Have you ever thought about what makes a good album?
Is it fluidity when listening through the entire record? Or, is it because it is recorded well? Are there songs on it that impact you emotionally? And do they run through your head even after the song is over? After listening to Quails' record on the long drive from Ohio to Texas this past Christmas, I've discovered that Before the Bright Lights, touches on all of these.
Based out of the Chattanooga area, Quails blend of Americana coalesces skillful guitar, drumming and violin, and brings a feeling of “old-time” reminiscence with the use of engaging songwriting. Almost like opening up a collection of short stories, each song has its own special way of communicating a tale that could either be fictitious or veritable, but nonetheless honest in its expression. With songs about a millionaire who spent all his money trying to tunnel through a mountain to build a railway line, or the tale of John Harvey Walker, which sets the stage for his revealing of Christ’s great work on the cross, his music allows you to enter into the story. Admittedly, I feel that it takes great imaginative effort to weave your own faith belief and storytelling into your music while remaining impactful. This is where Quails seems to really shine.
Before the Bright Lights opens up with In the Name of the Lord, which discusses what I believe is the first conquest of the Holy Land (Siege of Jerusalem) by the Latin church. This track comes across as an almost dire admonition for all of us to not only refrain from repeating such an atrocity, but solidifying the reality that it was indeed a fallacy. It was an unostentatious way to open up a record, but certainly admirable, because I felt that his album just gets more superlative as it unfolds.
In his song Acres of Faith, which has my favorite guitar solo on the record, it appears that Quails has taken an allegorical approach with songwriting that bears the tale of a community that was in dire straits due to a lack of rain for their crops. Out of great concern, the townspeople show up at the local church to petition God for help.
You gotta have hope for the harvest, acres of faith,
when you go to the father and ask in Jesus’ name.
Expect that he’ll deliver when you bow your head to pray.
He is faithful to answer when you got acres of faith.
In the song, one of the men outlandishly shows up in a rain suit (even though no rain had fallen for some time), demonstrating the importance of having faith for such things. But more than that, Acres of Faith seems to be a call to action, by encouraging us to step out in faith and believe God for our own miracles.
Another one of my favorites on the album is When Love Comes, which also allows me to imaginatively wander and conceive my own idea of what Quails might be saying in his lyrics.
When love comes, love runs
to free the slave that war had almost won.
When love comes, love runs
to rescue the captive one.
Even though this may be a story about an imprisoned refugee, I imagine the people of this world being in that prison cell. But when Jesus comes, He truly frees us. In fact, the book of Isaiah tells us that, Jesus came to set the captives free. This song gives hope that Jesus can truly deliver us, and wants to.
He finishes Before the Bright Lights with the reflective Some Birds. Carrying the same emotional feelingness for me as Karla Adolphe’s Autumn Parade, this song took me into a place of somber contemplation as I deliberated over my own life direction. “Some birds, some birds were never meant to stay. Some birds, some birds were never meant to cage” rang through my mind as I wondered where God wanted me at this point in my life.
Truly, this is a superb album and one that has impacted me in such a way, that I find myself hearing his tales of faith, struggle and hope well after the player has turned off and the cares of the day have extinguished any sound of it. Quails’ music elevates your outlook on life… your perspective… your style; it makes it more artful... more enriching.
Indeed, in the quiet of the day, I can sometimes still hear the sounds of Quails stories going through my mind…
“When love comes, love runs to rescue the captive one.”
I believe Jesus is that love that Quails writes about.
Reviewer: Cory Enderby 2/2017Write comment (0 Comments)
by Katy Collins
Lovelite is a husband-wife band out of Califonia. They lead the crew and have a missional motivation to use their music to reach communities that aren't so familiar with the sounds of worship tunes.
I listened to their song, "Nearness" and cranked it up as loud as my iPad would allow. In "Nearness" I was taken to a familiar place - night driving in California, cruising on the freeway, windows down, music loud, and on my way to a lonely pier on the beach maybe, or a dark but chill coffee shop. The sound in "Nearness" had an airy, mysterious feel to it. It was perfect music for a cloudy day in Seattle when you feel like putting your heart into worship but not in a cheesy, poppy way. The band claims to be like "Death Cab for Cutie" and my gorgeous Washingtonian friend once give me their CD and I did in fact cruise down California freeways at night while blasting its similarly eerie (but without being frightening) melodious tune. I can see the link.
