Friday, January 16, 2009

Acoustic Storytime (Live Songs and Stories) - Jason Gray

Refreshing transparency and humor in song and story

Acoustic Storytime (Live Songs and Stories)
Artist: Jason Gray (www.jasongraymusic.com)
Label: Centricity Music
Length: 22 tracks/77:43 minutes

Acoustic Storytime by Jason Gray reminds me of the early days of Christian music. From the stage, artists shared not only songs but also their lives and stories. Real ministry took place between the set list as performers spoke honestly and intimately about their relationship with God. Back then, much of it aimed at evangelism, encouraging non-Christians to receive Jesus Christ.

On Acoustic Storytime the live songs, studio cuts and stories serve to encourage and build-up Christians. But even non-Christians will appreciate the transparency and humor found here. The songcraft and musicianship are also excellent. Everything fits together seamlessly.

What makes this unique is Gray’s perspective on weakness, brokenness and loss. He makes it all seem like gain as he talks about his speech impediment and God’s dealings in his life. He embodies and promotes the idea that “God’s strength is best seen in our weakness.”

The stories are funny and make a point without being preachy. The most hilarious is about a woman that prayed for Gray’s healing after a concert. The respectful way that he tells it says a lot about his character.

Gray reveals his whimsical side on the love song, “If I Were A Dog.” Here he imagines the benefits of being a canine in the presence of the object of his affection. Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” reinforces the sentiment expressed on “Not Going Down,” a song about standing your ground. I can’t imagine anyone listening to this CD and not being encouraged.

A radio remix of “Everything I Own,” from All the Lovely Losers, his debut recording, is included as a bonus track. All the other songs, whether recorded live or in the studio, are just Jason and his guitar and occasional electronic enhancement. This song has other instruments, but what makes it so powerful is its expression of such a holy desire. It makes me think of Job. When he saw the holiness of God, he repented in dust and ashes. What would I give to be pure in heart? Gray answers, “I would give everything that I own.” He reminds us that life is more than passions, accomplishments and possessions.

As I listened to Gray’s dialogue, I couldn’t help wondering if this happens much today. Just when I might be tempted to think that singer/songwriter’s sharing their music and lives are disappearing, along comes Jason Gray with his wonderfully refreshing take on weakness.

Count me as one of the lovely losers and a new fan.
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