The Gray Havens is an indie Christian folk-pop duo from Illinois. They recently released an instrumental album called Instrumentals, Vol. 1. It features the instrumental recordings of songs from their previous albums. In honor of their release, I did a session for their most recent studio album called She Waits, which was released in 2018. Here we go!
They use parables, which is a genius idea considering Jesus spoke in a lot of parables. However, Jesus’ parables were not vague.
Some of the vagueness is also their use of forced rhyme. Just because it rhymes doesn’t mean the word fits in the song.
It’s really difficult to write a parable as a song without using the hook or bridge to explain what the parable is supposed to mean. Jesus always shared what the parable meant. In the English translation of the bible, Jesus also used similes to describe what each person or thing represents, which is a good tool to use for storytelling - or in this case, narrative songwriting. Jesus used this tool when talking about the “Workers In The Vineyard” (Matthew 20:1-16). A lot of storytellers, outside and inside the church, use the same tool when narrating a compelling story. To write folk music, understanding the use of narrative songwriting is crucial or the listener will become confused or disinterested.
The Gray Havens want to use parables, but parables are only worth it when it’s meant to tell a story. That means it needs a theme that has an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Listening to this album felt like it was just a rising action with a very vague exposition, no climax, falling action, or resolution. Without an actual premise to fall on other than being vague to look cool, the project makes no sense.
Huge kudos to whoever their manager is because they recently released an instrumental version for the album. Now that is a major save for them!
The folk duo did a great job branching out to other genres in the album. It’s pretty versatile. The first two tracks are their classic folk style. With High Enough they surprise the listener with a pop/hip hop track that features rapper/spoken word artist Propaganda.
The composition does not stand out on it’s own but the melodies make the confusing lyrics listenable. Production is another huge save! Each track has its own theme. From High Enough having a more heavy darker tone, Gone Are The Days is more of an indie singer-songwriter feel. The simplicity of the composition is enlightening.
Great job on the production.
The album artwork is well done but the meaning is unknown. Considering the duo is folk, the earthy visual is fitting.
MIX/MASTER & SESSION
There’s not a lot to say about the mix for this project other than excellent job! The mix is what made each track listenable.
However, the session was very confusing. It was too vague to understand anything. It’s okay to want to write a song in parables. A good song is always about showing the story rather than telling. It seems that is The Gray Havens goal. However, it wasn’t reached in this project. Jesus spoke in parables but even his parables meant something. These songs didn’t really tell a good story but the composition and mix is good. Instrumentally everything blended and the mix was the final touch that allowed the session bearable enough to be listened to from beginning to end.
Was this session a worthy session overall? It depends. For the message it is not a worthy session. For it’s instrumental and audio creativity, yes, it is a worthy session. Considering that I prefer to listen to folk music for it’s message I wouldn’t listen to this project again. Knowing that the duo released an instrumental version for the album, I’ll just listen to that one.
LYRICS/MESSAGE - 3
COMPOSITION/PRODUCTION - 9
ALBUM ARTWORK - 9
MIX/MASTER - 10
SESSION - 4
Take a listen