Saturday, August 18, 2007

cd review: Under the Gaze


Before I got my Mac it was simple to ignore the Apple iTunes store. Not any more. It's way too easy now to click on over and start browsing (with that direct link from my iTunes app), thus putting myself in the way of all kinds of temptation. That's what happened last Saturday night -- and before I knew it, I was the proud owner of Carolyn Arends' 2004 release "Under the Gaze." After all, I said to myself, how often do I find myself loving every single clip of a whole CD?

I'm not exactly sure what classification this album falls into. It's part folk, part pop and has a definite roots feel to it (accompanied as Carolyn is by Spencer Capier - roots musician par excellence -- Plays Well With Others -- and his managerie of acoustic instruments from fiddle to sitar with lots of guitar and mandolin in between). Arends' voice is plaintive. It's been called a "little girl voice" and she's been compared to Carole King and Joni Mitchell. Her voice also reminds me of the female Rankin Family singers.

Arends' lyrics are the real treat for me, though. This 12-track album (13 if you count the short and most adorable hidden track) begins with what I think of as an appetizer song, "This is the Moment" (you've been waiting for) -- an upbeat tune that exudes anticipation and hope.

Here are some other highlights:

- "Any Given Sunday," a song about the church, complete with sly humor ("you can count on singin' every kind of music /.... most of it's in tune").

- Personal songs "Getting Ready for Glory" (a song about Steve Bell's grandmother); "Your Laugh" - a love song to and about her husband; "Only Time Will Tell" - a story song about a friends' baby born with a hole in its heart - chokes me up every time I listen to it.

- "Not a Tame Lion" and "Under the Gaze" (fav lines: "Every hair is measured / Every prayer is treasured), "Half a Million Reasons" and "Who You Are" - songs about God and the big picture of where we humans fit with Him.

- "May You Live," a song of blessing, ends the album. Tight harmonies on this one remind me, again, of the Rankin Family.

If you want an uplifting, rootsy, and very listenable album with poetic lyrics that never cease to surprise and delight get yourself a download or the actual CD of Carolyn Arends' "Under the Gaze." You won't regret it.

Listen to clips and view album lyrics (and the story behind each song) from this link (click on [AUDIO/LYRICS/LINER NOTES] beside Under the Gaze).


Carolyn Arends - official website
(She's in Calgary - First Alliance Church - this weekend)
Carolyn Arends - on MySpace
Spencer Capier - on MySpace
Christianity Today interviews Carolyn on "Under the Gaze"

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