If Jars of Clay circa If I Left The Zoo era collaborated with PFR and sprinkled in a touch of twenty one pilots, the result would sound something like what former Flyleaf guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya is creating with his collaborative side project Belle And The Dragon.
Birthrights is the debut from Sameer’s new band, blending easy listening folk rock with a little bit of funk, a touch of jazz, and a pinch of alternative rock. The vibes emanating from each track hold positive energy from the first chord to the last while lyrically capturing what it means to be alive, the birthrights we all possess.
The band lays down toe-tapping grooves on songs like “Trees” and “Hearsay,” while “Blood Money” features Pat Seals dropping a funky bass line to set the beat layered under a hip hop style spoken word verse with a saxophone mixed in for good measure. Lyrical depth is added with each track, progressing from a simple desire to “see the forest through the trees” on the opener to wrestling with the idea of making choices based on human desire on “Blood Money” through bold lyrics like the chorus: “Take the glory / take the money / even if it leaves you bloody.” The track resolves that subject in the end by admitting the need to seek a higher purpose and forgiveness for past choices.
There is a more folk rock and southern feel to introspective “Wicked” as Bhattacharya shows off his abilities on guitar with some nice riffs and a melodic guitar solo to close the tune. Thematically, this tune digs deep as it takes a look at our human nature and how we overcome it by killing the wicked parts with love.
“Wrestle with the Devil” is a gritty alternative rocker with a steady tempo held by drummer Noah Bernardo while it talks about taking on our spiritual and metaphorical devils head on.
“In Glory’s firefight
I saw division, wars, and birthrights
Children grown tall with years keep closed minds
Destroy the world defending old lies.”
“Armageddon” is another alternative rocker with a modern electronic flare, looking to the future. “The End” is a lovely ballad sung from the viewpoint of someone who has reached the end of their life and has gained the “birthright” of wisdom and perspective, understanding the big picture that every puzzle piece of success and failure has built. The song is delivered with passionate vocals and melodic acoustic chords to close out the album.
“Now I am older
a child grown sober
I see the world
for what it is.”
Birthrights is on one hand an album full of incredible creativity and variety musically, easy to listen to and hooky. On another hand, it is thoughtful and deep, beautiful and at times full of grit. Birthrights is a surprisingly unique, refreshing, and perhaps even at times unexpected effort, spearheaded by Sameer Bhattacharya and his bandmates from high-energy rock bands Flyleaf and P.O.D.
Related Artists: twenty one pilots, Jars of Clay