One of my pet theories about creativity is that it comes from the spark of God himself burning in human experience. I can get lost in art—I admit it: I’m weird that way. But I think most people are like me in this way: When art or writing or music is exceptional, it has the power to lift our spirits out of the dank absurdities of life and bring us, if even briefly, into the magnificent presence of God.
Unfortunately, much of popular art fails to touch us in any significant way because it aims low, and fails to even kick up much dust. It fails because so many artists lose their nerve and choose the safe, formulaic approach instead of the risky try for something new. Most popular art is bland: It has no soul and no God-spark.
Sara Groves has the God-spark, in spades.
I have to admit that I’ve become jaded with much of popular music, and especially Christian music. Going to my local Christian bookstore’s music aisle makes me cringe. It isn’t all bad, not by a long shot. But when I’m flipping through CD’s looking for something terrific, I feel a bit like the little boy who was excitedly pawing through a huge pile of manure because he knew there just had to be a pony in there somewhere.
Serendipity. On this trip, I found more than a few ponies.
When I first heard Sara Groves, I thought immediately of Annie Lennox, a singer/songwriter whose voice unleashes so much emotion, it almost hurts to listen to her. Sara Groves has a voice that pierces the heart, and a gift for writing honest, unvarnished lyrics about disappointment and hope, trouble and faith.
She’s a jewel. Groves is one of those creative people through whom you can glimpse God, because she eases her ego out of the way and lets Him create through her. It’s a vessel thing.
Tuxedo in the closet, gold band in a box,
Two days from the altar she went and called the whole thing off.
What he thought he wanted, what he got instead,
Leaves him broken yet grateful.
I passed understanding a long, long time ago,
And the simple home of systems and answers we all know.
What I thought I wanted, what I got instead,
Leaves me broken and somehow peaceful.
I keep wanting you to be fair,
But that’s not what you said.
I want certain answers to these prayers.
But that’s not what you said.
When I get to heaven I wanna go find Job.
I want to ask a few hard questions, I wanna know what he knows,
About what it is he wanted and what he got instead.
How to be broken yet faithful. —What I Thought I Wanted, Sara Groves
Broken, yet faithful. That’s good stuff. I respect people who can admit that God doesn’t always provide the answers we’d like to hear to the questions that bug us. Sara Groves’ music is at times edgy and dissonant, like life. She puts her heart and faith out there, makes herself vulnerable, and seems to say, “Here it is. I’m trying to figure this out. Maybe in my honesty, you’ll see yourself, and you’ll see God at work in the two of us.”
Sara Groves is a young mother and wife, a woman with a sense of humor that comes through in her music, a woman who can’t keep life and family and career in balance without the help of a loving husband and good friends. She is a woman with a gift for writing music about the everyday struggles we all know so well, and how those struggles are integrated into a life of faithfulness to the God who has called us to himself, the God who wants his creative fire to burn in our hearts.
That fire burns in The Other Side of Something.
Thanks for the great review of Sara Groves’ CD. I agree: Her songs are both profound and honest – sometimes painfully so. Our family has all of her CDs, and are looking forward to hearing her latest CD called “Station Wagon: Songs for Parents”.
This CD is, to my mind – bar none – the finest Christian CD out there. Sara’s music is incredibly honest. In a world where so much popular music (both Christian and secular) is prefab and plastic, Sara Groves stands out as one of those artists who keeps it real. This disc goes with me wherever I travel.