Rarely does an album come along that makes me scream it's praises to everyone I come across, but this album touched me in such a way that made not recommending it to everyone just seem wrong. However, I found when I showed this album, no one I showed it to thought it was that great..... which left me, to be honest, quite frustrated. Not one person liked it. So, after a few years of listening to this beauty over and over again, and mulling over the reasons I love it so much, I have finally come here, to Vocal, to defend my obsession with this grand piece of art.
I am a Christian, was raised listening to the Beatles, Beach Boys, Michael W. Smith, Laura Story, Andrew Peterson, Four Tops, Dion, John Denver, and more artists that fit into the realm of oldies/contemporary Christian. The message, which my parents were most definitely not trying to drill into me, left me believing that there was a clear divide between the secular and the Christian life. Focuses were different on either side of this imaginary wall, and as a child, I never thought to question it. 'Seculars' were clearly all obsessed with romantic relationships, and Christians were obsessed with worshiping God. Clearly, this is a problem considering that this wall does not exist at all. And I have found that too often this wall has become an invention on the Christian side to not stop and consider the Secular side. I don't think it's intentional by any means in most cases, however, it is a coping mechanism that really needs to be addressed and challenged in the Christian realm. Anyways, this whole problem should probably be addressed in an entirely different article..... ONWARD TO THE MUSIC!!!!!
"Shallow Bed" is just the album needed for Christians to really start to consider this wall that they have put up between themselves and 'Seculars'. I have no idea who the lyricist was for this album or for its individual tracks, but they are genius. "Shallow Bed" uses biblical references to paint what many Christians would consider 'Secular' stories/images. It breaks down this imaginary wall of difference, and the blend of haunting biblical references is true to the contexts used in the bible, which shows again the genius of this album. In other words, one can not simply listen to it and shrug it off as cherry picked verses/images being contorted. No. These biblical images are being well used, and deliver a much fuller understanding to the original texts and the tensions and pain seen there than most Christians would have originally given to these texts. By placing them not only in the here and now, but also outside of Christianity itself, these songs challenge the Christian thinker to re-evaluate their understanding of these texts. They are challenged to rethink their relations and understandings of "worldly" problems. They are forced to see just how similar they are in their brokenness to the admitted brokenness of humanity in a 'Secular' world as well. The wall suddenly seems a lot harder to keep up after internalizing the lyrics of this album.
On top of the lyrics being genius, musically this album is quite simply beautiful. I have listened to the album on repeat for a few years now. The harshness of the drums and guitar clashing with sweeping horns and strings make for one of the most interesting sound experiences I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of. And to top it all off, talk about the raw intensity and somehow gentleness of Peter Liddle's voice. It really doesn't get much better than this album in my opinion. Now, is the point of this album, or the message of this album specifically geared towards breaking down this wall....no, of course not. I am not claiming that this album is in any way Christian, but to me, that is the point, and that is the reason Christians should take a listen to it. Christians, go listen to this album, consider the texts, bring life back into stories that we too often read as dead and distant, and begin to challenge yourself to find a better way to relate to this world that God has given us. We are all his children, and each of us deserves to be treated as such. It was a gift given, not a prize earned, let's treat it as such and stop putting up walls. Let's break them down, love each other, enjoy some good music, drink some cold lemonade and come together.