Agony and ecstasy—12 months of turmoil, disaster, death, rescue, victory, and celebration
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Having grown weary of CCM’s more market-driven expectations, this now-erstwhile Sparrow Records’ star has gone Kickstarter-Campaign indie, the better to pursue what she considers her true calling: “to be a musician who writes songs for the Church and for the faithful to use in prayer.” In laymen’s terms, imagine what Sarah McLachlan might sound like were she to try following in John Michael Talbot’s footsteps. In Kierkegaardian terms, imagine purity of heart—resulting from the willing of one thing—given free, worshipfully aesthetic rein.
Life in the Midwater
According to her label’s website, the title of this Austin-based singer-songwriter’s debut album refers to the “heavy realities [that] start to settle in” when “you’re in your mid-20s.” And, truth be told, she too much. (Life does go on.) But something in the way her voice slips from its natural range into falsetto recalls Joni Mitchell in her mid-20s just enough to keep one listening. So does the elasticity of her melodies. And the strings impressionistically applied atop her acoustic guitar don’t hurt.
See You There
The vocals of these revisited greatest hits and misses were recorded during the same 2011 sessions that produced what was supposed to have been Campbell’s farewell, Ghost on the Canvas, with the largely acoustic instrumentation added later. Yet, while nostalgia and Campbell’s Alzheimer’s loom, they don’t loom large. In fact, whereas Ghost on the Canvas tended to sound like a Big Statement, this album sounds relaxed, both versions of “Waiting on the Comin’ of My Lord” included. And, frankly, who wouldn’t prefer to remember Campbell that way?
Listen to Arsenio Orteza discuss what may be Glen Campbell’s final studio album on The World and Everything in It:
Walker of the Snow
“All music is folk music,” said Louis Armstrong. “I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.” And neither, apparently, has the Irish troubadour Seán Tyrrell. Whether he’s placating traditionalists with “She Moves Through the Fair,” “On Top of Old Smoky,” and “The Derry Air” (a.k.a. “Danny Boy”) or welcoming novitiates with John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” and a rearranged “You Are My Sunshine,” his voice (which crosses Richard Thompson and Chris Smither) and guitar and mandocello (which speak volumes) serve an uncommonly bracing and panoramic vision.
There are two explanations for why most of the sower’s seed known as “classic” Contemporary Christian Music hasn’t aged well. One is that it fell on shallow or stony ground. The other is that the seed itself was bad to begin with. Ergo, there are only two explanations for why the classic CCM band Daniel Amos still retains its artistic and prophetic bite. The group’s soil (commercial opportunities) is no deeper or more fertile than before. So the reason must be that Daniel Amos is good.
On Dig Here Said the Angel (Stunt), Terry Taylor’s lyrics and the band’s primary (and secondary) hooks combine to produce a deeply biblical and powerfully moody song suite dedicated to St. John of the Cross. Anyone who has ever looked in the face aging, suffering, and dying will relish the empathy. And anyone who ever will, if he knows what’s good for him, should.