As a general rule, after a successful, well received album, music artists tend to try and up their game with a just as good, if not better follow up. This usually translates into "go big or go home" endeavor. Josh Garrels, judging by his scaled back follow-up to successful Love & War & The Sea In Between, disregards this rule entirely. Home is a quieter, simpler, and less lyrically dense successor, and gloriously so.
Given that Love & War essentially put Garrels on the map, scaling back on Home is perhaps riskier than attempting to out do his best work. It's a risk that pays off, as Garrels is the type of artist who tends to thrive in the quiet and intimate.
Home begins with the slow, waltzing rhythm of Born Again, establishing itself as the most explicitly faith-themed of Garrels releases. As usual, Garrels makes full use of wind and strings in this track and throughout. Born Again is followed by Colours, a contemplative, morning praise song, reminiscent of 70s soul. Garrels sounds more like the same artist behind Love & War in third track A Long Way, which incorporates brooding synth, with beautifully dense lyrics:
Father's hands work the ground
Turns the soil, lays it down
Everything done and said
Lives beyond the quick and the dead
Heritage passed along
To the sons like a blessed song
This is followed by Leviathan, a hypnotic interpretation of the book of Job: "Yahweh gives and takes away, will you curse or bless the name, trial tests us like the flame." Garrels falsetto voice howls with intensity in the blues rock track The Arrow, demonstrating his versatility in passing through musical genres with ease. This is followed by the gentle romance of Heaven's Knife, in which Garrels croons an intimate serenade to his wife "my heart, my home." In this track Garrels echoes the world first marriage:
"Like the first man,
I was cut so deep by heaven's knife
When I awoke from my sleep
Oh My Lord, she's beautiful..."
Morning Light joyfully looks forward to the believer's future, while Always Be is a commitment of praise. Home At Last and At the Table continue with the theme of home, as Garrels revels in the joys of fellowship in the Body of Christ. Home ends with the quiet whisperings of Benediction, a beautiful lullaby from a father to his children.
Home is a beautiful album that in all it's simplicity, demonstrates Garrels mastery as a musician and lyricist. It's a subtle and refreshing answer to the usual trappings of mainstream Christian music.
PS: You might still be able to get this album for free on Noisetrade.
PPS: For those of you who follow me on 20 Something Bloggers, I've changed by account. You can access my new account on the link at the bottom of my blog page.
Happy Monday my peeps!