LOVE WAS HERE FIRST by Carolyn Arends. Fresh, jive, and colorful are some of the words to describe the musical feast of this new creation which includes mandolin, violin, trumpet, saxophone, trombone, and upright bass. Nothing about this album is dull, or typical. The incredible thing about the songwriting of this album is the amount of truth that is communicated refreshingly without using the usual Christian cliche’s or Christianese, of which I use my fair share of. (Sorry, I’m working on it :)
I have enjoyed this album very much and have decided that I am going to walk you through some of the songs to hopefully give you a sample taste like those little spoons you get when sampling flavors of ice cream or gelato.
1. Be Still - There are several other songs I could name with this same idea that tend to be very legato, smooth and quiet, tender, hushed and quiet. I like those songs. But I also like this song, with a refreshing take on a familiar, yet difficult to apply concept. It’s almost as if the music is a tad rebellious to the idea of being still, but this toe-tappin’ tune is convincing. It lures you in, and catches you, holding you in long enough to be still, even if just for a moment while your toes are dancing. Features Trumpet, Tenor Saxophone and Trombone, which combine to make a really fun song.
My favorite part:
Oh how I need a vacation,
‘Cause it’s so exhausting pretending
There would be much less frustration
If I would let you do your job
2. Standing in the Need of Prayer – I love this arrangement of Standing in the Need of Prayer with the mandolin and violin, the moving melody, her soft, tender vocals, and the harmonies, which are joined by the Sojourners. The instruments, melody, and lyrics work together with sincerity, a song of humility, acknowledging our need for prayer, for God to intervene.
3. My Favourite Lie – This is one of those songs that strikes a chord, the lie that we’d rather not have to die but we’d like the resurrection, without the dying. We’re afraid of dying. We wish we can just skip that part. But we know that we’re asked to sacrifice like Abraham, surrender our very life, take up our cross, and follow Christ. I love the piano intro, which is followed with guitar to get things going. (lyrics for this song can be found here) I can relate to this part much more than I wish I did:
I am a girl who is sore afraid
That the life I’ve made’s no life at all
Can you find a pulse
In this concrete heart
Could the end be a start after all
I LOVE the Violin on this piece towards the end and then repeats as the outro, actually it could be a combination of electric guitars and violin, it just sounds really wonderful to my ears.
4. Something Out of Us
Upright Bass, Bouzouki, mandolin, fiddle, trumpet, tenor & baritone saxophone, trombone and the Sojourners are featured in this song. I have no idea what a bouzouki is…(apparently it’s a stringed instrument, according to wikipedia…) but it is a fun assortment of instruments and with a fun swinging beat, sounds like quite a party!
Here’s my favorite line:
But you’ve always made disciples
Out of prodigals and worse
Just by giving us your Spirit
You make us into your church.
5. I am a Soul – (Free Song Download…see bottom of blog post)
I so appreciate the honesty and sincerity in Carolyn’s writing, admitting to have questions, as seen in this song.
lyrics can be found here – I love this:
I have a body, but I am a soul
I see a fraction, it’s not the whole
I cannot prove it, but still I know
I have a body… I am a soul.
The verses are incredibly woven together:
A sculpture or a canvas can speak a private language telling secrets hidden in the heart.
Such poetic beauty, and incredibly crafted lyrics.
6. Willing - About halfway through an album is when I stop listening and thinking and it just becomes background music, that is until I pulled out the lyrics and really listened and I realized just how worshipful this song is. It really sounds like a song of surrender, a prayer. Beautiful. I just adore the tender, delicate sounds of the mandolin and the guitar strumming and dancing together in the background. (I posted the lyrics here, on Monday night)
I think I’m running out of spoons…here’s a little whiff of the last few songs:
7. Roll It - The piano is featured in this piece along with the acoustic guitar, mandolin, violin, upright bass and the Sojourners singing. It’s an upbeat tune with a strong jazzy feel.
8. The Last Word (Love Was Here First) - The album title is taken from this song. It’s a great story-telling of the gospel.
9. According to Plan - this song and it’s lyrics can be found here:
10. Nothing Can Separate - I love this song. The chorus is taken from such a great passage in scripture and she has put a refreshing spin on it. I like the way she pronounces Separate…:] instruments: Upright Bass, bouzouki, mandolin, fiddle, and guitar.
11. Never say goodbye -I like the the tinny music box-like sounds of the toy piano and the hopefulness, the heavenward melody that carries it, and a beautiful harmony featuring Steve Bell. It’s fast becoming my number one favorite.
I must confess one small problem…I can’t pick favorites, I like so many of the songs, each one for different reasons…Never Say Goodbye, Nothing Can Separate, Be Still, Standing in the Need of Prayer, Willing, and I am a Soul being the ones that stand out to me the most. (Seee?? I can’t pick!)
She is able to cleverly weave several different musical textures together folk, rock, jazz, and blues in this colorful new album. I like the way she has a beginning, middle, and end to her thoughts, lines and phrases – a master story teller thru song. She takes a metaphor and plays with it more than once. In Be Still I noticed this when she sings ‘Oh how I need a vacation….and concludes the thought with…if I would just let you do your job’. I like that :]