Christian music (or why some music is plastic)

I was listening to an old Horace Andy album a few days ago and this popped up:-


I was immediately captivated by the simplicity of the tune and the honesty of how he sang it: it moved me, in much the same way that Stormzy ‘Blinded by your grace’ did. I have almost no knowledge of Horace Andy (although I’ve seen him with Massive Attack), but I believe that he is a Rastafarian.

It spoke to me as it seems so unforced; in the middle of what you normally do in your profession, you sing about your faith/view of the world as it is natural to do so. In other songs it might be hinted at, but it is not dominated by it, because you sing and make music because that is what you do.

I have a blind spot when it comes to ‘Christian music’; mainly because when as a young Christian I was introduced to it, it seemed, well ‘not real’: overproduced, simplistic lyrics, pale pastiche of established style that was just ‘borrowed’ without any feeling and just…bland. At that point I wanted to yell ‘The king has got no clothes on’.

That feeling has never left me. From time to time, I’ve tried out the latest Christian ‘big thing’ and have usually been disappointed for much the same reasons. I’ve often wondered about the artistic discrimination of those who uncritically consume such music or whose only foray into ‘secular’ music venues is for the ‘safety’ of a Christian experience (mind you, I’ve also wondered what this says about the theology of mission there, but that is another story). I think it was the record producer T.Bone Burnett who said something like if you were a bricklayer who was a Christian and make a poor job building something, merely spray painting the word ‘Christian’ on it doesn’t make it any good.

I will continue to look; I can’t write anything off, but I’m not hopeful: leave me with those artists who are out there in the normal market place and whose faith breaks through like rain on a sunny day (Cash, Sufjan Stevens, U2, Damien Jurado et etc), but save me from those who have the sun turned up to 11 and any doubt or nuance tip-exed out.