What I like about Lovelite as a band is their desire to pursue the non-churched communities around them and bring them closer to the churchy concept of worshipping Jesus, but in a familiar way. They want to give those non-churched communities music that isn't threatening. Lovelite music can be turned on and enjoyed whether the listener enjoys the God they're praising yet or not.
In their song, "Overcome" they wrote this creatively lovely lyric, "In a desperate place, we have heard You sing, of a surprising love that changes everything." That line is a sweet string of poetic words and presents a great truth about our passionate and powerful Lover who enters into our perpetual desperation. And all of "Nearness" took me there as well- flourishing, thoughtful words. I found myself easily enjoying the songs Jen leads vocally. But because I was ready for that "Death Cab" sound, with my hairy blowing around my face as salty, sea air whipped through my car, I am wanting the unique, airy, mystical sound she offers. Andrew, her husband, certainly provides the calmer more typical sound and together they harmonize tightly.
Being a husband and wife team, has given them years of learning to jive vocally so they can sound unique in their harmonies and seamless too. The more indie and non-normal-Christian they go, the more I like it. When Jen puts harmonies out there that go into the minor notes it gives you that airy mystery that rocks something in your soul and causes you to pause and settle into an other-worldly place of truth and love.
Keep writing, and keep singing guys. Looking forward to hearing even more of your unique songs and sound.
Praying for the communities who hear your stuff- that they'd be similarly drawn to the tones and the sounds you produce and then once drawn in, they'd listen and encounter the glory and beauty of our King.
Duo photo permissbly lifted from the Lovelite Facebook page
Write comment (0 Comments)
by Katy Collins
"We wanted to push boundaries because our God is not safe or small: He has a wild imagination.” (www.rendcollective.com/bio)
by Cory Enderby
Evan Thomas Way, based out of the Portland area, has just released a solo record that I believe is one of the best "complete" albums I have heard in the Christian Folk Americana genre. I had the pleasure of listening to it on my 11 hour drive up to New York. I also downloaded three other albums to break up the presumed monotony. However, we actually found ourselves listening to Evan's complete album several times on the trip. The album itself is overtly "Christian" and the lyrics are really thoughtful and harmoniously put together.
Additionally, you can catch a piece of his heart on his song "Tell it like it is". In the song he is essentially saying that it is ok to wish each other blessing and peace and love, etc..., yet it is also important to tell people what's really going down in the kingdom of God—that that's what true love is.
When listening to this album, it gives off nuances of Tom Petty and The Byrds, which is nice if you can pull that sound off, which he does easily. Overall, I am really blown away by this album. He does such a great job on it. Furthermore, I am doubly blown that I can call him brother. What a cool dude to meet someday in the kingdom of Jesus. Five stars man...
Write comment (1 Comment)
I am really blown away by Four Star Revival's new album Knights Of The Revival. The singer has Layne Staley (Alice In Chains) similarities at times, but also has a real Power Metal aspect to him. The guitar playing is very decent. You have to have good guitar stuff going on in metal. That's just a prerequisite. Drumming and bass are also very, very good. I am impressed that these guys are making this kind of solid Christian music. Their overall sound has Hard Rock and Metal elements to it that definitely remind me of 80's/90's with some Black Sabbath nuances. After a little investigation, I found out that the singer was in a band with former members of metal giant Armored Saint. I think I may have even had something by them on cassette back in the day. Too long ago... Anyway, the guitarist was also in an 80's band called Warminister, which I never heard of, but I checked them out online and they were the real deal. They had the whole 80's getup going in their pictures, and if you had that, you were serious. You can also hear the 80's solo thing in Benny Bodine's (guitarist) playing. He rips through some flying guitar solos on this album. I am still listening to it and processing it, but my favorites so far seem to be Hold On, Red, Somewhere To Run To, Shine and Fade.
Overall, a blown your mind debut album by these guys. Keep em comin'!
Write comment (2 Comments)
Jared Shotwell, the man behind Loud Bird, has just released a new record called Live Quietly. To be honest, I rarely look forward to an artist's new release much more than his material. Why? It's different. It doesn't lend the same predictability that I hear too often lately. This album in particular draws the listener in to a very contemplative state of mind, which is good if you would like to ponder your life or just chill out.
Write comment (0 Comments)