30 March 2010

All's Lost, All's Found

I don't typically write reviews of stuff for public viewing, but it's another way that I can support my friends in their art in a concrete way, so I went ahead and did it.

My friend Ben recently digitally released a solo album (physical discs coming soon with package artwork by the fabulous Jodi Hays). It's really good. I played cello on it. I'm really proud of my contributions. As in, "I can't believe I sound that good right there and that moment gives me goosebumps" proud of it. Specifically, track 7.

Anyway, I went ahead and submitted my review to amazon and iTunes. I encourage you to get this album and to listen to it thoroughly.

Here's the review:

(Full disclosure: I play cello on some of these tracks, though I have no financial stake in it.)

I've listened to this album a few times over the last few days. It rewards focused listening from start to finish. There's flow and understated beauty throughout these songs that variously put a lens on individual lives and relationships and tell stories of love, failure, loss, family, brokenness, healing, and hope. There are gorgeous sonic moments throughout.

The album is half instrumental tracks and half songs with lyrics, and all the tracks have a thoroughly crafted sensibility--fully realized with different textures and colors, building layers judiciously at just the right moments, never with too much. Some tracks groove and drive; others breathe full and slow. These are rich, acoustic soundscapes, and there are stories in all the songs, even the ones without lyrics.

The opening track, As I Mused, the Fire Burned, pulls you in like a steady tide. For You I Wait (track 5) is a study in sparseness, drawing everything it can out of a simple electric guitar groove, with the slightest support from percussion and lovely highlights from spacey, meandering clarinet lines that weave in and out. Rain On Consequence (track 7) is a personal favorite. I Lie Silenced (track 9) is an instrumental signpost that points back to the opening track; instead of the insistent piano pattern of the opener, the song presents a slowed down melodic motif, carried by a clear violin and punctuated by a stately pulse of chords underneath. The effect is somewhat reminiscent of Michael Giacchino's score work on Lost. The Wreckage (track 12) is, as the title might imply, a bit gut-wrenching. The closing track, All's Lost, All's Found, takes the thread started in the opening track and carried in I Lie Silenced and turns it into a brief, haunted epilogue, bordering on a lament, but still a reminder that beauty endures despite life's hardships.

Ben is a talented guitarist and singer and multi-instrumentalist sideman for other artists. He has a producer's exacting sensibilities, and this album is the fruit of years of labor, finally putting forth a cohesive project that reflects his own artistic voice. I'm proud to have been a part of this project, I'm excited to see what he does next, and I look forward to supporting his work in the future.

12 March 2010

This could only be a true story.

Background details:

- In order to avoid ATM fees (I don't have a local bank here in Nashville), I typically withdraw lumps of cash at a time--$100 or so to keep at home--at a local credit union that has a reciprocal arrangement with my home credit union wherein I can withdraw cash from my account from the teller as if I were a member there.

- I only use cash when I have to and for tips and stuff, and otherwise I generally use my credit card as much as possible (and pay it off every month).

- I hadn't gotten cash in a little while, so I was running low--specifically, down to $10.

So, today:

I met up with my friend Charlie after work to rehearse a bit on our own before a wedding rehearsal. Due to circumstances that just happened to him over the course of the day, he really needed $10 to put into his bank account as soon as possible.

Cool, I had $10, so we went to the bank and took care of it, then went to the wedding rehearsal.

There I had a funny encounter (no one that you know) that left me feeling anxious and insecure. We went on to the rehearsal dinner (my first Monell's experience!) and had some time mingling outside over drinks, but the anxiety was definitely still weighing on me.

I had been encouraged by some things that a friend of mine shared on her blog about pouring out our crap to God and just talking with him about it--he knows it all and our hearts, but he desires to actually be in relationship with us.

So I decided to get some air and take a walk up the street for a couple blocks. I shared my insecurities to God, unburdening the ways that I was running over things in my mind and feeling anxious and fearful, then turned around and headed back toward the restaurant.

I was feeling some relief, continuing to pray that God would draw my focus from myself in all these various ways and to Jesus instead. And right then, I looked down at the pavement and saw a $10 bill folded in half on the street.

I laughed out loud and asked God something like, "Really, is this what you want to give me? I mean, I'll take it, but that's kinda funny." I got back and told Charlie that he didn't need to pay me back--that God had just given me the $10 that I had passed it on to him earlier.

Fast forward through a couple hours of fantastic food and company and toasts to the wedding couple:

I got home just as my housemate was heading out to a show at a local restaurant around the corner. He asked me, "Hey, do you have any cash? That way I won't have to go to the ATM right now."

I replied, "Sure, I got ten bucks."

06 March 2010

I lost my cell phone today.

I think I know how it happened, too, and if that's the case, then it is GONE.

So I've decided to move on, at least in terms of looking into getting a new phone in the morning.

I feel a bit annoyed at myself. And also anxious at the missed communications from the day and my current lack of ability to contact people. It's really really really not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but it's the situation that I'm currently living, and it feels sufficiently weighty that I'm wrestling with knots and frustrations inside and fading in and out of trusting Jesus in the midst of it.

It will be a hassle to put all the numbers back in my phone, but that's workable. I just got home from a fun little show that my church put on, and the house is quiet, and I'm realizing something about being cut off from people. I don't know most of my friends' numbers by memory--I just look for their names in my list of contacts, of course.

Something about names and people and feeling cut off. I'm sure it'll be fine, but I just wanted to put it down in writing while I was still feeling like a silly goober.

Oh, and I also accidentally (stupidly) chipped the tip of my cello bow during a rehearsal earlier today. It should be easily repairable, and maybe I'll use it as an excuse to get my bow re-haired (it's been a while).

Today had its goodness and beauty, for sure.

But still.