On the eve of another new music release day, I find myself catching up for the last two weeks.
“Music is the mediator between the life of the senses and the life of the spirit.” Beethoven (1770-1827) The search for new music is never-ending because of this connection to the senses, to the spirit, to the soul.
What really caught my ear for 17.4 (Jan 27 releases):
I find no better expression of that this year so far than Ellie Holcomb's "Red Sea Road". Not only is Ellie's voice beautiful, but the vulnerability from which this sophomore release was written finds a place to connect with each of us on this journey of life. Ellie has a great blog with recent posts that explain how her songs came into being. A big influence behind this project was the pain of learning that her father, CCM-famed Brown Bannister, was diagnosed with cancer. Just this week she wrote "the past two years for our community have been heartbreaking. Red Sea Road is one of those songs that I had to write because I needed to sing what was true. I remember sitting down with my dear friends and co-writers, Christa Wells and Nicole Witt. I cried my way through catching them up on the year, and the tears were for the pain and the struggle and the loss we were walking through with several dear friends, but they were also for the way I kept being surprised by God’s faithfulness to draw near to our breaking hearts and make a way for us to carry on, even when the grief and the pain felt unbearable."
This one deserves listening and re-listening. There is beauty in her voice and so much comfort, inspiration and encouragement in the songs and lyrics.
Moving on, you'll recall I was looking forward to the Japandroids release "Near to the Wild Heart of Life". It did catch my ears, but wasn't as much as I was expecting. I'd agree more with the review from Uncut than some of the others I've read. "An expansive record which fizzes with a desire to play around with the possibilities of the studio rather than the stage, shifting the parameters of their music beyond the fast and frantic." The title track may be my favorite as I still love the opening lyrics:
"The future's under fire
The past is gaining ground
A continuous cold war between
My home and my hometown"
Fun release but don't think I'll find myself listening to it as much as some other of this year's releases so far.
What really caught my ear for 17.5 (Feb 3 releases):
This week was all about inspiration and the spiritual connection. Kari Jobe's "The Garden" is bound to be around for years to come with new songs that will touch the soul and spirit and you will probably hear a few of on Sunday mornings. The duets with her husband Cody Carnes are beautiful and no doubt will get Christian radio airplay. CCM's website predicts it will garner some Dove Awards.
Listen to Kari, and then the simple and stirring interpretations that Reba brings to some classic hymns on the 2-disc release ‘Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope’ and you've got a heart-stirring pair.
A reviewer on Sounds of Nashville writes -- "Whether it be the “Faith” or the “Hope” disc, each of these cuts resonate with hope and peace. Life has a way of knocking us down the ladder a few times, and I don’t know whether she could have approached the lyrical content the same way, say twenty years ago. The fact that the legendary songstress has lived through life, and survived some of the hardest knocks one can go through shows the timeless power of these songs."
So pick an inspirational release from the last two weeks - there's several to choose from - and soothe your soul.
In the meantime, any picks for the Grammy's?