Friends, it’s been eight months and I don’t know whether to apologize or just to shrug and say, “Well, you get what you signed up for” (which with me is always a grand delay followed by apologies aplenty).
Y’know what, if I don’t apologize, then you’ll get what you didn’t expect: a grand delay and then something wonderful accompanied by no apologies! Hurrah!
(If you’re new here, back in January I offered to recommend albums to friends… and then never got around to it. UNTIL NOW.)
If you’ve never heard me talk about music before, here’s a few notes about my taste so you know where I’m coming from:
- I love Andrew Peterson’s music wholeheartedly, but tend to dislike most other CCM (Christian contemporary).
- I don’t mind Jess Ray, Caroline Cobb, Ross King, and Skye Peterson, though.
- Other than that the majority of my listening is indie folk-style artists (The Gray Havens, The Arcadian Wild, The Longest Johns, Flannel Graph, Luz, Thomas Austin, etc.)
- I have also been known to enjoy the occasional pop song (Olivia Rodrigo, Renee Rapp, and Taylor Swift all somehow uncannily understand my dramatic emotional side).
- Broadway makes me happy, particularly Hadestown and Fiddler on the Roof.
- And I love good soundtracks, like Tolkien, Gladiator, This Beautiful Fantastic, and anything Howard Shore. Audiomachine is cool too.
All of this means that I am basically trying to get you to listen to my favorite music 😎 But with the cool twist that I’m giving you full albums (because they were meant to be listened to in order!) and that I’m trying to match something that I like to your particular taste (:
for CC ~
My friend CC is a fan of soundtracks (such as LOTR and Audiomachine), CCM, BTS, Broadway, and Celtic music! She doesn’t usually love folk (but liked Sarah Sparks’ lyrics) and really loves Dimash’s song “STRANGER.”
For CC I recommend Ella Mine’s Dream War.
It’s a captivating and haunting album, a journey through years of pain and suffering into the light. The lyrics are meaningful and remind of Sarah Sparks, but the music is more rock/soundtrack style, with some Celtic influences (at least as far as I can tell. also, there are bagpipes). I’m a fan.
If we wake and we wake in the middle of the night
Hearts racing, beds blazing, fingers cold as ice
If we dream then we dream of the dark inside
Calling off the dream war cause I
Can’t keep the waves from breaking on this shore
Calling off the dream war I
Already lost the dreams I was fighting for
~ Ella Mine | Dream War ~
for Kailey ~
Kailey likes Sarah Sparks, The Brilliance, and Ghost Ship. She hasn’t liked what she’s heard of Andrew Peterson and The Gray Havens so far but is open to them.
(My first recommendation of course is to listen to AP/TGH, because they’re wonderful… their earlier albums are closer to a Sarah Sparks-sort of sound!)
But my real recommendation is The Arcadian Wild (their self-titled album).
A modern folksy sort of sound with incredible lyrics and a good mix of serious topics and lighthearted songs!
I’m being frightened by the people
They look at me like I’m a scar upon their perfect skin
Perfect to only them
I’m being shadowed by my past
Reminding me of what I was and what I could become
My sins should stay where they belong
~ The Arcadian Wild | Rain Clouds ~
for Grace ~
Grace likes Lifehouse, Relient K, Jeremy Camp, Danny Gokey, and OneRepublic, but doesn’t enjoy pop or country.
This was a bit of a challenge for me but my rec is The Gray Havens’ Blue Flower!
This new album of theirs has a very pop sound. It’s not as directly Christian as most of the albums that Grace likes, but there are lots of references to Christ (and Narnia!) that make me happy.
Pulled up in a train that was goin’ down the tracks
I had heard about the fame, but I didn’t get the facts
First step, got down, started walkin’ to the beat
Of a one-way ticket on a two-way street, hey
~ The Gray Havens | It’s Possible ~
for Olivia ~
Olivia and I have very similar taste in music and can guess what the other will enjoy fairly well 🙂 She likes Mumford and Sons, Sleeping at Last, The Arcadian Wild, Imagine Dragons, Ben Platt, Shane and Shane, and The Gray Havens.
