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Under the Gaze

Carolyn Arends' album Under the Gaze does a remarkably successful job of mixing everything from country, bluegrass and Celtic to pop and rock.


Carolyn Arends is one busy artist, but her latest folk/pop album sounds anything but hurried, offering a light and sparkling melting pot of musical styles set to her own homespun witty lyrics.

2B Records, $20.00

As the awards that have showered upon her suggest, Arends is one of Canada's premier contemporary artists. She's released eight albums since 1995, and she's still bursting with creativity: on Under the Gaze she writes all the tracks and produces the entire album, plus she's published two books, numerous freelance articles, a near-daily Internet blog and has two kids to raise with her husband, Mark. (There is also another new album, Christmas: An Irrational Season—perhaps we'll catch up with that in a few months.)

Musically, Under the Gaze does a remarkably successful job of mixing everything from country, bluegrass and Celtic to pop and rock. Mandolin with occasional acoustic guitars and fiddles mesh together with electric sitar, harpsichord, heavy electric guitars and pounding drums. Then there is Arends' little girl voice, a refreshing blend of Stevie Nicks, Carole King and Joni Mitchell.

Her lyrics cover a range of joys and sorrows, such as friendship, her husband's laughter and the heart-breaking death of a baby—all seen through the eyes of faith. "I write primarily about God because He is what captivates my imagination," she says on her website.

Her lyrics can make the listener take notice. "Not a Tame Lion" tackles how we try to view God on our terms: "I make you in my image/More often than not/I keep you like a treasure/in my jewellery box/but you smash through my illusions/like only you can do/and break apart those idols/that I make of you." The entire song is strong, including an extended, full-tilt Celtic fiddle solo by her regular collaborator Spenser Capier.

A most satisfying album, with musical and lyrical highlights aplenty.

Originally published in Faith Today, March/April 2006.

 

 
 
 
 

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