Here’s a new series that I am kicking off: a weekly playlist. I LOVE music, and enjoy a wide array of styles, sounds, genres. So, I intend to make a weekly playlist that spans eras, styles, and sounds. I am trying to break away from the constant need to read, study, and exhaust my brain (and avoid burning out). So instead of a weekly list of articles I read (which has dramatically cut down anyways), I am sharing a list of compelling songs. Enjoy this week’s wild and diverse list:
1. “Spirit Speaks” by All Sons and Daughters
All Sons and Daughters are not the typical worship duo. They aren’t afraid to experiment. Their work can take you in unexpected directions, offer up rich tones, and nuances of sound. Leslie Jordan and David Leonard blend their voices seamlessly to make hauntingly beautiful vocals that invite reflection, passion, or somber awe depending on the track and intent. “Spirit Speaks” is a track off of their first studio release, Season One (2012). The song exalts in the glory and beauty of the Spirit’s work in us. Jordan and Leonard point to His moving in them, giving breath, giving song, drawing them into the love of God. They respond, then, with a passionate desire to go wherever the Spirit leads, to “love the least of these,” to give their “greatest offering,” because He is worthy of it. It’s a beautiful, powerful, and inviting song to sin and meditate on.
2. “Love Train” by The O’Jays
The kids were watching some movie and this song came on in the soundtrack. So, I decided to share with them the original 1972 hit single. The song calls for unity and world peace, mentioning specific places around the world that were, at that time, having human rights issues: England, Russia, China, Egypt, Israel, and Africa. While the song addresses social issues, it does so through positivity and somewhat indirectly. Still a relevant song, and it still has a great sound that makes it lots of fun.
3. “Familiar Landscapes” by New Found Glory
I’ve been reliving this 2006, concept album from pop punk band New Found Glory. The whole album centers around the lyrical theme of being far from home and missing family and friends. While it maintains a pretty typical peppy pop punk sound, the lyrics have an interesting ambiguity to them. The author is singing of a complex relationship, using the metaphor of moving away from home as the lens through which to explore that complexity. The chorus asks “What do you want from me, what do you want from my life.” It’s a hard and heart-breaking question. The uncertainty, the discontentment of the other person ways and wears on the singer – to the point that his “heart just can’t take it any more.” It’s a great song, maybe the best one off of this genre bridging album. Coming Home was layered album with more “mid tempo” sound. It shifted away from the strict pop-punk style of their earlier work and demonstrated some maturity both in the band members, and in their musicianship. It was great to relive this whole album, but I have particularly enjoyed this song.
4. “Songs Sound Much Sadder” by Norma Jean
Norma Jean might be one of the most crazy, diverse, and unique bands I ever listened to. When I was in high school and early college I loved them. Of their seven studio albums, no two are alike. Redeemer (2006), their third album, is a progression from the more strict hardcore that the band was known for in their previous two albums. Here they are still metalcore, but they add some melodic harmonies and more screaming than growling. It added a nuanced sound to their repertoire and became a much loved album. The song itself focuses on the failure and emptiness of living according to the world systems. It is riddled with disappointment, starting out with the claim “we will be legend,” but ending with the realization that “while we thought that we were learning how to live, we have been learning how to die.” With epic breakdowns, and a more prog metal feel, this song stands out. Another old song that I’ve been reliving lately.
5. “King of Love” by I am They
Who doesn’t a love a little folk in their worship music?! This is such a great take on a mid 1800s hymn. I am They add a beautiful and victorious chorus to invite our joy and champion the truths of God’s never failing love. A great way to breath a little fresh life into a relatively forgotten hymn.