Where personal thought meets moment by moment happenings, this is exactly where Bebo Norman's latest project meets our souls. His rich, acoustically driven, contemporary folk sound stems from his measurement of life within moments.
Norman, a former biology major, chose to take a year off before beginning medical school. One year has changed to three and growing. During this time, he has toured with Caedmon's Call, released an independent project, signed with Watershed Records, and his latest project, Ten Thousand Days, is soon to be released. Obviously, these past couple of years have been about musical growth.
Having twelve tunes, Ten Thousand Days is packed with a long register of songs. The majority of them are slower, folksy tunes lead by an acoustic guitar. However, two of these songs, "Stand" and "The Man Inside," stand out from this mold. Their melodies are quite a bit more bouncy and other instruments, such as the drums and the piano, take a more president role.
Norman consistently chooses themes of hope, healing, and holiness. This is found through moments in his life as well as moments in his family and friends lives. One example listeners are bound to notice, "A Page is Turned," was written for his brother's wedding.
And the God of second chance
Images found within nature also run throughout Ten Thousand Days. Norman uses the familiar beauty of nature to relay his thoughts and spiritual feelings of God, and "Walk Down This Mountain," is an example:
So walk down this mountain with your heart held high
If contemporary folk music is what you are looking for, look no further. While the project sounds similar in many sections, Bebo Norman has skillfully put together a project worthy of your time and ear.
Cathy Courtwright 9/5/99
Bebo Norman has a warm voice. It's as clear as your next door neighbor. Listening to him could also be likened to talking to your neighbor. His voice sounds a bit like Chris Rice, and his entire album is mostly just him and his guitar at the tempo of Phil Keaggy's "Beyond Nature". In concert, he even seems like your next-door neighbor. He is approachable--at one of his concerts he walked up to me and told me he liked my beard. He is a nice guy and there are too few of those in the world.
All types of music, some more than others, conjure images in the mind. The sound of Norman's simple rhythm, moaning steel guitar and one song's washboard brings to mind an early fall sunrise on a porch in some dewy rose garden in the Carolinas--Norman's home. His music seems to be influenced more by southern gentility than rowdy rebellion, yet that doesn't rob him of the edge in his voice -- he's certainly more skilled folk than soft rock.
His opening song, "Walk Down This Mountain," is the fastest paced and has a definite rock hook to it--more of one than the rest of the album. If only the rest could have snagged me with that hook. As it is, the next 11 songs diminish to a virtual hush, with few of the catchy dynamics in the first song.
On the bright side, docile and relaxing music is still an important genre, especially when it contains as meaningful lyrics as this album. His lyrics have a healing quality and an authenticity uncommon in this kind of folk music. His voice has a healing, melancholy and often tearful quality to it. In fact, one of his songs is appropriately called "Healing Song," touching each of us in those times in our lives when we are depressed and emotionally fragile.
Emotionally painful experiences are not best musically represented by aggressive musical styles like rock 'n' roll. Norman's topics, from surrender to God, to a wedding day, to death, are best represented in the ballad forms he uses. One particular heart-wrenching song, "Rita" is about the death of a friend. It is a beautiful and haunting eulogy that can spread chills through the empathetic listener who has lost a love one. The lyrics speak for themselves.
Your broken body cannot weather the years your youth longs to spendThis album is for the fan of quiet, contemplative, Phil Keaggy-tempo-meets-Chris-Rice-vocals music. It isn't for everyone, but it is an album that needed to be produced in the folk genre, and it shows Norman has skill and promise in his particular genre.
Israel Kloss 1/11/2000