Tapping the Collective Unconscious

July 8, 2015 |
Carlos Arzate and The Kind Souls © Puspa Lohmeyer Photographer

Carlos Arzate and The Kind Souls
© Puspa Lohmeyer Photographer

“He was laying there (in the hospital) and he told me, ‘All the songs are written, we don’t write the songs. We listen and we communicate the songs,’ which is something I’ve always believed.” Singer/songwriter/guitarist Carlos Arzate is speaking with depth and sincerity while relating a conversation he had with dearly departed Tucson musician Cyril Barrett last year, before cancer whisked Barrett’s life from his body.

“I’ve always believed that the melody that came into me or that I thought I was inspired by was already existing, whether it was decades ago or centuries ago,” Arzate shares. “The voice is the first instrument – some would argue the drum – but I think the voice is the first soul instrument that connects, so I was beside myself when he said that.”

It all makes sense. Listening to Got Me Wrong, the first full-length by Carlos Arzate and The Kind Souls, it feels evident that Arzate is culling from the collective unconscious. While several of his songs are deeply personal, they touch emotions we all experience; these cuts connect us to the frustration, sadness and anger of social injustice, the pain of losing a love one and the resoluteness of changing one’s outlook on life.

The 11 tracks are a powerful convergence of soul, rock, blues and folk, featuring an absolutely stellar line-up of Tucson’s finest musicians. Carlos is measured, but clearly beyond the moon when talking about the talent on this disk. While we listen to the album and discuss the nuances of each piece, he points out who is doing what and where and is touched by the creative efforts of The Kind Souls.

photo: Taylor Noel Photography

photo: Taylor Noel Photography

“What’s been great about this is being able to work with the musicians I’ve wanted to work with in Tucson – I asked them (to collaborate) and they said yes.” It is easy to get behind a project that spears the dominant paradigm, humanizes political footballs and reminds us that we aren’t alone in our struggles.

Carlos’ friend and consistent musical colleague Keli Carpenter contributes her honeyed vox to six of the cuts, Katherine Byrnes sings on three tracks and Crystal Stark vocally joins those two on one tune. The other amazing performers include: Nadim Shehab (drums), Aaron Hultstrand (electric guitar), Collin Shook (piano, organ, vibraphone), Brian Lopez (guitar, vocals), Gabriel Sullivan (guitar, vocals), Salvador Duran (vocals), Efren Cruz Chavez (congas, guiro), Thoger Lund (cello), Ryan Green (acoustic guitar), and Ryan Alfred (bass, synthesizers, guitars, plus production and mixing.)

“Ryan Alfred was instrumental in encouraging the development of my songwriting and growth as a performer,” Arzate elucidates. “His talents and direction are stamped on the record as a performer and a producer. He has a knack of knowing exactly what my song calls for and is all ears when it comes to allowing me to flesh out my ideas against his gifted musical mind. His professionalism and attention to detail is a great counter balance to my raw inspired musical creations.”

There’s something to be said for finessing rough edges. The clean, yet authentic production values lure the listener into these literary sketches. Tales of life and death, the financial meltdown, the migrant trail, loved ones speaking from beyond the grave, lovers leaving us, the evolution of personal narratives, songs of escapism that know the truth but don’t want to deal anymore. Straightforward, deep messages without being heavy handed. Songs that viscerally touch and connect us, heart-wrenching and gut punching at times – but in a good way. Hopefully in a way that will inspire and mobilize social change.

An absolutely gorgeous album well worth adding to one’s collection.

“Got Me Wrong” is set for release on Sept. 1 on iTunes. The band is playing on July 31 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Fall tour dates include: Sept. 3, Hermosillo; Sept. 4, Phoenix; Sept. 5, Bisbee; Sept. 6, Tucson; Sept. 18, Prescott; Sept. 19, Flagstaff; Sept. 20, Tucson. Oct. 17, Flycatcher Tucson, $10. Times, cover charges, locations and more will be available at CarlosArzate.com.