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Love & Affection
Artist: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Label: Northern Records
Length: 11 tracks, 41:39
This album came pretty much out of nowhere. Released last November on Northern Records with little ado. I finally heard about All Things Bright and Beautiful when looking at the bands on the schedule for this year's Cornerstone Festival. A couple mp3s on their webpage got me hooked and a few weeks later here I am reviewing the album.
All Things Bright and Beautiful is a project from Lee Bozeman (of Luxury). The music moves anywhere from sweet and mellow to angst-filled and raucous. The lyrics move anywhere from the apocalypse to sex. Basically, this album is all over the map but I'm pretty sure there's something that connects it all that makes Love & Affection work so well.
The music is nothing short of unique. The strangest moment has to be when a long (and admittedly boring) gospel track turns into a percussion-filled masterpiece on "The Transfiguration Parts I & II" in a song that Radiohead would probably be proud to claim. The upbeat "Attractive and Unattractive" is catchy, yet still quite unique with the role that the piano plays in the song.
"The Dead Sea" begins the album with a slow piano with Bozeman crooning, "I'll come down / Hide myself inside of your skin / Wear, wear this crown / Live the life that you have lived / 'Cos this won't do, not for you." The next several songs deal with the stuff of life, with a Christian trapped in the world, yet trying to please God all the while. This makes a song like "Post-Modern Love" all the more heartbreaking as Bozeman sings, "There is within me a life of pornography" and goes on to say, "I raped her with my mind / Then went home to my loving wife." The laughter at the end of the track reveals the sense of shame buried within before the song segues into "Attractive and Unattractive" which deals with the pressures of popular culture: "Turn to the right it's more attractive / Wear suit and tie, loosen your grip."
The songs that follow deal with similar themes. Near the end of the album Bozeman reveals the spiritual side longing for something more in "Make Me a Blessing." The closing track "Wedding Feast of the Lamb" ties everything together as we see the modern Christian's struggle in a nutshell: "I sleep soundly with my wife / My children never fight, fight, fight, fight / And I wake happy / Wash my body / Being careful to make sure I'm sex-free." The song concludes with the words "She'll tell me her story of sorrow and suffering / She'll tell me it's so sad the way we've been acting / For we are surrounded by thousands of liars / That sing lovely songs in a river of fire / That flows from the hand of the Father."
This is an important, revealing, moving album that speaks in ways that few other album can. Lee Bozeman makes a dangerous move in laying it all out on the table here and has crafted something that will keep me coming back for more years from now.
Trae Cadenhead 6/22/2004