Listen/purchase: How Long by Bradley Hathaway
Breaking hiatus to share what might be one of the great hidden treasures of this year’s indie albums.
I was fortunate enough to get a pre-release listen to Bradley Hathaway’s How Long.If you’re familiar with Bradley at all, his new album (coming out Nov. 5) is his most versatile album yet.
I’ve been following him for a few years now, and I see he’s refined his style and matured a lot as an artist since his humble beginnings as a spoken-word poet, and his newest album’s his best testament of his lyrical craft yet. Just like his previous releases (like A Thousand Angry Panthers, and A Storm Coming),— and more gradually so with each one,— his style’s matured and evolved with a dark tone of tragedy and brokenness, many of his songs dealing with issues of substance abuse, sexual abuse, parental neglect, crumbled relationships, and loneliness (though there’s still a glimmer of his iconic ’cute’ romances, like the track ‘Courthouse’).
But what draws me, personally, so much to Hathaway’s style is his unabashed and unfiltered honesty, which is crucial to true art. With his last 3 albums and EP’s, he’s been mastering something revolutionary in CCM circles, which is only slowly growing, and only so with a lot of resistance. With his newest album, he successfully sheds off further the dampening artistic effects that ‘moralizing’ Christian undertones cause, and still pose a hurtle to much of his contemporaries in the CCM.
For a first listen, it’s hard to see if these are even ‘Christian’ songs at all. And in a sense, they’re not. They’re songs of despair and ruin, which seem themselves looking and crying for salvation. The ‘spirituality’ within his lyrics only comes as hauntingly as in a Flannery O’Connor tale. In some, Grace is just a brief flicker, trying and fighting to get it’s way in the characters’ hearts, or even into the song at all, like it’s desperately trying to mend a broken relationship. I find his message of Grace lies nowhere else but in his character’s desperate demand for it, and, probably unique to almost all Christian song-writers today, he offers no real sense of a pre-defined morality and modesty, instead, it evolves only from the outcomes. He offers only a Christ-like outlet somewhere within a song, and his characters are given a true sense of choice in accepting his healing or not. His technique offers a lot of room for artistic expression.
So take a listen, and support an independent artist. Pre-order How Long, releases Nov. 5. To get a good feel of what I mean, check my personal favorite tracks; ‘So Far’, ‘He Drives’, ‘If I Should Die.’
Or check out his earlier work; ‘She was Raised by a Man with a Sickness’, ‘The World is Screaming’, ‘Look Up’