Putting to song the hurt and horror that Americans feel with gun violence amongst children is not an easy task. These discussions outside of the news is often left to the artists to give clarity. One such artist taking on that heavy burden is Darrell Kelley. Originally from Boston, Massachusetts and now recording in Atlanta, Georgia, Kelley’s new single, “Because Of You” strings together a unified front.
There’s no escaping the chorus “because of you” in this song. The lyrics are directed to the National Rifle Association (better known as NRA) and Kelley’s song calls out instances where “children screaming” and “children are dying” and asks the NRA, “what are you going to do?” The subtle way Kelley directs the electronic music beds (heavy on the track beats and keyboards) in between the lyrics and his vocals is forever felt. His voice lacks the tenor and sentimentality of a Luther Vandross sound or ethos of Michael Jackson, but Kelley more than makes up for it with his swooping devotion and jazzy-fused vibes.
The movement in the song is stirring and restrained. It’s that focus and drawing attention to the chorus is what makes this song so resonate. Kelley’s words are not unique – he’s singing to his listeners something, according to the press release, that he heard on a news report. What is to be done? He’s taking the conversations being had at dinner tables and on social media platforms and his musical rendition is highly effective. This song seems like a sold build, but after a few listens, the song feels like more of a gut-punch. One wishes songs like these wouldn’t have to be sung, and echoes of John Lennon’s “Imagine” enter the picture, but Kelley’s reality is today’s reality. This song makes you stop and listen. It makes you think. It stirs to the core.
If Kelley’s position is to have listeners react and push for tougher gun laws, “Because Of You” successfully does this. It’s something that goes beyond a social media post, and for that, he should be commended. This song is one man’s perspective and he brings to light a societal problem. We should all be listening. He also noted in his press release that some proceeds of the song’s downloads will be given to organizations aimed at curbing gun violence.
Kelley previously released his debut full-length album, Unity, in early 2019. That same year he released the album Here Ends the Lesson. His work has been noted to cross into both the R&B and gospel genres. Prolific as he has been, it will be interesting to see where this year takes Kelley and if he will once again release two albums. It would also be an interesting site to see, and hear, “Because of You” performed in a live-setting. The takeaway is that Kelley cares about his community, about life. It would be something to experience that passion on a live stage. When he’s not recording or singing, he also owns Soul Delicious restaurants in Miami, Florida, and Morrow, Georgia.
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