I never imagined I’d find a theme song fit for sautéing summer greens.  Yet I dance and harmonize to local songsmith, organic farmer and bearded free bird Chris Good’s “Song for the Veggies.”  “Maybe we like spinach, maybe arugula, so many greens to love!”  I am all smiles, sun licking the windowpanes.  This is some positive, albeit mundane, music for appreciating life and seeing the light.

But Chris Good offers more than hearty breakfast-prep background music on his debut disc.  A self-proclaimed “labor of love,” “Beautiful” is a collection of pure, honest tunes that burst with life and occasional instrumental color.  Known around town and on his weblog as the “Funkyfarmer,” Chris has a raw voice, freckled with grit and soil.  He reaches at truth and vaguely channels Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips or an Earthbound Neil Young. Though without strain and innovation, this reach is just a jubilant morning wake-up stretch.  Yes, the sun shines and life as grand, but where’s the pure soul, the unique sunspots? Chris decorates with textured African percussion and writes a familiar soul/pop musical narrative found in solid projects from the Ann Arbor area – think My Dear Disco, The Macpodz and friends.

Local music fans will appreciate a healthy bushel of collaborative tracks, most memorably Theo Katzman’s feature.   His smooth croon on “Love Is” adds some unique flavor to a common soul jam.   Chris adds some paprika to the mix and keeps ears perked, with a nice collection of keys – Wurlitzer, Hammond, Farfesa and a few other retro sounds.  They’re a sweet slice into the rhythmic pop pulse and add some unexpected Aretha flavor.  “Humble Down” keeps on rollin’ with similar heavy keys, solid horns and a sweet minor chorus.

While Mr. Good’s lyrics often bleed social concerns (if you think it’s prominent here, listen to his first group, Mutual Kumquat) his earnest voice and aqueous blue eyes couldn’t be overbearing or preachy.  His aim seems pure and universal – for all to realize how beautiful it is to live and grow.  When tomatoes ripen, wheat sprouts and seeds germinate, Chris sees beauty.  The wonder in existence is more easily explicable through nature’s bounty than song. It is a hard task to translate this light to musical language – no matter the musicianship, spectral horn parts, unique African percussive riffs or driving pulse.  So it, instead, molds into music that is too saturated with blatant message.

“Beautiful” is an honest crop of tunes fit for kitchen jigs, summer patios or to play at liberal events – I just fear that it may not yield a large harvest.

Catch Chris Good live on the airwaves on November 4 with Matthew Altruda on Ann Arbor’s 107.1.

About the Author

Amelia Franceschi