Some of the most impactful and sincere music is born out of tragedy and heartache. For frontman of The Listening (formerly Rock N Roll Worship Circus), Gabriel Wilson, this is truth. During one of the toughest seasons in his life, Wilson picked up a guitar and penned some simple and blatantly honest acoustic songs that became outlets for a wounded heart.
Lovely Is Death is a sensitive, transparent, and soul-bearing album that centers around love lost. Opening with a mere acoustic and Wilson's soft and weary vocals, "Burning Like Cigarettes" is a sentimental song that equates running through memories with the fleeting life of a lit cigarette. At times, like with the album opener, Wilson carries a hint of Beck's more subtle work and touches on the likes of Bob Dylan on tracks like "Old Record" (which struggles to fit amongst the more subdued tracks that make up the core of the album). "G-thing" bears a bit of classic upbeat Worship Circus flavor in sort of a love song fashion before moving into the heartbreaking title track, a soft folk album highlight about love, loss, and sacrifice. "Isn't She...?" is a beautiful and poetic acoustic romantic ballad which is contrasted by the slightly bitter "Who My Friends Are." The latter addresses quite realistically the hypocrisy of the church when Wilson fell on the kind of hard times that test the more meaningful people in your life. Wilson proceeds to list some of his closest friends by name and how they helped him, and listeners familiar with his current band The Listening will recognize their names among the lyrics. The track resolves with Gabriel acknowledging Jesus as his ultimate source of hope and redemption even when others failed him. "If You Don't Know Where It Is You've Gone" closes the EP (tracks "Fight with You" and "Do you think of Me?" were dropped from the final product at the last minute for different reasons), a simple yet meaningful way to end the album. The track originally appeared on the bonus disc of The Listening LP from 2005 but fits in perfectly with the mood of Lovely Is Death.
While Lovely Is Death may have some upbeat moments, it's aptly titled indeed. A sad and emotional journey through a tragic point in a songwriter's life, the honesty and authentic nature of Lovely Is Death brings out a beauty from the dispair. A wonderful record representing an array of feelings, Lovely Is Death is an acoustic gem.- Review date: 1/12/07, written by John DiBiase
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