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RANDY STONEHILL - THE LOST ART OF LISTENING (*NEW-CD, 2020) ala Return To Paradise + Phil Keaggy

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RANDY STONEHILL - THE LOST ART OF LISTENING (*NEW-CD, 2020) ala Return To Paradise + Phil Keaggy

Lost Art Of Listening is the kind of singer-songwriter album that artists like Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, and Jim Croce used to make for millions of fans. That Stonehill, after fifty years, is still crafting new songs at such a high level and finding a way to get them out to the world is a miracle in and of itself. 
 TRUE TUNES REVIEWS

  • 6-panel wallet / 16 page booklet with lyrics and pics
  • 14 Songs! Packaging includes a lyric booklet with unique graphics for each song. Classic Stonehill all the way!

ABOUT THE ALBUM
2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Born Twice; Randy Stonehill’s seminal, and obscure, underground Jesus Music LP. While it is just and good to take time to remember and honor the pioneering work this legendary artist has done in the past it’s beyond thrilling to hear brand new music from the hands and heart of this old friend. Stonehill’s Lost Art Of Listening finds him focused on what he does best – earthy songs fully of humor, heart, and grace. 

This 14-song, fan-funded collection has been long in the making. It’s obvious, from the musical minutiae to the intricately designed full color packaging, that Stonehill and his cast of supporters were intent on presenting the veteran artist at his best.  Though fully anchored in his acoustic traditions, Lost Art Of Listening integrates elements of rock and sophisticated pop. Mike Pachelli, an accomplished musician in his own right, comes alongside Stonehill at the production helm. The recording is clear and warm, especially on the Americana-inflected tracks. The inclusion of light percussion and bass (often added by the legendary Byron House,) anchors Stonehill’s sturdy compositions. Cameos by folks like Phil Keaggy and Regina McCrary are welcome additions; Pachelli himself adds an incredible amount of music to the set – and pulls in the supporting cast perfectly. The collection is sonically reminiscent of Stonehill’s Return To Paradise, hitting his sweet spot as a writer, guitarist, and vocalist. (scroll below for the rest of the review)

Tracks
1. Mercy in the Shadowland
2. This Old Face
3. Beginning of the Living End
4. Thinly Veiled Threat
5. She Loves Me
6. Coyote Moon
7. Still Not Over You
8. Billy Frank
Father Trilogy:
9. Leonard Has a Toaster
10. Where Are You
11. Goodbye Old Friend
12. Worry About Money
13. Angel of the Highway
14 Dance Beyond the Laughing Sky

 

TRUE TUNES REVIEW CONTINUED...

The album opener, “Mercy In The Shadowland,” offers a nimble acoustic riff before settling into a laid back, but satisfyingly complex, full-band accompaniment to a lyric that brings all of the compassion and encouragement for which Stonehill has been known. The next few tracks establish the sonic and thematic boundaries to which the artist lays claim. “This Old Face” reflects, with a blend of humor and bemusement, on the wrinkles and crows feet a younger Randy probably never imagined he would possess. Beneath the surface, however, the benefits of age are on full display. “Beginning of the Living End” brings the rock and “Thinly Veiled Threat” simmers with blues heat. “She Loves Me,” however, really pops. Between the effervescent folk-pop elements in the melody – which definitely hearken back to Stonehill’s earliest gems – and the unabashed romance of the lyric, it’s a good old fashioned love song.

It is wonderful to hear a songwriter of his caliber branch out lyrically the way Stonehill does on this collection. While his last several independent releases have featured specifically and obviously Christian material – which he clearly has a knack for writing – Lost Art Of Listening dares to expand its gaze, faithfully, to romance, friendship, aging, and family. It’s not that this is “secular” by any stretch; even when he humorously tackles the stress of materialism on “Worry About Money,” he does so through parables and Scriptural references. And the songs that revel in love or long for reconciliation, do so with an air of the spiritual moving through them as opposed to feeling as if they are checking “Christian music” boxes. Stonehill is clearly comfortable simply writing great songs and allowing his faith to flow through them naturally. The results are interesting, satisfying, and emotionally resonant and should find favor with discerning ears of any theological persuasion. It’s nice to think that somehow these songs might find those ears.

There are no “big guitars” here. There are no cheeseburgers or other novelty tunes. Nor, however, is this some stark collection of solo acoustic demos. Lost Art Of Listening is the kind of singer-songwriter album that artists like Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, and Jim Croce used to make for millions of fans. That Stonehill, after fifty years, is still crafting new songs at such a high level and finding a way to get them out to the world is a miracle in and of itself. That they are this good is a challenge to young artists everywhere. It’s clear that he has been listening, not only to the creative voice in his own head, but the still small voice that has been whispering in his ear for decades. It’s an absolute travesty that an artist of his skill and provenance works in such obscurity this far into his career. Lost Art of Listening indeed.

There are no “big guitars” here. There are no cheeseburgers or other novelty tunes. Nor, however, is this some stark collection of solo acoustic demos. Lost Art Of Listening is the kind of singer-songwriter album that artists like Dan Fogelberg, James Taylor, and Jim Croce used to make for millions of fans. That Stonehill, after fifty years, is still crafting new songs at such a high level and finding a way to get them out to the world is a miracle in and of itself. That they are this good is a challenge to young artists everywhere. It’s clear that he has been listening, not only to the creative voice in his own head, but the still small voice that has been whispering in his ear for decades. It’s an absolute travesty that an artist of his skill and provenance works in such obscurity this far into his career. Lost Art of Listening indeed.