It’s been forever since I’ve posted any news here. This past year has been a whirlwind of writing, touring, and recording. I’ve been on the road just about every weekend this fall. My travels have taken me from Toronto to Vancouver this year and to almost every major city in between. It’s been exhausting, but it’s also been a lot of fun.
The biggest news this past year was the release of the new album, “Rumours of Light”, which you can pick up in the store here on my website or on my bandcamp page . In June, I headed to Vancouver to work on a new album with my friend and producer, Jonathan Anderson. We released the album in September and, since then, I’ve been busy playing concerts and trying to promote it.
It seems a strange time to release an album, though. There’s a general feeling of doom and gloom hanging over the music industry these days. Most of the artists I know are scaling back or downsizing in some way. Even veteran artists, whose names you’d likely recognize. Many are looking for other work on the side. (I’ve had to pick up some work in the oilfield this fall to help pay down the new album.) Some are throwing in the towel altogether. Who’s to say what the cause is? Whether it’s the recession, or the massive amount of new music coming at us online, or that people seem to be less interested in attending concerts. As an independent artist, all the cost (and all the risk) of producing albums and promoting tours comes from my shallow pockets. I’ve tried to establish partnerships with a few different organizations over the past year, and while those relationships have been encouraging, it hasn’t translated into much by way of financial help.
But I keep pressing on, despite the hardships, because I believe that creating art contributes to an apologetic of beauty. I think that when we hear good music or look at a flower or a sunset, something comes alive within us that begins to call out to something grander. Scientific observation can tell you why sunlight from a certain angle, refracting off of dust particles in the air produces the various colours and hues of a sunset. It may even explain how looking at something like this causes a release of endorphins in the brain to create a feeling of calm and pleasure, but this reductionist explanation ultimately leads to what seems to me to be an ugly view of the world. Scientific observation, is able to tell us how a sunset is beautiful, but I don’t think it can answer the question of why it’s beautiful, why whe desire or even need beauty.
I believe there’s a real need for the Church in our day to recapture the importance of beauty for beauty’s sake. Beauty awakens our imaginations and causes us to ask questions of meaning and purpose. Questions whose answers are outside the realm of scientific observation. The trouble is that as time goes on, the Church becomes more pragmatic, less inspiring, and therefore less convincing.
Rather than singing fresh, thoughtful songs written by members of our own communities, we sing the latest Top 40 worship “hits” which increasingly seem to be written by a select few artists to appeal to the lowest common denominator. These songs seldom capture the imagination or inspire much theological reflection.
Now, I’m not presuming that my work is the answer to this problem, but my hope is to at least contribute to the solution. So I keep working, despite the fact that it’s getting harder and harder to continue. I believe that a Church without beauty is like a body without a soul, lifeless and dead. I
think as we bring beauty back into the Church, Christ’s body will be filled with His Spirit. So, good art is important in order to strengthen the Church.
One of the other facets of my work that I never anticipated has been the opportunity to sit and talk with pastors and leaders from the various churches I visit. Having been in pastoral ministry, I understand some of the challenges and struggles that these men and women face. Some of them face fears, loneliness and discouragement, but have no one in their church or denomination that they feel safe to talk with. Since I come in as an outsider whose not affiliated with their denomination or local church, many pastors see me as someone who’s in the unique position of being both understanding and “safe”. I’ve had many opportunities to listen and pray with pastors while I’ve played at their churches or even stayed in some of their homes. Although this isn’t a formal part of my work, it is, nonetheless, a real privilege to be able to minister and help strengthen the Church in this way.
I have no idea what the future holds for us. I’m hoping that as one year closes, and a new year dawns, there’ll be a change. It’s getting harder to do this alone. I hope and pray that opportunities or partnerships will present themselves in the New Year that will allow my work to advance.
Either way, I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to do this over the past few years, and so thankful to all of you who’ve contributed to my work by ordering CD’s, attending a concert, or spread the word about my music, particularly in this past year. My sincere hope is that, in some way, you’ve found your soul strengthened through it.