Artistic beauty comes in many forms, but rarely does it feel more authentic than when it originates from deeply held beliefs. A gifted folk musician and dedicated environmentalist, Paul Doffing is a man who uses his craft to put his principles into action. Having already hopped on his bike and taken to the road for a 7,000 mile, 100 show circuit, Doffing is preparing to depart on his next bicycle based tour, appropriately called Freedom from Fuel, which will have him visiting several countries over years rather than months. Doffing kicks off his latest journey with his third studio album in as many years. The upcoming Songs From The (Quaking) Heart successfully blends Doffing’s environmentalism with a musicality that takes the listener on an acoustic journey of seamless storytelling that is not to be missed.
Songs From The (Quaking) Heart is a 12 track release with the first half offering songs that focus on a developing social awareness. Opening track Reason is a slow paced song that begins with acoustic guitar, the hallmark sound of the album. Somewhat basic in its construction yet effective in its messaging, Reason introduces the listener to the artist’s discovery of purpose. The song has a general ethereal feel to it as if the lyrics are coming to the listener from a higher plane of consciousness before bringing it back down with Drifter. A purely instrumental folk piece, this song gives the sense of someone walking aimlessly, looking for something, but unsure of what. Sure Doesn’t Matter Anymore is a deep song defined by one line: “Nothing that we cling to ever sets us free.” The album begins to thematically mature with The Legend of Mick Dodge. With a slightly faster tempo and strong guitar strumming, this track tells the story of a man whose rejection of materialism freed him from modern society. Next up is How Could, a sort of love song defined by a hum inducing repetitive guitar riff before Doffing hits the mid-way point and begins the thematic change with New Day Dawning. Opening with the sounds of nature and some of the best guitar playing on the release, this track is hope-filled and about understanding that even if you lack material possessions, you are rich in the environment that surrounds you. In accepting this, as the lyrics go, “The captive’s been released…” and you are truly free from all that defines modern life.
The second-half of Songs from the (quaking) Heart urges listeners to acknowledge and act. The album’s lead single, Slow I Go encourages people to be mindful of the world around them and to make positive changes, no matter how small. This determination carries through to the second instrumental song entitled Cold Mountain. A nicely played acoustic guitar piece, the music gives the impression of new found purpose before shifting into Bankers $ which looks at a life where one appreciates everything as everyone’s rather than exclusively cherishing things as their own. Doffing begins to wrap up Songs from the (quaking) Heart with a look at how society is destroying its natural resources in Burning Down My Hiding Place before switching to the mid-tempo Today is Mine. A call to action regarding the environment and how today is our time to make a difference for tomorrow, the song flows beautifully into the final song on the album, the uptempo Nuclear Radiation. With lyrics such as “Someday soon, your way of life is gonna catch on up to you…” Doffing appropriately ends his latest project with a a clear warning about receiving back what you put into the planet.
A devoted environmentalist who takes a minimalist approach to life, Paul Doffing has produced an album in Songs from the (quaking) Heart that is both entertaining, as well as thought provoking, without ever being paternalistic. Using primarily an acoustic guitar, Doffing manages to create an air of simplicity against a backdrop of well-written lyrics inspired by the likes of Mahatma Ghandi that is a beautiful addition to the world of music. With the track selection being masterfully placed, each song builds off the previous along this musical journey. Ultimately, Songs from the (quaking) Heart all comes together with a flow as natural and as wide open as the environment Doffing adores.
Songs from the (quaking) Heart is available May 30th.