Ok, so most people that know me know I'm not big into "Christian Music". Now I love music with spiritual meaning, but am not fond of the bands who are under the "Christian" label. I have all kinds of theological issues with that terminology, but we'll save that...
Mostly I find that "Christian Music/Artists" are full of fluff...probably not their fault as it is all they have been exposed to in their religious upbringing... the music that they could best relate to was "rockish" yet sub-par and the language that they heard being used was fluffy "church language", not authentic dialog.
So yeah, that's in short my beef with Christian artists. As a musician, call me a snob, but I like solid music, and I really like meaty, thought-provoking lyrics! Now that's not to say there are not good artists under the "Christian Label", indeed there are. Mat Kearney started under a Christina label but went to the secular branch (reaching a bigger audience that would turn away from the religious tag...music companies are smart...they know their audience), yet did not change anything in his music. The big dogs just thought he was "bigger" than the "Christian" label.
Anyway, I say all that to say that when a "Christian Artist" does come out with something musically and lyrically solid, then my little ears perk up. There are some emerging artists that have been given the freedom, and found the necessity to shed the fluff for a more authentic (to themselves personally and spiritually) approach.
One band that I liked when they first came out, kinda lost interest in for several years, and then recaptured my attention was Jars of Clay. I loved their first album... still do in fact. I had the next 2 Cd's, and then just stopped. But then came Redemption Songs. What they did was remarkable; they took songs with authentic lyrics (Hymns of all places!!!), and made them more relevant musically (read not organ/classical approach) while producing quality music!
Now they are doing it again with their new CD, Christmas Songs. Especially with the hymn, Love Came Down At Christmas. Hey if the formula works, why mess with it?
But to add to it, not only are they reimagining and repainting a classic hymn, but when I saw the video I was at first like, "what the heck".... but then on my second watching I was blown away with what they had done...and so simply!
They took the unlikely story of Christmas, and made it relevant by making this gift of love that came at Christmas (represented by a heart) and repainted the story in an even more unlikely way!!!!! I don't mean unlikely in a negative term, but according to the story, EVERYTHING that happens, happens in the most unlikely and unexpected ways! That's part of the beauty of the narrative!
My fav. part..."Mary" rides into town, not on a donkey, but on a unicorn!!!! yeah! Also like that the guitar is singing the guitar part. 3 "wise men" coming in a rocket? Oooo Oooo and the Dinosaurs being a part of the nativity (showing what is parabolic about Christ being born among animals in a stable: that all of creation was rejoicing in the Emmanuel-birth of their creator)! All like it was imagined like a child... I think that baby Jesus later on said something about faith like a child...in fact didn't Jars of Clay write a song to that effect???
sorry...I'm back....Just so much there! Enjoy!
So I present to you (via YouTube):
Love Came Down At Christmas--Jars of Clay