My preference is for heavier, faster stuff than this so I would never have gone to a store looking for this type of music. When looking for a new (to me) band, I tend to get recommendations from friends who have similar musical tastes. None of my friends would have turned me on to Glass Harp. That having been said, I love this CD and feel privileged to have heard it.
I didn’t have the slightest idea what to expect when I popped it into the CD player. Shortly after about the third song, I was searching the Internet looking for more information on this wonderful band. How come I hadn’t heard them before? How come they weren’t HUGE? To simplify the existence of this band, they were on the edge of making it big in the early ’70′s. Then Phil Keaggy found God and didn’t feel that he could continue in the direction he had been going. He left to become one of the premier guitarists in the Contemporary Christian Music scene. Sporadically, they’ve reunited and played a show or two but this is their first album in 30 years.
The song arrangements are loose, yet don’t distract from the flow of any particular song. The loose arrangement gives the band plenty of room to “move” within each song. If the melodies and vocal harmonies weren’t so tight, it might actually come across as scattered. The frequent instrumental breaks (that are apparently a live staple of the band) and time-changes could seem too fractal zed. However, the basic rhythm of each song as well as the vocal harmonies brings every song back together brilliantly.
It sounds very much like they went into the studio with a basic rhythm and lyrics written with a producer who stood back and let them work their own brand of magic on the songs. Each song has a “jam” section where guitarist, Phil Keaggy gets to flex his muscles. His jams and soloing are strong and extremely tight. More brilliant work you would be hard pressed to find. The rest of the music is just as strong if not quite as prominent. What REALLY makes this a special album is how well the harmonized vocals fit into each song, though. The way they sing really brings out the music.
I’ve never been afraid of “music with a message,” so the Christian-sentiment lyrics are not off-putting for me. Unlike some CCM where God is every third word and the songs are overly preachy, the message of the music doesn’t detract at all from the strength of the songs and the wonderful music. Like most of Amy Grant’s Christian music, most of the lyrics can be taken in the “praise God” way or in the “Love Song” way. I love lyrics like that. Certain songs, such as “My Prayer” and “Voice of God Call Out” are obviously meant in the “praise God” way. However songs like “I Love All Life” and “What’s In Your Heart” could easily be a “love song” written about a woman OR (which is more likely) a “praise God” type song.
Glass Harp has gained a new fan and I hope they soon come to New England so I can see this band live.