Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pull up a Chair CD & DVD - Nathan Clark George

Makes Me Smile

Pull up a Chair CD & DVD
Artist: Nathan Clark George (www.NathanClarkGeorge.com)
Label: Franklin Springs
CD Length: 14 tracks/47:32 minutes
DVD Length: 1 hour 14 minutes plus a 28:52 minute documentary

Nathan Clark George’s music makes me smile. It reminds me that despite life’s harsh realities, living can be good. Where some artists take pleasure in singing about the worst one can imagine, George relishes singing from a faith perspective that makes this world seem a little less foreboding.

He does so with sincerity and a gentleness that reminds me of John Michael Talbot, Catholic music’s troubadour for the Lord. George could easily be the evangelical equivalent. He and his wife, and their five children, have spent the last 3½ years living out of a mobile home as they travel between concerts. The DVD includes an insightful documentary that shows the challenges and blessings of their time on the road.

This togetherness provides a wealth of material for George’s touching songs on family life. But he also excels at writing songs from Scripture. He recognizes that Psalm-singing is something that has been lost to our generation. He bookends his DVD concert performance with two songs of this type at the beginning and end. George exhibits the same kind of skill as Michael Card in joining Scripture passages with likeable and fluid music.

The sound is basic and acoustic. George alternates between performing solo with his acoustic guitar, and performing with a small backup band. Benjamin George, Nathan’s brother, handles drums and percussion. Ross Sermons plays bass guitars, and Mark Stoffel, a Bebo Norman lookalike, is heard on mandolin, violin and BGVs. The mandolin and violin give some of the songs a slight country and bluegrass feel.

George’s classical and folk influences are evident. Growing up, he was more familiar with artists like Simon & Garfunkel than with contemporary Christian music and modern praise and worship. This background gives him a fresh sound that appeals to all ages. His music never gets heavier than pop or soft rock.

“You Make Me Smile” is a love song for his wife. It doesn’t get much sweeter than this. This and the other songs are a window into his heart. James 3:17 summarizes what I see: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (ESV). Expressing this kind of goodness may be foreign in a culture that calls good bad and bad good. That’s what George, who seems to care little about being cool—other than a few days growth of beard—, does so effortlessly.

The DVD is filmed in High Definition. The production on it and the CD are excellent. The CD includes three strong studio tracks as a bonus. The sound is a little fuller than the other tracks, which are the live performances also found on the DVD.

This is one of those rare releases that can be enjoyed by an entire family.
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