Alright, this post will be rather unlike most of the usual stuff you'll see on this site, but the more people that can get plugged in to Josh Garrels' music, the better.
Josh Garrels is a Christian folk-rock singer that I learned of several months ago (right before Thanksgiving of 2011) from Bob Kaufflin's fantastic blog. Kaufflin linked to Josh's site by saying that it was some of the most unique Christian music he had ever heard. That got me interested, so I checked it out. Turns out Garrels' latest album, "Love, War, and the Sea In Between" was available for free, so I took advantage. I'm glad I did. I've been listening to him since then and have also downloaded one of his other albums and some additional singles.
The music is something like a mix of folk rock and hip hop, as weird as that may sound. The lyrics are phenomenal, theologically rich and masterfully penned. He writes things in ways that would never occur to me. Here's a sample from "Farther Along." You can listen to the whole song here.
Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and a pack of lights, fighting for my soul
And I've got no place left to go
Cause I got changed by what I've been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin' on
Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I'm free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I'll get back up
For the joy that overflows myc up
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levee and my bluff
Let the flood wash me
And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, and we're the guests
So put your voice up to the test,
Sing "Lord, come soon"
Here's another sample from his song, "Sweet River Roll." The images in this song are amazing. Listen to/watch it here.
It's like the water in the valley, submerged totally
Yet all the children rally around the safety of their shallow beliefs
Let's swim against the current out and into the deep
But first I pray the Lord for my soul to keep
That price payed was not cheap as I stand knee deep in his blood
We're knee deep in his blood
See, I choose to refuse the regulated rhetoric of someone else's rehearsed ideals
In place of a real living commitment, hell no
We put the rock in the water and it made cement
We put the water with the wheat and then we made it ferment
Shine light through the rain and a spectrum represent
We're pumping water through the veins and the brain's content
Went down to the river following providence
Old man, under water gonna die when he repents
Old man, under water gonna die when he repents
One final example, and then I'll shut up about the musical genius of Josh Garrels. My favorite song of his is called "Rise." Listen to it here.
Take courage, sons, for we must go under
The heart of darkness and set them free
But don't lose heart when you see the numbers
There's no measure for the faith we bring
It's given us to overcome
If we run where the Spirit calls us on
The greatest things have yet to come
With the dawn we will rise
Though they may surround us like lions
And crush us on all sides
We may fall, but we will rise
Not by my might or my power
Or by the strength of swords
Only through your love, my Lord
All we've lost will be restored
Another thing that drew me to Garrels' music was that he was giving away his most recent album. It was downloaded more than 125,000 times and he was subsequently named Christianity Today's best artist for 2011. How does the guy make a living when he gives away a phenomenally successful record? Garrels tells the story like this: he was finishing the album but had yet to lay any of the vocal tracks, due to an illness that caused him to lose his voice for an extended period of time. He recalls crying out to God to restore his voice as money was getting tight and he didn't have an album to sell. He says that he felt God lead him to trust him - both for the completion of the album and to provide for him in the wake of a lack of funds. Garrels said God led him to give away the album for free for one year and to trust him with everything - a year of jubilee, so to speak. So that's what he did. Turns out God provided by boosting Josh's notoriety, thereby increasing sales of previous albums and attendance at concerts. Money was not an issue.
Unfortunately, the album is no longer free (the year of jubilee has ended) but you can still get his latest album, "Love, War, and the Sea In Between" for a good price and support one of the most innovative Christian musicians on the scene right now. Go get it. You won't be disappointed.