the best album of 2011…
josh garrels | love & war & the sea between
what makes josh garrels so amazing, is that i’m really hard pressed to find any artist who sounds remotely like him. there’s elements of matisyahu, bon iver, iron & wine, van morrison, and he brings a unqiue voice to a christan music scene where unique voices are few and far between. i discovered garrels sometime in the last two years and immediately bought up everything i could. his songs are a mix of folk, hip-hop, country, worship, falsetto, guitar (my brain stopped working on that last one). he inhabits a league unto himself in music. his songs are well crafted and bring more meaning to the table than most anyone i’ve heard.
love & war & the sea between is basically a double album that delves deep into issues of faith, the battle of good and evil, God’s ultimate undying love, and how they all fit together. stylistically speaking, the album literally feels like love and war and the space between. there’s simple low-key folk songs that evoke the idea of love songs, and dark driving battle cries that get in you in the mood for some warfare. and while the songs and styles are so disparate, the lyrics are a constant even voice throughout the album.
“tempted and tried, i wondered why the good man died, the bad man thrives, and Jesus cries because he loves ‘em both”
i’m just going to let that speak for itself.
garrels bucks all stereotypes of what a christian artist should look like. he infuses hip-hop, worship, and folk in a truly organic and authentic way. he’s not playing at a guy who wants to rap about Jesus over a banjo, that’s just who he is. he doesn’t conform lyrically to simple reductions of who God is or what his faith means in his life. it’s complex, challenging, and as a result, more rewarding. he also is giving the album away for free. you can buy it online through itunes, but any money that comes in he’s just giving away!
garrels is probably my favorite artist working today. i need music that’s challenging and evolving. i can’t listen to static worship anymore. i want something that bucks stereotypes and plays into where music should be going, not where it has been. garrels provides that. but that’s not his motivation. he just wants to make the music that God’s placed on his heart, and i just want to listen.
“though they may surround us like lions and crush us on all sides, we may fall, but we will rise. not by my might, or my power, or by the strength of swords, only though your love my lord, all we’ve lost, will be, restored.”