Jesus People USA just keeps turning out the music. Seeds is their latest product. The band, formed by "accident" (read "God's Will") for a Chicago area outreach, is made up completely of full-time JPUSA community members. Talk about a lot of talent! Seeds's line-up consists of: Shelly Bock singing lead and harmony vocals and playing steel and nylon string guitar; Colleen Davick singing harmony vocals and playing flute and assorted percussion; Scott Knies singing lead and harmony vocals, playing six and twelve string acoustic guitars, electric guitar, autoharp, lap dulcimer, mandolin, sitar, and assorted percussion; Mike Troxel singing lead and harmony vocals and playing acoustic guitar; and Greg Vaught singing harmony vocals and playing electric bass, acoustic guitar, and gong. They deserve a lot of respect. For everyone who puts together their own music, there are hundreds who only dream of it and fewer still that even try. Seeds not only tries, they have put together a really interesting first project.
As you can tell by the line-up, Seeds has a very eclectic sound. It reminds me of the early seventies (as does the members's dress and the artwork of the album). Whenever I pop this in, I get flashbacks of flower children in Haight-Ashbury, Janis Joplin live, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Jefferson Airplane acoustic sets, and Keith Green music ministries. The overall sound is very retro and very cool. It is mellow, relaxing, and soothing. The vocals wash over and bring a sense of peace. The music itself varies from light acoustic a la Caedmon's Call to psychedelic. The flute, autoharp, lap dulcimer, mandolin, and sitar (all very 70ish in their use), really spice up the sound and give it a nice tang. Since the retro 70's sound is really making a big comeback, Seeds will be a welcome addition to the club.
Seeds's lyrics are all very explicitly God or Christian centered. Whether it is God's call to return to Him in "Come Back Home," His promise to return again in "Man of Peace," or our plea to Him for salvation in "Come to My Rescue," every song invites us to respond to God's call in one way or another. The closing song, "His Love Endures," sounds a lot like Caedmon's Call and is a beautiful reminder that His love does endure forever. It is very fitting as the last song.
He can take away all pain
Though you lose the whole world
You've got your soul to gain
God has seen you (Setting on the far horizon)
All along (Lifted up to the heavens)
God is with you (His love endures forever)
I was sailing along the ocean
When a storm approached my boat
Without warning, like a lion roaring
With its only purpose
Oh, surrender yourself wholeheartedly
A lot of people may find this too 70ish -- too much of a reminder of those wild days and the drug culture -- and probably won't like it. Those who are into that retro 70's sound will probably really enjoy Seeds.
By Mark Aylor
The music of the late 60's/early 70's happens to be my favorite periods, so I'm always in favor of an outfit that draws on that time for inspiration. Seeds takes a bit of the pseudo-magical hippie folk sound and adds heavy doses of contemporary acoustic worship and Celtic leanings. The five members are full of talent, sharing the song-writing, lead and harmony vocals, and tons of instruments from steel and nylon, six and twelve-string, acoustic and electric guitars to flute, autoharp, lap dulcimer, mandolin, sitar, gong, and assorted percussion. If that sounds cluttered, be assured it's not. Several of the songs have a real celebratory, family atmosphere, with clapping and cheering in the background. A dozen more musicians spice up the songs with even more instrumentation, from harmonica to strings to didgeridoo (members of The Crossing included). Production is sparkling clean and pristine, so that each instrument and voice shines in the mix. Male and female vocals alternate singing lyrics full of poetic awe and longing for the Master. Most of the songs are not really that memorable, but "The Road" stands a head above the others and is far and away my favorite tune, with its sad tone describing the picking up of spiritually lost hitchhiker kids. It could have been lifted from The Crossing's Dancing at the Crossroads. There's a whole lot of room for improvement from these guys, and I still prefer original 60's/70's folkie stuff (and even similar Christian act Rich Young Ruler) to this, but this album is good background music for a warm and lazy Saturday afternoon while reading a book or just sitting on the porch surveying God's creation.
By Josh Spencer
The spirit of their Jesus Movement heritage contributes a great deal to Seeds, a group of young Jesus People USA community members who just released their first recording. A collection of modern folk ballads and worship music, the acoustic instrumentation and tight harmonies have a warm, homemade vibe. The easy give-and-take makes it obvious this band of friends has been making music together a long time. The project benefits from the improved production values evident on all recent recordings coming out on the community label, Grrr Records. It is fashionable now to claim early seventies Christian musicians like Keith Green and John Michael Talbot as influences, but Seeds's commitment to a communal lifestyle in a scary urban neighborhood authenticates the message of this professional quality recording.
By Linda T. Stonehocker