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The first great album of 2017?

Something remarkable happens when a writer with a golden voice and a gift for lyrics falls head over heels in love.

2016 brought us Radiohead’s most sumptuously beautiful album, A Moon Shaped Pool — but those songs bled from wounds of disillusionment, filling deep wells of sadness. As I read the daily headlines about President Bannon’s forceful takeover of the White House and his slow-motion ruination of American democracy, mournful music is appropriate, but I need to remember love and joy as well.

Lo and behold: 2017 brings us Elbow‘s most sumptuously beautiful album! And it’s inspired by new love, new dreams, new hopes, launching melodies as graceful as flights of birds.

Slowly becoming one of the world’s most beloved bands, led by Guy Garvey’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Peter Gabriel, Elbow are lifting my spirits during hard times with lyrics like these from a hectic commute:

The silence and the waiting and the rush of all aboard

Fifty souls to a carriage I’m trying hard to be ignored

Then my telephone shakes into life and I see your name

And the wheat fields explode into gold either side of the train.

In these days that can so easily be overrun by news of crimes against humanity, I’ll gladly embrace any music that reminds of the ultimate triumph of love. Here, Garvey calls love “the original miracle.” While he is clearly referring to the true love of a new woman in his life, who’s to stop me from taking comfort in the knowledge that all loves are expressions of that sovereign love that reconciles all things and promises us that our tears will, in time, be washed away?

Elbow. Photo: Andy Whitton

Elbow. Photo: Andy Whitton

This record’s rapture rekindles my assurance of things hoped for, my conviction of things not seen, and my love for my wife, my art, my neighbor, my Lord. Right now, it does a body good.

Elbow Little Fictions

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1 Comment

  1. Brian Moss
    February 6, 2017 at 10:22 pm — Reply

    I’ve listened to this record probably a dozen times already in the last week. It has been a long time since I’ve been surprised by music. I don’t love everything about it, but everything about it makes me want to keep listening.

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Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet

Novelist and critic Jeffrey Overstreet teaches writing (Seattle Pacific University) and film studies (Northwest University and Houston Baptist University). He's written a memoir of moviegoing and faith (Through a Screen Darkly, Baker, 2007) and a fantasy series that begins with Auralia's Colors (The Auralia Thread, Random House, 2007-11). He's worked since 2001 as a film critic and columnist at Christianity Today, and he's been a regular contributor to Image, Paste, and Christ & Pop Culture. His writing has been recognized by The New Yorker and The Seattle Times. He regularly speaks at universities, conferences, and churches in the U.S. and abroad. Want to invite him to teach or speak? Email joverstreet@gmail.com.