Force For Good and Jonathan Sprout
2021 / Sprout Recordings
Review by Kathy Parsons
Innocence is the second album from Force For Good, following their 2020 debut, Passions. Force For Good was founded in 2016 by Jonathan Sprout, a multi-award-winning composer and songwriter who has recorded twelve albums, performed more than 6,500 concerts (including 5,500 for children), and taught more than 800 songwriting workshops throughout the United States. His songs have appeared on several internationally-released compilation albums. Inspired by the heroes he has been writing, performing and recording about for more than 20 years, Jonathan founded Force For Good to provide uplifting music and short films "to unify, inspire, and energize people to engage in responsible civic duties."
Other members of Force For Good include Joe Mennonna, an eclectic freelance musician whose work includes liturgical and educational music, as well as studio and live performing; Rodney Whittenberg, an Emmy-winning composer and Emmy-nominated filmmaker whose art is intended to heal, empower and transform; and recording engineer and guitarist Leslie Chew.
In addition to the inspiring music of Passions, Force For Good released a short film each month in 2020, garnering a stunning eighteen international awards. A film will be released every other month in 2021 and 2022 that will feature music from Innocence, beginning with "Homeless" on February 1, 2021. I was able to watch the film and was profoundly moved by its powerful and compassionate message about the state of homelessness in the US. The 10-minute film includes an interview with Elvis Summers, "a living saint who builds tiny homes for the homeless.” (quoting Jonathan Sprout).
Even if the music on Innocence was mediocre (which it most certainly is NOT!), Force For Good is a project well worth checking out and getting involved with. Their music is a classically-influenced new age style that is warm, soothing, and even rousing at times, inspiring hope and optimism that we can be part of the positive change necessary to help heal the world and its many inhabitants. Most of the fourteen tracks include piano and guitar with additional orchestration and some have choral voices. Jonathan Sprout and Joe Mennonna composed all of the music.
Innocence begins with “Natural," a lively and upbeat opener. Piano, guitars and percussion combine in this spirited anthem that's sure to get your toes tapping. "Uplifters" is a stirring song of gratitude to those who strive to make the world a better place. Piano, guitars, gentle orchestration and voices send this beautiful piece heavenward. "Reverence" has a very cinematic style that is orchestrated with piano and choral voices. "Vinyasa" is a Sanskrit word for “connection" and also refers to a form of Yoga. The piece that bears that title begins as an inviting piano solo and evolves into a more orchestrated work that expresses peace and hope. The poignant "Hunger" overflows with empathy and caring. "Plastic" takes on a more dramatic and cautionary tone - I expect that the video for this one will be very powerful. "Oceans" begins as a peaceful piano and guitar duet, but about halfway in, a powerful marching rhythm and flute/pipes emerge to demonstrate the less-placid side of the ocean; the third section returns to the soothing calm of a quiet sea. Love this one!
Force For Good certainly has their work cut out for them, addressing all of these issues (and more), but creating inspiring music and films to share will definitely help to move us toward solutions! Innocence is available from Amazon, Apple Music and many streaming sites including Spotify. Very highly recommended!
February 1, 2021