For all of the music that I listen to, I’m really pretty picky. For all of the albums and new artists that I browse, few of them actually end up as part of my regular listening rotation. But the ones that do oftentimes do so quite quickly. It’s almost like listening to music that you already loved, you just didn’t know it yet. I like to think of this as being “comfortable” with certain artists and their sounds. Not in a complacent way but in a way that, connects with certain artists and their music like old friends.
I would describe very little of the music I listen to like this and I would describe even less of the “Christian” music I listen to this way. In fact, for as picky as I am in general with music, I am even moreso when it comes to “Christian” music. So much of what is identified as “Christian” music falls in to one of two primary categories: 1) propaganda or 2) “Praise and Worship.” That is, it is either geared specifically as a “trojan horse” to get a positive message out to the masses or it is specifically designed for corporate singing. Top this off with the fact that I care a lot about God’s truth, so when some music is identified with Christianity, I am going to pour through the lyrics with my Bible in hand. Especially if it’s geared towards the church.
With this being the case, it is rare indeed to find an album that genuinely flows from a heart of faith through honest, original artistic expression. Far too often, it seems, the music simply because the medium for the message; almost as if the music were an afterthought. But we forget that the medium is the message. Once you’ve fallen in love with music, it’s hard to stomach much of what Christians try to pass off. We need more music that’s not only theologically rich but musically moving.
And yet, in recent years, we are seeing a resurgence (initially led by RUF) of music coming from the church for the church that not only focuses on content but music. Artists like Bifrost Arts, Sojourn Music, Opiate Mass and The Welcome Wagon are reshaping music for the church with an emphasis on artistic excellence. In other words, this is music that’s not just about the content but about the music as well. And now, with their album Wounded Healer, The Followers enter in to this exciting mix.
Featuring Josh White of Telecast and Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper and based out of Door of Hope Church in Portland, OR, the band strives to “to create a 70′s infused worship experience” which they call “neo-gospel.” Drawing on a folky, alt. country/blues/soul foundation, the group has created songs that are not only creatively challenging but singable; a balance not easily struck. While there are hints of Telecast and Blitzen Trapper, The Followers have presented an album with a unified, cohesive sound. Being retro without being nostalgic or gimmicky, The Followers intertwined several strands of roots music into something both comfortable and challenging.
There is a theme of experiential relationship with Jesus throughout which is enhanced by the urgency of some of the arrangements. Drawing on the blues and soul traditions, The Followers have created an album in which the music drives home the words. Truth about Jesus isn’t just meant to be understood but experienced. If our music isn’t passionate, why would anyone trust that we really believe the words we sing?
This is an album I’m definitely looking forward to spending more time with.
Preview the album: