A growing number of songs aimed at reducing gun violence and audacious crimes have puttered along since 1970s “Ohio” from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Madonna released “God Control” in 2019, and its companion video shocked with violent images and horrific blood trails. In 2018 Kesha sang the heartbreaking “Safe”. Georgia recording artist, Darrell Kelley has released “Because of You”. The lyrics, the imagery and gravity of the song is felt from the first note.

URL: https://darrellkelleyofficial.com/

Kelley, who grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, settles into a concentrated sound pretty quickly in “Because of You”. His words like “what are you going to do” and “did you see the children screaming” are directed at the National Rifle Association (NRA). Kelley stated in his press release that his motivation for the song is to end senseless gun violence. He’s not trying to take guns away from responsible gun owners. He even offers that some of the song’s proceeds (from downloads) will be donated towards organization combatting gun violence.

“Because of You” teeters the line between R&B and pop. Kelley’s definitive voice is empathetic. He relies a bit too much on production tools (like auto tune), but overall he gets his emotional message carried to the listener. I felt like I wanted him to be a bit more real, or maybe even showcase a bit more range, but I do understand from a production point -of-view that he had a certain vision. Thinking aloud, this song performed live might be an entirely other-worldly emotional experience. I suppose I was waiting for that sheer anger, or pain to be unleashed. It would take on a whole other level of searing emotional reactions if it were just a bit more organic, and less polished. It’s not that he sounds forced, I was just in the mood for something a bit more reflective of man-made instrumentation, and not tracks. Still, the tracks he chose are interesting!

I-HEART RADIO: https://www.iheart.com/artist/darrell-kelley-30776872/songs/because-of-you-85296462/?autoplay=true

The music bed is heavily electronic keyboards and vibrant beats. It’s a melancholy vibe. The beats compliment Kelley’s vocals in an interesting way. Still, as a listener, I was expecting a bit more dramatic turns and emphasis on the music bed. The pulse of this song is consistently dark, with much more attention being given to Kelley’s vocals repeated “because of you” stance.

Heavy is the burden for Kelley. I don’t think there’s a positive way to spin the subject matter, and he does get through the fray of a crowded music scene. He’s got bits of pop and hints of R&B in the song, but it just didn’t jump out at me as I had hoped. Still, it’s a worthy song and Kelley should be applauded for his artistic expression. Fans of pop music and world-music will find this song to their liking, I think. I think if one is looking for a straight up angry song, this isn’t it. “Because of You” is mildly upsetting in its theme, and Kelley does a great job of arranging his emotions across a stirring music bed.

Nicole Killian

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