My recommendation is Levi the Poet’s Correspondence: a fiction.
*content warning: some tracks mention alcoholism, broken families, and sex (not explicit at all!). read lyrics here before listening if you’re concerned: https://www.levithepoet.net/music-lyrics.
The music of this album is ethereal and a little folksy and all-around wonderful, and the words (it’s spoken word poetry) are so moving… Chapter Seven and Chapter Twelve are definitely my favorites, but do listen to it in order! It tells a story of love and death and life and learning to live again when someone you love has died. And it’s inspired by Moby Dick and Treasure Island and C.S. Lewis and so much good literature… I very much love it.
But when your bottles float in, there is nothing as beautiful as their dim glow, and my heart longs after them. Their colors catch my eye, dank bourbon or molded green protecting white sheets painted with calligraphic handwriting, tainted with damp expressions of the bottle’s history, but purely you… Purely you.
I’ve been thinking about just what beauty is,
but no amount of thinking has added beauty to it.
All I know is that it points beyond itself,
like I long beyond your love notes, like I long for you.
I’ve seen the entire spectrum
refracting off the ripples beneath my bare feet
from the edge of this weathered dock,
and thought, God, there’s got to be more than this.
I have no idea what to believe,
but beauty pulls me beyond myself like I don’t even have a choice,
so I know I don’t believe in nothing.
~ Levi the Poet | Chapter Seven: Orphan Theism ~
for Ryan Elizabeth ~
I love Ryan’s music taste! She likes K-pop, indie, folk, pop, indiecoustica, & alternative music with a dreamy quirky vibe — “catchy yet emotional.” Her favorite albums are Dear Wormwood (The Oh Hellos), Wake Low (Wake Low), Regional at Best (Twenty-One Pilots), The Burning Edge of Dawn (Andrew Peterson), and All Things Bright and Beautiful (Owl City). She also loves some Phoebe Bridgers, Coldplay, and half•alive, and she doesn’t prefer Jess Ray, Sarah Sparks, Josh Garrels, or The Gray Havens.
You present a challenge, friend, because it seems you love half of my favorite artists already and don’t like the other half 😛 But let’s see… I’m also going to point you to Ella Mine’s Dream War, because I think it would fit your taste really well. But my personalized rec shall be Flannel Graph’s Five Foot Three. (And if you’ve already listened to this I’m sorry! Try Dream War, I guess :))
This EP has some Wake Low-type vibes! Really good lyrics, acoustic music, and lovely harmonies.
Here in the darkness I in see the night
The mist and the waves try to fill me with fright
My weary soul waits as the morning dawns
But I won’t give you up, no, I won’t give you up
No I won’t give you up ’cause your light leads us on
The one who makes saints out of sailors
Carries my frame on his shoulders
He makes me lie down on green pastures
And leads me beside quiet waters
And he’s coming for me
~ Flannel Graph | Saints Out of Sailors ~
for Joy ~
Joy likes contemporary Christian, Broadway, and Disney! She particularly likes Phil Wickham, Michael W. Smith, Phillips Craig & Dean, Newsboys, Casting Crowns, Kutless, and the musicals Encanto, Les Mis, Hamilton, Hadestown, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
My recommendation is Andrew Peterson’s The Far Country!
I’m not a huge fan of most modern Christian music, but obviously I love Andrew Peterson, and I think this album is his most mainstream-sounding one (besides possibly Resurrection Letters Vol. I, which has “Is He Worthy” and thus has gotten a lot of mainstream attention). It’s sort of a connecting album between his older and newer styles (both of which I love dearly!) and so has some folk/acoustic sounds and some more modern CCM-typical styles. Also, the lyrics are fantastic (but when are his not?).
