Love & War & The Sea In Between is splendid. Josh is running full pace as a songwriter, surpassing prior projects like Jacaranda that were noteworthy themselves.
This is an album of highly textured recordings. Though each track is recognizably coloured with his energetic breakbeat style, Garrels’ conquest of genres is remarkable. Masterful interweaving results in a tasty and sometimes surprising euphony. Joining Garrels on several tracks is the Mason Jar Music Orchestra.
Romantic, poetic, and anthemic, Garrels draws in his listener’s mind, heart, soul and spirit. The album bears the mark of a deep thinker and/or an old soul. Intricate and mystical concepts on faith, society, and personhood are synthesized in pithy verses. Here’s a snippet from ‘Resistance’:
“Itching ears will compulsively nod in approval
When unbelief is taught in all our temples and schools
But God can restrain the madness of a fool?
He can bring His truth through the mouth of a mule
You can move an mountain without any tools
It just takes the faith of a little seed
to make a way through what might seem to be impossibility”
One of the boldest and most puzzling details about Love & War & The Sea In Between is that it is available for FREE for one year. Why? Josh discloses on his blog, “We’ve really felt the Lord asking us to give this album away for one year, and it’s our joy to do so!”
Josh is intentional about using the word “we”. He always uses it when referring to his work, a team effort with his wife Michelle, who worked on the album art and supported him throughout his series of illnesses in the past year (talk about resistance: “Hold fast, like an anchor in the storm”). Like a growing number of family music teams (Gungor, Danielson, and Brian and Jenn Johnson, to name a few), Josh and Michelle’s earnest desire for their art is to pursue the heart and will of God. “Pray for us”, Josh requests of his listeners, so that their work might go into the places where it can bring life. “Like a messenger of peace / the beauty waits to be released / upon the sacred path you came / leading deeper into the unveiling / as you’re sailing across the great divide”. At the core of God’s kingdom is family; it is this which he invites us into. We need models of family like these in our culture, who can pull others into God’s family.
Counter-intuitively, projects done for no pay are often those done with the most passion. Just ask Google about the ideas that came from “20% time” projects. True to form, it seems like like Josh has put the most work into this album; at 18 songs, it’s double the number of tracks on a standard LP, all which required polishing, rehearsal, mixing, and mastering. Josh recounts on his blog, “The process of creating this album has by far been the most rigorous mental and spiritual struggle I’ve known as an artist”.
In the year ahead, they have bigger plans for this project: among other things you can read about on his blog, Love & War & The Sea In Between will eventually be published in the form of a lovely hardcover book. Individually stamped copies of the CD will be given away at concerts.
The album contains diverse subject matter. Some songs are darker and deeply reflective, matched beautifully in the music, while others recall the simplicity of the gospel. Again, this music is coming from a man of prayer and thought who sees both the world’s problems and God’s solutions. Here is a dose of hope from ‘Beyond The Blue’:
“So lift your voice just one more time
If there’s any hope may it be a sign
That everything was made to shine
Despite what you can see
So take this bread and drink this wine
And hide your spirit within the vine
Where all things will work by a good design
For those who will believe”
Being free, there’s no reason not to download this album.