Song is one of the most beautiful representations of art and one that requires a great deal of skill to contrive. It comes in various forms as well – it can come as the written word, such as lyrics. It can come from one instrument or an entire orchestra. It can come from a soloist or an 100 voice choir. And if you were to combine it all together? Wow, what art! With so many variations, I would be hard pressed to select from it all. I can certainly narrow it this way: I have a leaning toward instruments that are what I call organic or natural. I love rock music and being a child of the ‘80’s, I understand synthetics and the interesting way it can be used to create music. But I also grew up in a house where the two instruments most often played were the acoustic guitar and the piano. These needed no digital processing or electric technology to make music – simply the hands and skills of my father and sister. And while there are plenty of people out there who are belting out vocals on pop songs and American Idol that are way better than most, my taste in vocals are usually for those who don’t sound so perfect. So with those considerations in mind, I would like to share some of what I consider to be some of the best art in song.
Caedmon’s Call: Share the Well
This album reminds me of a project from elementary school. Each of us had to bring a dish from a foreign country for lunch. This album is a way better international buffet than those feeble attempts we made. The songs contain instruments and styles from countries such as India and Ecuador. They also contain stories from Caedmon’s Call’s journeys to those lands. They tell of people who are hungry, who live in horrible conditions, at least to us. But they also tell of people who have found all they need in the God who loves them. There’s not another album like it.

WALL-E: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

I have a delight in the score of films and how they help tell a story. To listen to them away from the picture and action can reveal music that is beautiful, strong enough to stand on its own. Such is the case with this film. Thomas Newman’s music was going to be incredibly important for this film due to the lack of dialogue. It carried the film in so many ways. The music is often quirky, such as with “WALL-E” or “Foreign Contaminant”. There are some graceful pieces such as “EVE” and “Horizon 12.2”. But the use of the string and percussion elements throughout match the movie’s way of instilling a wonderment.

Jon Foreman: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer EP’s
Switchfoot is one amazing rock band, so when its lead singer and writer, Jon Foreman releases these solo EP’s, I was all over it. But what I got quite honestly beat the majority of Switchfoot’s work. I’ll start with Foreman’s vocals. My sister put it most properly – he sounds like he has a constant cold. And yet, he has a phenomenal voice. Next are the songs themselves. In stark contrast to the rockin’ hooks of Switchfoot, these EP’s are soft, acoustic ponderings that are thought provoking and excellently put together. My favorite is White as Snow, a beautiful expression of Psalm 51.

Chris Thile – Not All Who Wander Are Lost

The mandolin, the dobro, the acoustic guitar, the violin, no vocals = a most amazing showcase of talent. I have never been a big fan of bluegrass except for the instrumentals. While this is certainly progressive if it is bluegrass at all, the songs soar. Nearly all of them have that folk sound that evokes images of journeys, dances, or even a relaxing evening on the porch. “Raining at Sunset” is simply gorgeous. Music this wonderful requires no words to say anymore. Delightful.

Andrew Peterson – Behold the Lamb of God
I’ve written enough about AP to attest to the amazing artistry of this singer, writer, storyteller. But this album is a staple every Christmas, though it is quite applicable all year long. This is more than just songs – they tell a story, the Great Story of God’s unfailing love for sinners. These songs evoke emotion – “So Long Moses” sounds angry, “Deliver Us” shares tragedy, “Matthew’s Begats” is lighthearted and fun, Jill Phillips tugs at your heart on “Labor of Love”, and “Behold the Lamb of God” quietly and powerfully brings all the attention to God. It is all done with amazing instrumentals. Mix in the album artwork and this one hits art in word, form, and song. That is quite an accomplishment.

Song – art that stays with you long after it first hits the senses.

I feel a conclusion to all this coming soon.

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