It is my present happiness to inform you that today, the Twenty-seventh day of May in the year of our Lord, this Two Thousand and Fourteenth, my first studio recording as a solo artist is now set free upon the general public. It is titled Neon Steeple and I have strong feelings similar in character and tone to the emotional state of wanting, or wishing, that this collection of songs becomes meaningful to you. It is redundant to say, given the aforementioned announcement regarding the solo nature of this brand-new offering, that this is the most personal collection of material I have offered to date. As you may or may not know, since the conclusion of The David Crowder*Band I have relocated my physical person, geographically, to the state of Georgia. Atlanta, to be specific. The ATL. Durty South. City of Crunkness. Hotlanta. Peace up, A-town down. Represent. My wife Toni and I currently reside in an old cotton mill situated in a neighborhood known as Cabbagetown. It is a magical place. A real-live, genuine (long vowel "i" type "genuine") hood of neighbors -- the type of neighborhood that started disappearing around the time combustion motor transport was invented. It is close to the variety captured in old moving pictures where everybody knows everybody and when folks meet on the sidewalk it is less than polite to just offer a standard, "hello," in passing, as the expectation for a more thorough call and response insists a person stop and engage in mutual inquiries, such as, "Andy Williams, how are you?" knowing good and well that Andy Williams (real live neighbor name) will always answer, "Fantastic, I reckon. No one's told me no different so I'm going with that," which is followed by three short bursts of a laugh from his nose before announcing more truthful and current information often too intimate and vulnerable for the inherent brevity of a sidewalk meeting -- "David, I'll tell ya, the dog got up into some mess of a trash last night, I reckon. Poor thing just got all manner of gassy this morning, OK, I guarantee. Never have I…"
Now, please hear me, I write with the utmost sincerity, it was, indeed, a heck of a thing to depart our fine Republic of Texas; a land that had borne the entirety of our lives and that special part of the earth's surface our kinfolk still reside upon. Yep, a heck of a thing to up and leave a church we had helped start with a few dear friends, a church we had called home for sixteen or so years. This place from which this music had been born that somehow joined you and I. Home is an arresting idea. It is not coincidental that Neon Steeple, the collection of sound recordings previously mentioned, carries just such an idea. It is also not coincidental that the displacement from and longing for home is an oft explored and well developed theme in all manner of transcendent endeavors of literature, and drama, and painting, and architecture, and, of course, to a tremendous extent, the Holy Scriptures. Paradise - Exile - Promised Land. Creation - Fall - Redemption. "Orientation - Disorientation - Reorientation," as Walter Brueggemann put it. Or, "Equilibrium - Tension - Resolution," as I just heard it described today by my Scottish friend Jeremy Begbie. The longing for belonging is a mighty powerful thing.
I was sitting in the front of a tour bus, in the, "jump seat," right next to the driver watching the white lines of the interstate stop reflecting the light of the headlamps and start reflecting the light of the sunshine. You'll find me there most mornings. It was the last tour of The David Crowder*Band and I had no idea what was coming next. I just knew there was a period, a full stop, at the end of that sentence. We were topping a hill while the sun was breaking over tree tops on a tiny West Virginian coal town. It was cinematic. Quaint. The dominant architectural feature, bathed in sunlight, pointed to the sky determined and defiant, was a steeple. We don't build churches like this anymore. Now they look like office complexes. Now days we insure there is approachability, a commonness, a familiarity. Here, in the early morning sunshine, I imagined a harder time, where life and death lived closer together. When a simple structure in the middle of a town could point to something higher, more transcendent, a thing coming that would make it right. A thing so overt that you couldn't miss it. When earth is groaning, there's something lifting the gaze upward. A monument to the dream of God, a thing unmistakable, sitting in the middle of town. In that moment, topping a hill in rural West Virginia, with new sunshine in the morning air, I knew I wasn't done making music and I knew I wanted whatever I made next to feel like that. A thing pointing upward in the middle of all this.
Neon Steeple is a collection of songs and sounds looking forward to the past and counting the present as sacred. It is a search for home. It is a collection of choruses that believe that this is not all there is. It is displacement and tension and the forward lean anticipating the resolution. There is more, there must be. It is the sound of the Appalachians and Ibiza. Folk music and EDM. The music of the People. Folktronica. Digital and Analog. The Ones and Zeros and the Handshake. The Banjo and the 808.
Neon is an inert noble gas that is obtained from the distillation of liquid air, what we breathe in and out to stay alive, just thicker. You can drown in it. This is metaphor. Neon, a thing stereotypically used to sell some product or market a way of life that distracts a human from the thickness, the weight, the heaviness, the tension of the here and now. Neon Steeple is both a critique and a hope. A narrative of innocence lost, of displacement, of misplaced affections and misplaced people and the search for belonging and home and forgiveness and reconciliation, the tension of death and life leaning toward resolution, the promised land of what it means to come to life. The story is not about making bad people good, it is about making dead people alive. This is Promised Land. This is Redemption. This is Reorientation. This is Resolution.
I close this letter to you in gratitude. I am thinking of how miraculous it is that we have been somehow connected and how thankful I am that our bond, if I am able to be quite presumptuous, most likely exceeds technology, (Don't get me wrong, I think it is just shy of magic that I am able to sit here in this Michigan hotel room, with its fancy conditioned air, and its fancy florescent light with the fancy buzz, while plinking away on my fancy internet machine attempting to give to you a portion of my insides. That's freaking amazing!) that it most likely exceeds whether this particular thing I've made gets to live with you in moments you have yet to live, that it most likely exceeds whether you find these songs moving, or formative, or meaningful in any way at all. I hope that they are. I hope that you love them and are formed by them and find companion in them as I have. They most certainly are special to me. But what I am thinking of now, I am thinking of how it is quite likely we shall see each other one day in resolution. This future hope makes the heart swell.
Grace and Peace,