Brianna Gaither is a singer-songwriter from Oklahoma City with a knack for creating music that’s more than pop, yet contains all the elements that make it so listenable.
Love Is Patient is her new release. Available on iTunes and noisetrade, I’d recommend this album for its masterful lyrics and exquisite music – the whole album is very rich in texture, depth, and style. Brianna and her band team capture the art of a song that’s listenable and innovative. They appear not to settle for the redundancies of mainstream pop, and yet learn from it, allowing it to inform the music. Tracks “Stepping Stones” and “Let It Go” are great examples here, as Brianna’s thoughtful lyrics reflect upon coming home or freeing oneself from anxieties or negativity, but are offered in a musical package that is highly accessible and even radio-friendly. She reminds me a little of Ingrid Michaelson and Maria Taylor (who are each impressive in their own right).
Other things an audiophile will enjoy on this album are the fantastic harmonies (for example, on “Let It Go”, “Harvest Moon”, and “Find You”), and the use of piano as well as orchestral tones to enrich the soundscape, as well as the the spotlight placed on the lyrics, purposefully elevated sonically above the music to really stand out.
Opening track “Find You” is a song about waiting for someone special – but it’s not one of “those” saccharine songs about the perfect person. She asks, “Will you be true when I find you? Will you still be you?” When we meet that person, they’re going to be real! Will we allow and encourage them to be themselves, or will we try to turn them into our own selves? Listen to this track at Spirit, Ocean, Dust, Life and enjoy its lush textures and its surprises; this song is incredibly catchy and yet so distinct from the typical indie-pop hook.
Brianna’s impressive range shines on “Find You” as she follows chromatic scales up and down in the verses before hitting some notes at the top of her range in the choruses, doubled with some gorgeous harmonies. The track then segues into a pretty crazy stylistic adventure in what my drummer roommate and I are nicknaming “polka-dot-funk” (catch it at 3:44) and slips back into driving 4-beat rock paired with conviction by Brianna’s simple yet powerful, “I’ll…find…you…”.
That’s just one track. As the album opens up, Brianna shows us she’s not a one-style composer. “Harvest Moon” and “Home” are powerful ballads that can’t prevent me from thinking of Michael Buble or Josh Groban. And although I’ve personally not been a big fan of either of them, the fact that I hear them in those ballads is not a bad thing, because I’m making a connection to their talent and eminence in their genres, and the power that lies behind the contemporary ballad. “Home” could easily find itself on a wedding playlist.
The last two songs on the album also surprised me very pleasantly. Rich in metaphor and reflective upon the most important things in life, you’re really going to have to listen to tracks for yourself, because the message here is a tad ineffable.
Organic Family Hymnal
Rend Collective Experiment
Liturgical Post-Rock, Northern Ireland
The Rend Collective Experiment began with about six spiritually searching 20-somethings curious about how to live out Christian faith and is now a full-fledged intentional community based around biblical concepts. the Rend Collective is passionate about social justice, family, and worship. The Organic Family Hymnal is the sonic expression of this community.
Organic Family Hymnal is about resolve and intention, faithfully reflecting the very core of the Collective. Upbeat, chiming track “Movements” resolves to run towards God and continue making movements towards Him no matter what happens. Likewise, “Broken Bread” states “I will not fight you; take me past the line that my heart draws.” The album contains some beautiful meditations upon the closeness of God: “No one really knows what it is to be alone, since you’ve never left our side”, as well as confessions such as “in suffering or joy, we will confide in your perfect love”. Organic Family Hymnal forms a beautiful musical liturgy.
The music is part rock, part folk, and part post-rock, reminiscent of The Rock N’ Roll Worship Circus, David Crowder (who sings on track “Faithful”), Phil Wickham, and at times Future of Forestry and Gungor. If you like what you hear, Organic Family Hymnal Parts 2 and 3 are also available
Profound writing does two things. It triggers a response with its power and escapes full comprehension, since its layered meanings can’t be grasped immediately. Poetry, folk tale, and scripture possess this kind of force. It’s a loss to gloss over them.
If you desire something deep, spare some time to explore Listener’s album Wooden Heart. Subtitled “Poems”, it’s an album full of heart-wrenching and resonant spoken word pieces set against fitting sonic backdrops. Dan Smith (of The Chariot) speaks and shouts pleadingly and searchingly in his southern drawl while Chris Nelson creates soundscapes with all kinds of stringed, percussive, and wind instruments. Listener sets itself apart from other music with its uncommon lyric/music blend. The spoken word isn’t rap; it’s free verse performance poetry, and will be familiar to fans of mewithoutYou. Dan Smith captures paradoxes with lines like, “Whispering poems to themselves about nonsense and existence…I don’t wanna die” and, “We all sing songs about life, we just sing them different. You sing the words, but you don’t know the song”.
Dan’s lyrics contains much wit: “we are all born broken people on our most honest day of living”. In the acerbic track “Seatbelt Hands”, Dan describes a broken woman by saying “she always starts with a smile, small and butter yellow, but easier than a handshake – she doesn’t like her hands touched. She tans a lot and gets burned a lot . . . she was born on the fourth of July, loves America and being patronized”.
Wooden Heart is different, refreshing, thoughtful, and brilliant. The image speaks to our tendency to become hard-hearted or even splinter, and yet reflects our vitality and potential for new growth. Listener points out our brokenness, describing us all as “shipwrecks” and yet reminds us to “wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief . . . If we hold on tight, we’ll hold each other together, and wash up on the shore”.
Hip-Hop, Seattle, WA
At the turn of the millennium, Blue Scholars pioneered hip-hop in Seattle, a city known for grunge and indie rock. After more than a decade of their melodic stylistics and honest verse, Geo (rapper) and Sabzi (DJ) have a veteran’s perspective on Seattle’s now-fruitful hip-hop culture and mix in plenty of pithy local nostalgia.
Cinémetropolis is noteworthy for unconventional and creative backing tracks that are a far cry from your standard mainstream beats. Marketing this album largely independently via Bandcamp, Blue Scholars continue to evolve with the times and are currently working on side projects in New York, California, and elsewhere. Embracing the concept of “reverse soundtracks”, Geo and Sabzi encourage you to make music videos inspired by tracks on this album.