An honest work of art that deserves a wide audience
Love Lines the Last Horizon
Artist: Tanya Godsey (www.tanyagodsey.com)
Length: 11 tracks/45 minutes
We are often oblivious to our true state. We may be bound in ways that we don’t realize. As described in one of the songs on Love Lines the Last Horizon, we might be only glimpsing freedom like seeing beauty through a window. From a supposed secure place, we might long for love but fall short of it.
Imagine the grace of God as something timeless, constant, wild and free. It’s powerful enough to save the weak and vulnerable.
The opening, “Wild Love,” is like a prelude setting the stage for how strength and vulnerability manifest themselves in a set of songs that speak of liberation into a more authentic existence. This is where dreams point, and it’s not beyond reach. The majestic and gorgeous sounds befit the beautiful journey that awaits listeners, one of challenge but also of extravagance.
This is the first full-length follow-up to Telling Time (2011) and Godsey’s third long play. A difference in sound is immediately apparent, which comes in part from producer/collaborator Ben Shive. I’ve come to realize that any recording involving Shive is worth checking-out.
What surprised me is the degree of programming. I think of Telling Time as being more acoustic. So if you are not used to synthesized sounds, give yourself time to like this. My fondness for it grew with each listen.
This is nothing short of a masterful blend of organic and manufactured sounds. As much as I like Telling Time, which I thought was one of the best releases of 2011, this surpasses it. The poetic and truth-filled lyrics, and the modern sophisticated sounds show a greater maturity.
After visiting her website, and reading a poignant blog entry about her husband’s sudden, inexplicable depression and anxiety, I understood the background for the fragile and powerful words expressed in these songs. It’s worth reading.
One of the themes that emerges is forsaking comfort and safety, which in reality can be like a house on fire, for a freedom that we can’t begin to imagine, but comes in part through trusting God and venturing forth.
“Quiet Street” amazes and challenges along these lines. It starts quietly, rehearsing the American dream of “white picket fences and a backyard oasis.” Has something been forgotten? “I’m running back to that place to remember who, who I am, and what I lost of me, living on a quiet street,” sings Godsey. She goes on to elaborate, “Love was a distant noise, now I hear a holy voice.” Complacency is exchanged for a vibrant relationship.
She sings with the conviction of one whose house has been stripped to the foundation but is being rebuilt by God. The alternating of haunting, echoing sounds with the more forceful emphasizes it.
“Worth the War” is my favorite. The repeated keyboard driven hook generates a rhythm that feels like freedom personified. It includes what sounds like a talk-box that is subtlety employed for added texture.
This is a battle for deeper relationship. Godsey sings the chorus with grit and passion, “Let’s stand and fight …” The vocal inflection and music put the emphasis on “fight.” It’s moving when you consider this as a response to her husband’s suffering, “I’ve got your back/so take my hand/take the sword/love is worth the war.”
Since I didn’t have the advantage of liner notes; this review copy was a download, “take the sword” may be something else, but that is how it sounded and fits the context. This doesn’t mean that one should strap-on a weapon if your love-life is in peril. It’s about caring enough to take the initiative and being committed.
Recently, Andrew Peterson respectfully responded to Bono’s comments about the lack of honesty that he had encountered in Christian music. Peterson tweeted, “I get where Bono is coming from, but the fact is, there’s TONS of honest Christian art. It just isn’t mainstream.” Along with many other fine releases, including his own, Love Lines the Last Horizon can be exhibit A in Peterson’s contention. It’s everything that a work of art by a Christian should be. It’s not only honest, but creative and has the power to move deeply. Just thinking about this release as I wrote my first draft brought tears to my eyes.
This is outside the mainstream, but it’s one of the best recordings of the year.