It isn’t quite as grand as the first movement, but I trust you’ll find it no less interesting. Below are two talented artists I’ve been appreciating lately; I think you will appreciate them, too. So have a seat and let’s begin.
Enter Caleb Hayashida. I like this guy. He’s got promise. And while his first release (Somewhere Along the Way) isn’t perfect, it does exhibit some fantastic music and solid song-writing. Worthy of special mention is “Starhymn”, a simple yet glorious ballad of praise, pulsating with genuine wonder. I like the rest of the album well enough, but I really, really love this song.
Caleb’s music is refreshingly different in at least two ways. First, the lyrics are generally more robust – theologically and poetically – than what you will find in the majority of Christian music these days. Second, the music itself is actually worth listening to. It doesn’t sound like processed cheese, nor is it obnoxiously overproduced.
The one thing that gave me pause was a line in “Rain’s ‘a Falling”, which has the singer beseeching Mary to pray for his soul. Um, no thanks. I have a sizable theological bone to pick with that kind of nonsense, and anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time will know exactly why.
Having given this caveat, I do recommend the album overall, and look forward to hearing what Caleb does next. You can purchase Somewhere Along the Way on iTunes here.
Then there’s Radical Face (aka Ben Carson). His 2011 release The Family Tree: The Roots is the first in a conceptual trilogy of albums about a fictional 19th century family, the Northcotes. Carson’s poetry is sublime, his storytelling even more so; there’s greater depth, greater character development in these three and four and five minute stories than in some novels I have read. Just try “Always Gold” if you’re a Doubting Thomas.
Carson limits himself to instruments that would have been available to the Northcotes in the 1800s. Mainly, it’s just his voice, the acoustic guitar, the piano, and a floor tom, but some songs also feature the banjo, strings, and hand-claps (the guy uses hand-claps like no other musician I’ve heard). As one excellent review describes it, the album is “stripped without being thinned”:
The music is visually evocative. Following this, he begins his unique style of layering, enfolding simplistic rhythms and riffs to create music that’s sonorous and thick without being muddied, with bursts of Ghost-esque clap-percussion sections that drive the songs. The Roots is full of those “lines” and “moments” that clamp around your head and then linger. There’s a comfortable balance of stripped Ben-plus-guitar acts with the brimming, full-eared climaxes. The voice becomes an instrument, not just a passage for the story words. He overlays singing to feel almost hymn-like.
Oh, and the whole thing was recorded in a toolshed. No, seriously. A toolshed.
You can get The Roots via iTunes or Amazon, but here’s the really sweet part: for a limited time, the entire album is available for free on Noisetrade. Beat that.