'I'm not a religious man, but I can understand religion...'
Andrew Choi, (St. Lenox's), latest album, Ten Songs of Worship and Praise for our Tumultuous Times is the kind of deeply satisfying personal statement that gives you faith that music will continue to have something to say, no matter what, if you ever doubted it.
It's a fabulously nuanced record. One to dive into and listen to in its entirity, then wind back and listen to again. Owing as much in some ways to the Springsteen and The Band tradition as it does to the more obviously apparent DIY Half Japanese and Sufjan Stevens one, Choi is fabulously engaging company and clearly has plenty to say. Mostly it seems about the constant search for reasons to believe and the urgent need for us all to do so. Particularly now.
Each song presents itself as a short parable of American smalltown life. Choi sets up his stall and unfurls his gloriously ambitious narrative, half spoken, half sung over a shifting, musical backdraft predicated, by glorious, swirling organ. It a wonderful, on occasion almost an overwhelming experience.
The record does have a spiritual , yearning quality, as suggested by its cover. This may not be of a particular demoninational type. Choi's and this record's innate, devotional quality, seem to be fuelled as much by joy of being alive as any particularly, specific religious inspiration. Although there are certain specific references indicating he had a christian upbringing, it's all deeply moving, regardless of whether or not you have a particular personal faith of your own.
Still, whatever it is that fuels the St. Lenox fire, I'm a committed fan now. He's clearly a very good and very gifted man. I fell for this record utterly on first listen, it's one of the most individualised and fascinating albums I've heard this year and I'll be back again and again over future weeks and months to drink from its font. Fabulous, fabulous record! Praise your lord of choice.