suddenly felt the irresistible urge to dance the swim. Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

Other songs to call attention to are “Sigh a While,” “The Fire Inside” and “This Will Not Be Easy.” Great album from top to bottom, back to front. Each song plays its part in keeping Battles varied and engaging throughout and the songwriting will captivate you in the quieter moments. Dive into some of the tracks mentioned above below. After you sample, feel free to grab the album in the online retail channels. It was released today.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

kate February 6, 2013 at 8:06 am

“waiting on the river to rise” is my favorite on that album as well. it is well-crafted instrumentally and melodically but beyond that it hits home for so many folks these days. great review!

chris February 7, 2013 at 11:10 am

Are you aware of any plans to release this on vinyl ?

Ari February 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Loving “Waiting on the Rise to Rise”!

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