Nothing ever seems to change
But miles away beneath the waves
Down below the dirt
Hotter than a flame
In the belly of the earth
He has given you a Name
~ Andrew Peterson | Mountains on the Ocean Floor ~
for SJ ~
SJ likes classical, J-pop, and vocaloid music, specifically Tchaikovsky, 1989, Katharsis, Joe Hisaishi, and Harunohi, and she’s searching for recs outside her comfort zone!
My recommendation for SJ is Jess Ray’s Parallels + Meridians.
I think this one would be good for SJ because it’s not incredibly folksy (which is my normal taste) and might be a sort of meeting point between my acoustic style and SJ’s more pop/classical taste! We’ll have to see. Anyway, I love Jess Ray’s voice and lyrics, and her music is a good mix of guitar songs and synth/electric songs. (Another good album to try would be The Gray Havens’ Blue Flower, recommended above.)
I’ve heard of him, the mighty wind
One hundred stories
Till I was convinced to let him in
He waited for me
From black and white to technicolor bright
He changed the way I see
A mystery came over me
~ Jess Ray | Did Not Our Hearts Burn ~
for the Grim Writer ~
I attribute 70% of my cool music taste to the Grim Writer herself and thus feel very incompetent to recommend anything to her. But I shall try. She loves folk music, Hadestown, Anastasia, The Longest Johns, Lady Maisery, Colm McGuinness, and Stan Rogers.
First off, Grim, try Dream War. Really. It’s good.
My official recomendation is Andrew Peterson’s Carried Along.
This album comes from his more folksy era and so would suit you well, I think! I don’t know what else to say, ha. Good lyrics. Christian messages. 90s acoustic style. What more could you want?
Well, I realize that falling down ain’t graceful
But I thank the Lord that falling’s full of grace
Sometimes I take my eyes off Jesus
And you know that’s all it takes
‘Cause Job, he chased an answer
The wise men chased the Child
Jacob chased her 14 years and he captured Rachel’s smile
And Moses chased the Promised Land
Joseph chased a dream
David, he chased God’s own heart
All I ever seem to chase is me
~ Andrew Peterson | The Chasing Song ~
for Emily ~
Emily loves bands with two lead singers (harmonies!!) and enjoys songs by The Gray Havens, Tenth Avenue North, Jess Ray, Cody Carns, Home Free, Jordan St. Cyr, Ellie Holcomb, They Might Be Giants, and NEEDTOBREATHE.
For two lead singers I recommend The Arcadian Wild (three, actually), Flannel Graph, and Jenny & Tyler. My album recommendation is Vocal Few’s Tall Trees.
Two lead singers, a folk-meets-indie-meets-CCM style, and catchy tunes!
I was driving back west through the patches of fog
We had the brights turned on and we listened to songs
I didn’t know it then but I was right where I needed to be
You were back at home, you were working a job
And you were hanging out nights with your friends at the bar
You didn’t know it then but you were right where you needed to be
When all you have is what’s inside your pocket
And all your dreams seem stuck on the shelf
Well you best prepare the way for change is comin’
Cuz the road will always take you somewhere else
~ Vocal Few | The Road ~
for Chalice ~
Chalice loves oldies, funky songs, rock, rap, instrumentals, and international music. Her favorite albums are True Believers (Phil Keaggy), Invisible (Leeland), Innovators (Kurt Bestor), Woodlawn (Paul Mills), and Not Me (Glenn Medeiros). She doesn’t prefer country, indie, or lo-fi.
My recommendation is Ben Platt’s Sing to Me Instead!
*content warning: two songs reference gay relationships; one song references an extramarital relationship
I love this album. The songwriting is lovely and tells wonderful stories, Ben’s voice is incredible (he can go low and insanely high and sound good while doing it), and it all fits together very cohesively! Plus the sound is more pop than indie but not obnoxiously electronic.
