We Really Do!
:: New Hope - We Really Do! ::
When I first posted this piece this morning, it came only with the concise, contrite message: "I'm sorry." The more I thought about it, that was a little too easy, a little too absurdist, and also I was thinking of Mike and Phil's eyes lighting up at the prospect of having to only type two words and still have it be an article.
Screw that. <-- not an article
Well, it's pretty hard to write about this album. But this a good time to talk about how amusing a lot of religious records are to me. Most music is made because of an artist's need to create, whether they do it all and write it themselves, or their talent is mostly vocal or musical and they perform someone else's songs. They do it because they can't not do it. Or they want to meet chicks. Pretty much the only people who write music to get other people to do something are protest singers, folks who write commercial jingles (and those are going the way of the dodo), and religious artists. Now, the history of religion in music is a long and proud one, and I don't see anything that funny about most gospel music, traditional hymns, old country songs about finding the light, or even pop hits that just happen to be Christian music, but when you obviously set about making music to proselytize, and you try to lay your sales pitch over the template of sexier music like rock and roll, jazz or funk, then we are navigating humorous territory. Especially when the people making the music are hopelessly white bread.
I think a lot of Christian music, and this album certainly falls into this category, plays close cousin to the song poem. Song poems can't help but feel awkward because the person supplying the words either had a specific meter and type of music in mind when they penned them, or no clue about that stuff at all, and the musicians building the song around these words have their own ideas, with the near certainty that the two ideas are nowhere near each other. Sometimes the words don't fit in very well, sometimes the phrases are so ungainly that they end up just being spoken instead of sung, and sometimes it sounds as if the song poem person in charge spitefully sabotaged the song to help make his or her job less tedious. It's a wondrous trainwreck of the worlds of the wanna-be and the never-were's, and even though it's high cheese, it functions as an almost abstract form of art. I think when some Christians who happen to sing and play instruments get together and decide they are going to write songs about Jesus and the Bible, etc., and to try to use modern styles to make it more relatable, it's almost as incongruous a union as the song poem. The sentiment and intent are genuine, but the end result is usually very bad or very funny.
This song here goes from flaccid gospel-tinged 70's horn rock, to tentative jazz, to the inevitable attempt at disco/funk. The disco portion is actually the most interesting because it really sounds like two separate songs played at once -- the theme from S.W.A.T. and bad Manhattan Transfer style a capella work over it. Then it reverts into some Love Boat rock, and totters off into the light with the strains of a Supertrampesque guitar solo. It gets me every time, this stuff.