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JFH Indie Review

JFH Indie Music Spotlight Review

Various Artists

Various Artists
All the Wrecked Light

Street Date: April 12, 2022
Style: Singer - Songwriter / Pop
Official Site: Official Website
Buy It: iTunes
Buy It: AmazonMP3



Hannah Hubin is a writer, poet, and lyricist from Nashville. Hubin regularly writes for The Rabbit Room, The Story Warren, and Brown Brink Eastward. However, after four years of intently reading and praying through Psalm 90 -- along with nine months of talking with pastors, theologians, professors and the like -- Hubin penned a concept album to be used in a live concert in the spring of 2021. Hubin worked with seven different artists to make this project a reality, including Cardiff State, Carousel Rogues, Dennis Parker, Justin Schumacher, Wild Harbors, Ella Mine, and St. Dawn in Slumber. While the album has a central theme based in Psalm 90, and a similar feel musically throughout, the different artists and vocalist give it the feel of a compilation album. Hubin calls All the Wrecked Light a cohesive progression of original songs that moves from Ash Wednesday through Easter.

All the Wrecked Light starts off with a reading of Psalm 90 set to background music and, from there, starts to systematically work its way through the Psalm. Musically, the album stays mellow. Lots of acoustic guitars, strings, and piano throughout. There's also drums and some tastefully placed electric guitar -- the electric guitar in "Dismayed + Light (Jodi)" is perfect -- as well. Despite the various artists, the work feels like a cohesive singer/songwriter project from one group. Dispersed throughout are also some interlude/instrumental pieces. Something like "Kingdom of Dry Grass" is an interlude with some spoken word, but musically it picks up notes of "Jodi" while played on strings. These moments are both beautiful and fittings breaks in the narrative.

Lyrically, the album is obviously scripture-based as each song is a dissection of Psalm 90. However, these feel like real songs instead of a word-for-word reading of scripture. It's another thing that sets this album apart from similar concepts. For instance, "Wrath: Take One" (picking up at Psalm 90:7) has Caitlin Anselmo of Carousel Rogues singing "All this liturgy is a thin defense of artistry. Our best organization of the damnation of the time. Blood and wine just remind the soul and mind that everything sacred leaves a stain. Starting Sunday night, we hide in carousels and wishing wells." There are several other highlights along the way. My personal favorite song has to be "Dream + Fade (Vanity)" with Wild Harbors. Ella Mine's smoky vocals absolutely steal the show when she is featured -- especially in "Dust," "Return" and "Morning." As for the men involved, Dennis Parker has a southern drawl that works perfectly in his songs, Cardiff State adds some lighter/airy sounds to the project, but Justin Schumacher is my favorite appearance.

This concept is executed exceptionally well. Hubin knew the sound she wanted for her songs and vision and then brought the right group of artists on board to help carry it out. This would be an ambitious undertaking for a single artist to pull off, but Hubin was able to do it while working with seven other artists. There isn't a bad entry on this album, and it doesn't feel like a 55-minute listen. Hannah Hubin's four-plus years of work on this project paid off in a big way. It's such an impressive album musically and vocally and provides a deep dive lyrically. I would highly recommend anyone giving this album a few listen-throughs to soak everything in fully. I know I plan to continue listening and finding new things to love about All the Wrecked Light.

- Review date: 6/3/22, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com



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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

    Projects that pull together various artists can be either very ambitious or plain attempts at a cash grab. All the Wrecked Light is certainly in the former camp. Pulling together seven different indie artists (including Wild Harbors, Ella Mine, and Cardiff State) to provide music for lyrics written by Hannah Hubin, this record is a poetic walk through Psalm 90. Hubin spent months meeting with various pastors and scholars, along with praying through and reading the psalm, in order to craft the words that make up this album. Eventually, the 16 tracks were performed live, then, after a successful Kickstarter campaign, the songs were recorded.

Given the ambitious scope of this project, being an actual concept album, one challenge is nailing a consistent tone among the different artists. For the most part, this is achieved with quiet arrangements and the occasional pop or folk rock track. You can definitely see each artist's fingerprints on the song they're covering. The main challenge is taking pre-written lyrics and pairing them with music in a way that makes sense. Sometimes this works (like in "Dwelling"), sometimes it doesn't (like in "Wrath: Take One"). The artists are clearly doing their best, but there are times when their music feels hampered by the constraints of the lyrical structure.

