There are very few albums that stay with you forever. Love and War and The Sea In Between by Josh Garrels is one of those albums. Let me tell you why.
First off lets establish that this album isn’t just the best Josh Garrels record. This record isn’t just the best folk record. This collection of songs is one of the best albums I have ever heard. I downloaded it last year for free on Noisetrade, and since Josh is releasing his new album, Home, tomorrow, I thought I’d go ahead and revisit the album that made him well known.
Love and War is one of those albums that you not only love at first listen, but continue loving many listens on. That is rare considering albums I love on the first listen are the ones I forget about the next week, and the ones I don’t end up being my most treasured. But this has only gotten even better over time. It’s a folk, acoustic, hip/hop album, like Josh’s others, but there’s something special about this one that makes it stand above everything he’s done. It begins with “White Owl,” where we’re invited into the calm sea the album brings us. I adore songs like this, and “White Owl” is a fine example of brilliant poetry. Then two songs later we have “Farther Along,” a stunning ballad that’s a sure highlight of the album.
The first three songs are just wonderful, simple acoustic arrangements which fools you into thinking that’s all you’re going to get from Garrels, but then he reveals the magic this album holds in the first of five instrumental tracks, “A Far-Off Hope.” This is where the album throws the listener off in the best way with its sole rap track, “The Resistance.”
From there what follows is endless twists and turns, each simply wonderful in execution. There isn’t a song out of the 18 that I’d remove, it’s that good.
Lyrically the album explores all things the title suggests. You have songs about love, and songs about war. That war is the one inside of us, the one we fight daily. Guilt and shame are the enemies of this battle, but the album shows Christ overcoming all. While I could give you my favourite lines, this album is so full of them that they’d take up an entire post themselves, but with that said, my favourite song lyrically is “Revelator.” A darker song documenting the events in the book of Revelation. It reveals the frightening majesty of Christ, and it could make anyone fall on their knees in awe. Holy, holy, is the One, who was and is, and is to come, in a robe as red as blood, He comes forth.
In the back of the album, Josh leaves us with the song, “Pilot Me,” which serves as the teary, yet joyful, goodbye of the album, before closing out with the final reflective instrumental, “Processional.”
There’s a reason this album has remained a favourite by many over the years. It’s a work of art not too often seen, and it’s one everyone should hear at least once. With that said, some may find it a bit too long in length, being over an hour long, but it’s a very minor qualm that doesn’t reflect the score in the slightest. So if you like folk music, or just good music in general, Love & War & The Sea In between is a must have.
To note, Josh Garrels’ new album, Home, will be released this Tuesday for free on Noisetrade!