I was walking down 57th Street towards Park
With the same old song in my same old heart
Making plans I’m gonna do when I get older
Passed a gray-haired man and I found his eyes
It’s like he knew my thoughts and he read my mind
Saying life is gonna find you when it’s supposed to
Felt my feet stop short and I turned my head
Tried to lean into every word he said
~ Ben Platt | Older ~
for Kads ~
Kads likes pop and lo-fi/chill music, including “Black Swan” (BTS), “Bicycle” (RM), “Somewhere Only We Know” (Keane), “Her” (eery), and “Weak” (AJR).
My recommendation is NAMO (self-titled)!
NAMO is a project by siblings Aedan, Asher, and Skye Peterson! (They also have a band called Wake Low.) NAMO is a pop album composed by Asher with lyrics written & sung by Aedan, Skye, and others. The lyrics are very thought-provoking and mysterious (in a good way!) and the songs sound like a lot of pop. (Also, listen to this podcast episode about the inspiration for one of the songs.)
Where we gonna fly to, hard pressed to live the lie
Stealing out the back door, hoping you don’t notice my
Staging is oblivious to the hurt you’ve been sharing with your eyes
So here we go again, let’s give it another try to
Find the faded songs in the roads of the Sunday drives
Oh there’s thunder in a blue sky
~ NAMO | Thunder in a Blue Sky ~
for MJ ~
MJ likes The Arcadian Wild and The National Parks and lately has enjoyed “Too Good” (Jess Ray) and “Turning Out” (AJR), but doesn’t like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and most pop and rock music.
My recommendation for MJ is The Wailin’ Jennys’ Fifteen.
This is a really lovely folk album! It’s a little more traditional and religious in style than much of The Arcadian Wild, and maybe a little out of MJ’s comfort zone, but the songs are so good that I couldn’t resist. (Also, it’s getting increasingly hard to recommend albums I haven’t already mentioned in this post, heh.)
Why weep for me, for I’m anxious to go
To that haven of rest where no tears e’er flow?
And I fear not my fate when it’s time to depart
I will sail with the sun in the old churchyard
I rest in the hope that one bright day
Sunshine will burst through these prisons of clay
And the trumpets will sound on the hills near and far
Will wake up the dead in the old churchyard
~ The Wailin’ Jennys | Old Churchyard ~
for Esmeralda ~
Esmeralda likes musicals, pop, soul, and alternative music. Her top albums of 2021 were Happier Than Ever (Billie Eilish), 30 (Adele), and the In the Heights movie soundtrack, and she doesn’t like rock.
Firstly, since you like pop I’d like to suggest Blue Flower and NAMO (both recommended above), as well as “In the Kitchen” by Reneé Rapp (not an album, just a track, but I really love it). However, my official recommendation is a musical: Six.
*this musical has strong-ish mature content in most songs except “Heart of Stone;” I highly recommend looking up the lyrics before listening!
Six is (roughly) based on the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII, but with generous liberties taken and a lot of joking around. The show itself isn’t particularly edifying (though I still find it enjoyable), but the songs are quite good! “Heart of Stone” (the one without strong content) was inspired by Adele’s music (and each of the other queens’ songs was inspired by a different pop artist).
Soon I’ll have to go
I’ll never see him grow
But I hope my son will know
He’ll never be alone
‘Cause like a river runs dry
And leaves its scars behind
I’ll be by your side
‘Cause my love is set in stone
~ Six the Musical | Heart of Stone ~
And thus concludes my album recommendations! I hope you all enjoyed this and maybe found some new music to enjoy (:
I’ll conclude with a small life update: I’m back at college! I went to a retreat for a program I’m in, and we discussed Right Ho, Jeeves and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy while considering the morality and definition of humor. ‘Twas fascinating. Classes start on Wednesday and I’m excited!
I’m also dealing with some rough stuff emotionally — prayers appreciated. Likely some of it will make it into a blog post at some point (my best writing seems to come from my hardest days, sadly). But for now, I will remember that God knows the end even though I don’t.
for God is good, and by His will / my rage will turn to desperate faith / my bitter soul will find His way
Until next time, friends, listen to some good music and trust the One who gave it to you.
+ maya +