The lyrics themselves are very poetic, at times maybe too poetic. It's also not always clear how the words correlate to the psalm (like with "Dismayed + Light" being about a marriage on the rocks). In order to appreciate All the Wrecked Light, you really need to sit down with the lyrics and Psalm 90 in order to follow the different nuances of what's going on. For this reviewer, the record was charming but confusing. Somehow all the parts don't feel like they're working together. That may be partially on the execution of the album, but that may also be my brain not working hard enough when listening along. Still, an ambitious project like this is worth consideration and will likely grow on the listener over time. - Review date: 5/26/22, written by John Underdown of Jesusfreakhideout.com

 

 

JFH Indie Spotlight Review

 

. Record Label: None
. Album length: 16 tracks: 55 minutes
. Street Date: April 12, 2022
. Buy It: iTunes
. Download It: AmazonMP3

  1. Psalm 90 - Hannah Hubin, Ivan Nekrasov & Caitlin Anselmo (3:09)
  2. Dwelling - Dennis Parker & Hannah Hubin (3:45)
  3. Formed - Hannah Hubin & Cardiff State (3:14)
  4. Dust - Hannah Hubin & Ella M (5:34)
  5. Thousand - Saint Dawn (4:24)
  6. Dream + Fades (Vanity) - Hannah Hubin & Wild Harbors (3:21)
  7. Dismayed + Light (Jodi) - Justin Schumacher & Hannah Hubin (5:03)
  8. Kingdom of Dry Grass - Hannah Hubin & Caitlin Anselmo (1:36)
  9. Wrath: Take One - Hannah Hubin & Carousel Rogues (3:50)
  10. Years (Shifting Sand) - Hannah Hubin & Wild Harbors (4:15)
  11. Wrath: Take Two - Caitlin Anselmo (2:28)
  12. Perpetual Star/Days - Hannah Hubin & Ella M (2:09)
  13. Return - Hannah Hubin & Ella M (3:30)
  14. Morning - Hannah Hubin & Ella M (2:36)
  15. Rejoice - Hannah Hubin & Cardiff State (3:57)
  16. Glorious + Establish (Going Home) - Dennis Parker & Hannah Hubin (2:10)
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  • Jesus Freak Hideout (Michael Weaver): You spent a long time reading and praying through Psalms 90. At what point in this venture did you decide that you wanted to write a concept album?

    Hannah Hubin: It was actually a glorified homework assignment. For my capstone project for undergrad, I could either write a thesis, do an internship, or take on a project. I loved the medium idea of a collaboration with musicians, and given the time I had already spent in Psalm 90, it seemed like a great foundation to build on. I never planned on an album though; I just wanted a live, one-night production over holy week - something to move my community through Lent to Easter in a creative way. After that first performance, Caitlin Anselmo stepped up with a vision to produce the evening as an album.

  • JFH (Michael): I know you're a writer and a poet, but had you ever written in the format of a song before this?

    Hannah: A few times. Growing up in Nashville, I live in a community of musicians. I had done some lyric work with friends earlier in college - folks I still love collaborating with. But only a handful of songs.

  • JFH (Michael): What does the album title -- All the Wrecked Light -- mean in relation to Psalm 90?

    Hannah: "All the wrecked light" is a line from Cardiff State's second song and the penultimate track of the album:

    "and i'll tell old stories of all the wrecked light/the memory just like a crack/in the walk on a saturday night/and the breath come to dusty bones/and i'll tell of how a world on loan/was made into a footstool to a throne"

    The story of the album is both the story of the created light of Genesis being "wrecked" in the fall and the Light himself - Christ himself - being wrecked on Good Friday. Cue John 1:1-5: "All things were made through him," and in Scripture we see both all things and him meeting death and destruction. On the other side of the resurrection, though, in the new creation, both wreckages are "old stories" we tell of what is real but past, for ours is the resurrected Lord and the resurrected world. When the Psalmist writes, "Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil" (verse 15 - the verse that inspires Cardiff State's song), he's both looking back to all the wreckage of the earlier verses and forward to that hope of restoration. I think that's how we live most of our days too.

  • JFH (Michael): How do you go about deciding on and gathering this group of seven artists to see out your vision for this concept?

    Hannah: A wing and a couple hundred prayers. I knew Ella and Isaac Horn and Justin Schumacher personally. The other folks I reached out to via FB messenger or email, explaining the project, sharing the lyric draft, and trying my best to describe the vision. Collaboration cannot mean control, and I knew that when I started, and I know it better now. I had no recipe for what these songs should be - just lyrics and a general genre in mind for each song pairing. It was an invitation for artists to take what I had begun and make it their own, and I started sending that invitation out to musicians I respect. They were all people who work to understand poetry, so I knew they'd try to be true to the lyrical intent; they were also all people who love Scripture, so I knew they'd try to be true to the purpose as well. These seven artists were a combination of crazy enough and kind enough to jump on board.

