Wait A Second, I'm Still Listening
I am an avid listener of music. I try to listen across the boards to a bunch of different stuff. Instead of doing a "best of 2015" post, I wanted to do a simple "I am still listening to these albums." These albums are in absolutely no order. These are the albums getting significant spins multiple months later. I'd venture to guess I listen to these albums on a weekly basis.
I am going to kick off this list with two musicals that have been absolutely dominating my music cycles. There is something about coherent albums that has always attracted me (hence, a reoccurring obsession with Coheed and Cambria). The first such musical/album is from Sara Bareilles. With pop greatness like "When He Sees Me" and "You Matter To Me," I keep returning to this album. Yet, the story of the music is able to lock me into multiple listens. I can go a month without listening only to consume the album three times in a single day. Multiple tracks could be placed on repeat but I settle for putting the whole album on repeat.
The second album constantly in my rotation is a legit rap-opera (podcast and review). Based on the very full and rollercoaster life of Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton is a rapid highlight reel of one of the most influential men in American history. The highs and lows of Alexander Hamilton are put on display with awesome tunes such as "My Shot," "Helpless," "Non-Stop," and "It's Quiet Uptown." Expect tears. Expect anger. But you'll be eager to listen again as soon as possible.
I can hope that this album will encourage a renewed look at the early politics of our nation. The early fathers were far from perfect. But in their grace, and disgrace, we can learn many things. This album provides some culturally prevalent examples.
I was introduced to Isbell sometime late 2014 or early 2015. His album Southeastern was one of my favorite spins as I waited for his next album. And it will probably be one of the great albums of my lifetime. In all of this, though, Isbell is an enigma to me.
He is a man who suffered through addictions and wrote amazing music. This can be readily comprehended from his music. But there is something more to be found in his future. There is a sense of settling down in Something More Than Free. "If It Takes A Lifetime" and "Speed Trap Town" are amazing. This is stripped-down music at its finest. You can sit on your porch, close your eyes, and hear Isbell singing right beside you.
Karl Barth had Mozart. I have Isbell. I look forward to heaven with this man — God's grace be upon him.
This album essentially rounds out the styles of music I listen to on a regular basis. I have grown past the punk, emo, ska, & whatever that I listened to as a young man. These styles of music are fine in themselves. But I have found more fervor with words than tunes. There is something about the language provided to this album that makes me listen with regularity. And this album helps me focus on my writing. I make no apologies for the more popish nature of this album compared to their previous work.
I discovered David Ramirez last year. His latest album dropped last year. It is not my favorite album from him, but it speaks to a maturity that I can appreciate as I myself mature. His honesty is not where mine is. Nor am I convinced it is where I ever want to be. I can't help but smirk at the anti-religious under/over-tones pervading "Communion," "Rock and a Hard Place," and "Hold On."
Ramirez is one who came face to face with Christianity and rejected it. I neither have the obstinance or faith to make such claims. Ultimately, Jesus Christ Himself has claimed me. Yet, Ramirez encourages me. "New Way of Living," "On Your Side," and "How Do You Get 'Em Back" stir all forms of thought in my mind. This is an album I will be chewing on for awhile. I will be twisting the words to my heart's content. And I will enjoy the process.