Dianna Anderson has today collected all the posts for her synchroblog on what we learned from Christian music. I covered the “serious” aspects of this discussion in my first and second posts, but before leaving the topic, I’d like to briefly reflect a few albums that meant a whole lot in my adolescence and that I return to on occasion, not just for nostalgia’s sake but because they speak truth & beauty in a language I still understand. (There were other albums I listened as much or more in my teens, like Skillet’s Collide or Relient K’s albums, but they haven’t necessarily had as much of a discernible lasting impact.)
Sixpence None The Richer, “Divine Discontent”
This is one of those albums that isn’t overtly Christian, but still got slapped with a CCM label. They charted with a cover (which I didn’t know was a cover) of “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” which I loved, but the record as a whole covers topics more diverse than what’s typically on K-Love’s top 40. I felt deeply the grieving injustice of “Paralyzed” and the nostalgic yearning in “A Million Parachutes.” Sixpence didn’t do many worship-y ballads, but their songs, on this record and others, took on social themes that most of their peers didn’t approach, usually in small, story-heavy ways as in “Paralyzed,” “I Won’t Stay Long,” “The Fatherless and the Widow,” and even “The Lines in my Earth,” which I interpreted as a critique of the industry, maybe even broader evangelicalism.
Nichole Nordeman, “Woven & Spun”
There’s a little more country and softness in these songs than I’d usually prefer, but there’s something about Nordeman’s lyrics that lures me in: She doesn’t strike me as flaunting performer so much as fellow pilgrim. I believe Nordeman believes what she’s singing. This album is about as contemplative as you can get in CCM, and “Gratitude” and her “Doxology” rendition are just plain beautiful. And bonus, this record made me a fan of “In Your Eyes” long before I saw John Cusack iconize it with a boombox.
Jennifer Knapp, “The Collection”
In a genre dominated by peppy pop, Jennifer Knapp stood out like a cigar-smoking, Chucks-wearing beat poet in a bright pink sorority on parent weekend. Before I knew I loved melancholy white boys with guitars (you know: Amos Lee, Ray LaMontagne, James Blunt, the Avetts), I loved this melancholy white girl with a guitar. There’s a rawness and sadness in her songs that I needed in those long quiet years of adolescence. “A Little More,” “Martyrs & Thieves,” “The Way I Am” — this was a loneliness and a faith I recognized. This was Knapp often unhappy with herself, and sometimes even unhappy with God. This was David’s mournful psalms and Paul’s introspective letters. And “Hold Me Now” — especially the second verse — will always, always echo around in the background of my heart.
What CCM albums do you still hold dear?