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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Music Review:
Abide with Me – Sara Groves

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Sara Groves follows her acclaimed 2015 album Floodplain with her thirteenth studio album. She has stated that her previous album found her on the floodplain reflecting on the kind provision that comes when she finds herself in a place where she cannot rescue herself. Abide with Me is a collection of hymns and songs that were with her on the floodplain. The album was recorded in a 105-year old church (the construction of which is shown on the album cover photo), that the Groves purchased in 2011 and converted into Art House North, a creative community for the common good, in the West End of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Groves has stated that it was appropriate that the album was recorded in a space built for congregational singing. The album was recorded with her long-time bandmates, Aaron Fabbrini (bass, pedal steel) and Zach Miller (drums), produced by John Mark Nelson and mixed by Ben Gowell. The album includes songs carefully selected from Groves’ personal list of hymns. Each song has provided a source of healing and comfort to her throughout the years. Groves’ husband first came up with the idea of a hymns album about fifteen years ago and has been compiling possible songs for inclusion since then.

The album is recorded simply and sparsely and may underwhelm on initial listen. However, I encourage you to give these hymns additional listens and the project will grow on you with each listen. I would also recommend you have the lyrics to these hymns in front of you as you listen to this beautiful recording.

Below are a few comments about each of the eleven songs: Continue reading

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MY MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

music-reviews-tape
Floodplain – Sara Groves
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Sara Groves, a former school teacher, is a mom, wife, singer/songwriter and recording artist with a passion for justice and a heart of mercy. She has joined forces with International Justice Mission to advocate for victims of human trafficking for the past 8 years. Her latest album Floodplain, her eighth studio album overall, is another excellent release from her. Her honest, transparent and poetic lyrics (about life – depression, her husband Troy, children Kirby, Toby and Ruby, God, her faith, etc.), are bathed in piano and light percussion, guitars and strings. The focus is clearly on the lyrics and she delivers them well. She is backed by a strong supporting cast that includes Ellie Holcomb, Sarah Masen, Ben Shive, John Catchings and Matt Slocum. Groves produced the album in collaboration with others (Steve Brewster, Matt Pierson, Scott Dente, Daniel Phelps and Brown Bannister).

River is a theme that comes up in five of the thirteen songs. The album was inspired by a run along the Mississippi River in her hometown, and speaks of God’s provision. She talks in the liner notes of the beautiful boat, in the form of friends that came to get her in her season on the floodplain. Groves explains that the title song is first a metaphor for her journey with anxiety and depression and then in sympathy for people caught in cycles of generational poverty and violence (likely inspired by her work with International Justice Mission).

Hope, assurance, faith, family, questioning, doubt and grace are also themes I found in the lyrics of this excellent album. Don’t look for clichés that you might normally find in contemporary Christian music. These are mature lyrics from a mature artist.

This is a recording that you want to spend some time with. Put on the headphones and have the lyric sheet in front of you. She sings about “deliberate and slow” in “Expedition”. That’s how I would recommend you approach this new album, one of my tops of 2015.

Groves recently appeared on the Eric Metaxas Show to talk about Floodplain. You can listen to it here.

music news

  • steve taylorWow to the Deadness. Check out this new music from one of my favorite artists Steve Taylor and his EP Wow to the Deadness under the name of Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil. Watch a short video trailer for the album here. The EP is scheduled to be released February 19. Can’t wait.
  • New U2 Album. U2’s guitarist The Edge states that the band’s recent creative process reminds him of the period that birthed their 1993 album Zooropa, The album, rumored to be called Songs of Experience, may be released by the end of 2016.
  • Worship and Believe“Amen” by Steven Curtis Chapman. Here’s the concert video for Steven Curtis Chapman’s new single “Amen”, which will be on his forthcoming album Worship and Believe, to be released March 4.
  • 12 Pleas for the U2’s Next Album. Interesting article from Zach Schonfeld of Newsweek about the next U2 album.
  • Kennedy Center Honors. Carole King was among those honored on the recent Kennedy Center Honors telecast. James Taylor appears towards the end of the program, during the Carole King segment.
  • unashamed lecraeThe History of Christian Music Quiz. I’ve listened to a lot of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) over the years, but didn’t do too well on this quiz. How did you do?
  • . Lecrae’s first book, Unashamed, will be published May 3. The book’s description states “The rap artist holds nothing back as he divulges the most sensitive details of his life, answers his critics, shares intimate handwritten journal entries, and powerfully models how to be Christian in a secular age. This is the story of one man’s journey to faith and freedom.”

Lecrae Quote

Song of the Week

Floodplain by Sara Groves

 

This week’s song of the week is the title song from Sara Groves’ new album Floodplain. She explains that the song is first a metaphor for her journey with anxiety and depression and then in sympathy for people caught in cycles of generational poverty and violence (likely inspired by her work with International Justice Mission). Listen to the song here.

Some hearts are built on a floodplain
Keeping one eye on the sky for rain
You work for the ground that gets washed away
When you live closer

Closer to the life and the ebb and flow
Closer to the edge of I don’t know
Closer to that’s the way it goes
Some hearts are built on a floodplain

And it’s easy to sigh on a high bluff
Look down and ask when you’ve had enough
Will you have the sense to come on upFloodplains by Sara Groves
Or will you stay closer

Closer to the danger and the rolling deep
Closer to the run and the losing streak
And what brings us to our knees
Some hearts live here

Oh the river it rushes to madness
And the water it spreads like sadness
And there’s no high ground
And there’s no high ground

Closer to the danger and the rolling deep
Closer to the run and the losing streak
And what brings us to our knees

Closer to the life and the ebb and flow
Closer to the edge of I don’t know
Closer to Lord please send a boat
Some hearts are built here