Don Felder, ‘Wash Away’ (Feat. Tommy Shaw of Styx) – Song Review
Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder recently released a solo album titled ‘Road to Forever,’ and on Monday (March 18) he released the second single from the project, a mid-tempo electric-acoustic hybrid titled ‘Wash Away.’ And while it might not be the second coming of ‘Hotel California,’ the track is a deserving effort with many strong elements, and more than worthy of a listen for any fan of his prior work.
Felder was the instrumental architect of a lot of the Eagles’ best work, both as a writer and especially as a lead guitarist. That’s certainly in evidence here, as he builds the track with his signature blend of electric riffing and ringing acoustic chords. That bed provides an ideal setting for Felder’s vocal performance, which is stronger than many fans might have expected; though Felder’s is arguably the least recognizable voice from the Eagles, he’s a strong singer, with a voice that’s actually vaguely reminiscent of that other Don — Henley — in his lower range.
The choruses get some help from Styx front man Tommy Shaw, who also co-wrote the song. Shaw (obviously) knows his way around a harmony part, and he’s at home in this kind of music — in fact, it’s probably his strong suit, as anyone who’s heard his work with Jack Blades can attest. His high voice blends with Felder’s mid-range for a nice lift, and a wash of vocal effects also helps distinguish the chorus from the verse and gives the track a modern feel.
Felder’s guitar solo displays his trademark deft touch with lyrically melodic playing, with a tinge of chorus that also adds to the overall contemporary feel. The instrumentation, vocals and production are the strengths of the track.
It’s a bit weaker lyrically, which isn’t to say that it’s a poorly-written lyric. It’s heartfelt, and certainly in keeping with the theme of the album, which Felder wrote after losing both his band and his long marriage. The lyric reaches for a universal theme of redemption — but there’s a fine line between universal and generic, and this lyric treads that line a little too closely with its payoff, “We go down to the river to wash away the pain.”
That said, there’s still far more to like than not about ‘Wash Away.’ For longtime fans of Felder, it’s a piece of work that’s in keeping with what you’d expect, but with just enough of a new slant to make it interesting. And for Eagles fans who might not be familiar with Felder as a solo artist, it’s proof positive that he’s a lot more than just the guy who used to play guitar on Don Henley and Glenn Frey‘s songs.
Hear ‘Wash Away’ by Don Felder
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