Phil Mitchell Band and their new album “A Better World”

The Phil Mitchell Band opens its album, A Better World, with the optimistic “Brand New Day.” What follows, is a collection of overwhelmingly positive songs. Some of these feature vocalists outside the band, presumably to give the singing more color and variety. It all adds up to a much-needed emotional shot in the arm.

The music on A Better World is best described as mellow pop-rock. While the song “Brand New Day” revs up the rhythm and the volume a bit, most of the album’s songs are on the gentler side. One inclusion, which includes an empathetic fiddle accompaniment, is “Irish Rose.” It is a meditative Celtic song, and not at all anything like your typical Irish drinking song.

This album’s title track is an acoustic tune, mostly featuring acoustic guitar. It includes “searching for a better world for you and I,” in its chorus. Lyrically, this song also addresses the difficulty for musical artists to stay positive. The world throws so many negatives at us, that it’s easy to just fall in and be negative, too. If it’s a struggle for Mitchell, who is so over the top positive, it must then be a struggle for all.

Some of these songs feature spiritual messages. “Glory Train,” which opens with train sound effects, is one that touches upon spiritual vibes. Other ‘spiritually-related’ songs include “God Bless this Child,” “Blessed is the Light” and “Heavenly Waters.” Lyrically, Mitchell doesn’t play the part of the bible thumper. He doesn’t employ his music to pound home a fire and brimstone message. Instead, he clearly believes there is a hopeful side to living by faith. Or at least how it seems, based upon these examples.

“God Bless this Child” is not only spiritually accented, but it’s also sung like a Sunday morning black gospel groove. “Blessed is the Light,” in contrast, is more of an R&B song. Even so, it still retains touches of gospel influences in its overall presentation.

Perhaps this album’s most positive song is one called “The World is a Beautiful Place.” It posits that the world’s a beautiful place “but you don’t see it all the time.” This is because ugliness is just so much bigger, bolder, and louder. We are always confronted by the world’s dark side. Take the news, for example. How many of the nightly news stories are happy and positive? Very few. Bad news just sells better. However, these bad news stories suggest that there are more negative things going on than positive ones. If you turned off the news, and stopped and smelled the roses for instance, you might discover more good attributes about our world than you noticed at first. Sometimes, it’s all about where you put your focus. If you look for darkness, you won’t need to look far to find it. On the other hand, if you put your gaze on light, you’ll discover a lot of that, too. This happy song is sung by a female and rolls to a bit of a tropical groove.

Your world is what you make it, after all. It’s been said that you need to be the change you want to see. A Better World is like the soundtrack to that forward-looking saying.

-Dan MacIntosh