In my opinion, anything released by Josh Garrels is necessary listening. His album Love and War and the Sea in Between is a masterpiece, one that it would be hard for the best of artists to follow. But Garrels is up to the task with his latest release, Home. More of a step to the side than an attempt to take a step up from Love and War, Garrels has crafted an album that once again showcases his musical depth and his lyrical mastery.
Musically, this album stays in Garrels's very broad wheelhouse. The album starts with strings that build into acoustics and percussion, followed in the second track by some light electric flair and horns. Then it kicks into a synth that sounds reminiscent of an organ. This has always been one of his fortes, being able to blend together different styles seamlessly. Garrels is a very skilled and smart musician, and it is very easy to enjoy his music as a result. He always approaches a song tastefully to fit the mood of the lyrics. His voice also adds to his unique style; there really isn't anything quite like his voice out there in the music industry right now. He really gets to show off his falsetto in songs like "Colors" and "The Arrow." The quality of his voice and inflections on certain words really grab you and make you pay attention.
But the music is just one part of the equation that makes Josh Garrels's music so remarkable. His ability to craft lines so poetically and with such rich content is rather rare in today's music. He starts in from the first song, "Born Again," where he describes the work of salvation in a person. He describes life in the world of sin: "Had to learn what I need / In the dark, empty / Instincts are guiding me / Like a beast to some blood / And I can't get enough." Then he continues by describing the moment of this person coming to faith: "Stumble out into the light / Raise my fist up to fight / Then I catch Your eye / So full of love / Lord, what have I done? / I cry at Your feet, wounded for me / And all of the monsters and men . But here in Your light / We can begin again."
Garrels is able to expound on a topic even with just one line. I love this short line from the chorus of the song "Colors": "Colors are meant to bring glory to the light." With this line, he describes how colors do not inherent;y gain any sort of glory for themselves, but are only able to be enjoyed because of the light that makes it possible to see them. In the Christian life, we only exist to reflect the glory of God; we do not acquire any for ourselves, because we are not worthy of it. Garrels throws little turns of phrases like this in throughout the album, giving you reason to listen again and contemplate what he sang.
As you can probably guess from the title, this album is really all about homecomings. Some songs focus on family, like the beautiful love song "Heaven's Knife," and some focus more on spiritual homecomings, like "Home At Last" and "At the Table." With these songs Garrels looks at what he calls the "grand homecoming" that will occur for all believers in the end. We are sinful, we haven't lived up to God's perfect standards, but the blood of Christ has washed all of that away.
The real question that comes from this truth is: how will you respond to this work of Christ? Will you repent and submit to God in faith? Garrels poses this question in the song "Leviathan," a small look into the life of Job: "Yahweh gives and takes away / Will you curse or bless the name? / Trials test us like the flame." Even for strong believers, this is something we ought to be reminded of on a regular basis; just look at the life of Job!
Garrels completes this album with "Benediction," a strong summary of all he has addressed up to that point in the album. It's really his way of saying, "May you be blessed with a fulfilled life, a strong family, and a love for the Lord who will bring the good work He began in you to completion." as Garrels puts it himself, "As the days unfold, hold your breath and see / Life is a mystery / And joy, it is severe, when the way is rough and steep / The Lord will make your days complete."
The album is available via Josh's website, iTunes, Noisetrade, and a number of other online formats. I would certainly recommend it to you.
A simple servant of the Master.