  • JFH (Michael): My favorite song is "Dream + Fades (Vanity)" featuring Wild Harbors. Can you talk about this song and the tie in with Ecclesiastes chapter 1?

    Hannah: In many ways, I think Moses in Psalm 90 is doing in 17 verses what the Preacher of Ecclesiastes takes 12 chapters to write. "Dream + Fades (Vanity)" covers verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 90, which I think make the correlation clearest: "You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers." Both Moses and the Preacher recognize the brevity of life here on earth after the fall; everything ends, everyone dies, all is vanity. It's no prosperity Gospel or southern-sugared Christianity. So when Wild Harbors sings, "all i've made and saved/is taken with the tide/all i've made and prayed /is taken with the tide," we think of Psalm 90's sweeping flood, and we might think of Ecclesiastes 1: "All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again." When they sing, "vanity of vanities/i thought it was a scarlet queen/vanity of vanities/but it's the preacher in the street/vanity of vanities/the preacher's crying in the street/vanity of vanities/is this what holy men believe?" we're back at Ecclesiastes 1 again, and it's unnerving. We don't expect that sort of seeming-despair from Scripture - from a preacher caring for his flock. But when the song ends with the seeming-vanity of the crucifixion ("i staked it all upon a man/staked upon a cross"), we remember that our Lord himself experienced the brevity of life, the sweeping of the flood. At the same time, we know even before we move to the next song that the man "staked upon a cross" isn't going to stay there. It's the resurrection that leads us to rethink the vanity of his life and ours, and this track is beginning to hint at the way Easter light casts back through Psalm 90 to Ecclesiastes and our own withering blade of grass.

  • JFH (Michael): My favorite overall discovery of this album was Ella Mine. I was completely unfamiliar with her previously, but her voice is absolutely incredible. She has the biggest overall contribution with four songs. What caused you to lean on her a little bit more?

    Hannah: I've known Ella as a close friend since junior high, and she was the first musician to jump on board this project. Even though her last three songs are divided, they really have the sense of being one movement, and more so in the live performance. I was confident Ella would catch the vision for how these pieces work together and communicate with each other to the listener. I also knew this set of songs needed a voice that could capture a tremendous range of emotion: grief, despair, anger, doubt, anticipation, and hope. I knew Ella's craftsmanship would be masterful here, but more significantly, after nine or so years of life with her, I trusted her own heart and faith to breathe true depth into these songs.

  • JFH (Michael): I'm very curious as to how much autonomy the artists had with lyrics. I'm guessing they were writing songs around your lyrics. Sometimes the musical flow will dictate a different lyric. Were they able to make any necessary changes, or was that something you handled as well? The album is so cohesive sounding that I know there must've been a lot of solid teamwork.

    Hannah: That's encouraging to hear! Honestly, it was astounding how few changes to the lyric draft we made. I know we added or subtracted a few syllables here and there in most songs. I think we added two or three lines to one of Wild Harbor's songs, and we rearranged sections of Carousel Rogues' lyrical piece. I stayed in touch with the artists as they were working, and they all very kindly bounced even the smallest edits off me, just to make sure we weren't making any significant shifts to content. All of the musicians working on this project are incredibly creative, and they took on the challenge of making a song out of my lines with tremendous grace and ingenuity. They weren't intimidated by atypical lyric formats. And honestly, I attribute a lot of the cohesion of the collaboration to prayer. I was asking folks from every circle of my life to be praying for unity for the artists and project while it was in process.

  • JFH (Michael): This would've been a difficult thing to pull off for a single artist, but you did an excellent job of it while working with seven other artists. You spent a lot of time in prayer and in study and did something out of your norm. What did God teach you through this entire experience?

    Hannah: This finishes the thought I began above - about folks praying the project into completion. I knew going into it that I was beginning something I couldn't finish, simply by nature of not being a musician. Seeing fourteen research assistants and seven artists step up and breathe life (in that same image of the creating Lord) into this project was a massive testament to the body of Christ as Paul talks of it-making and being made, all in the image of God, all needing each other and each other's work. By the time we made it to the first live performance, I had about 50 folks to thank for pulling it off, and I was already feeling like I was part of something I barely started and certainly wasn't finishing; I was on the edge, watching. The album project brought in another 20 artists. Even that doesn't include the 307 Kickstarter supporters without whom we would never have been able to record the album. That means this album is a collaboration among nearly 400 folks - plus countless others who prayed through the two years of work. It may be an exposition of Psalm 90, but it also might just be the greatest image of the body of Christ I've had in my life. I've had the opportunity to lean into the design of God's church in a way I hadn't before, and that's changed me.

     

     

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