“Soul Man of the East” is World Music Band, BANAFSH’S Call to the World
Iran’s BANAFSH gives listeners an open invitation to join them hand-in-hand the particularly peaceful “Soul Man of the East.” As Westerners, it’s hard sometimes to gain perspective from musicians from the Middle East, and our own biases might pigeon hole their sound as simply Persian. “Soul Man of the East” is a fantastic tune to help expand one’s mind, and open one’s own soul.
After all, isn’t that what music is all about?
BANAFSH is a nine-piece band comprised of men and women from Tehran. The band notes its early beginnings in 1987, while at University, and early songs featured as film scores and movies. This cool background provides interesting perspective as “Soul Man of the East” is itself a straightforward production. There are no extra bells and whistles and it feels like a song captured on a Friday night amongst friends, wishing and hoping over a warm campfire.
Or, this song channels itself out of a simple conversation from a rural community. That’s the beauty of this tune.
Featuring charismatic violin strings, acoustic guitar, traditional percussion, electric keyboards and electric guitar, the music bed to “Soul Man of the East” is favorable and joyous. It’s toe tapping. You might find yourself humming the vocals throughout the day – even after one listen!
A male voice is the lead singer – his baritone vocals are striking. You won’t forget this throaty delivery and commanding presence. While he doesn’t have the range of more pop artists like Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Harry Belafonte or Wyclef Jean, BANAFSH’s lead vocalist amplifies a sense of pride and devotion to the likes of Bob Marley. What’s sacrificed is harmonies.
That’s where the guitar comes in.
With just 3:34 to the song, the guitar doesn’t monopolize the track, but rather catapults the vocals and surrounding orchestrations. This is surprising as one would anticipate the violin and the electronic keys to make a bigger presence. Again, this might be a Western bias. I can’t stop thinking about the guitar riffs alongside the moving violin strings. It’s spellbinding.
Overall, this track is a great world music song. It will be very interesting to hear how the rest of the songs from A Pledge for Peace turn out, but my instincts tell me that it will follow BANAFSH mission to be musical ambassadors of peace. They certainly walk the walk and talk the talk. Their musicianship is substantially exquisite. Their lyrics might feel too simple to some, but frankly, most great songs are. They don’t over complicate things and this song will stay with you for days. And, if you’re just getting into world music – especially Middle Eastern music – this is a triumphant way to jump into the game. I also think hearing this song live in concert would make a huge difference for listeners. Sometimes listening through a phone or Spotify doesn’t pain the whole picture, and in this case, do the scope of its message justice. I fantasize this song to be a set-ending track or even encore where the audience is arm-and-arm. Just beautiful.