After hearing the first few melodic folk based paeans on Sing To Your Mountain, the debut solo record by Rachel (Smith) Galloway who performs under the pious moniker Rachel, you will have to rethink your take on religious music. I was born and raised Catholic, was educated in Catholic schools and attended church at least twice a week for the first eighteen years of my life. During that time I sang in the choir and of course sang during mass. Over the years I was exposed to various Christian musical acts and artists, some of them better than others, though most all of them overarching and preachy.
But that was long ago and far away. And although those overbearing fire and brimstone spewing artists still exist, so now do artists such as Rachel. Rachel grew up in a family of people who loved to sing and play instruments. Her father is Lenny Smith, a world-renowned gospel singer and the man who penned the worship song known the world over, "Our God Reigns." Rachel and her siblings, led by her brother Daniel, are also known for staffing various entities of the indie gospel-pop outfit Danielson, who have collaborated and played with indie folk demigod Sufjan Stevens.
What sets Sing To Your Mountain apart from other faith-based records is that its songs, though steeped in religious themes and images, in no way come across as “preachy.” Rachel’s lyrics may deal with the typical themes of praising, using much of the nomenclature generally associated with Christian themed music, but her vocals are soft and angelic, and they are delivered as a conversation between herself and the Lord, so they are not coming down the mountain at the listener, but rather rising upwards, and exist on their way there for anyone who cares to listen.
It is for the listeners themselves to decide what exactly they will take away from these songs. The best of them, “The Lamp” and “Southern Paws” to name just a few, camouflage the Christian word play so well that one would be hard pressed to categorize them in the vein of solely Christian music. This may not be what Rachel had intended though it speaks to her abilities as a songwriter and lyricist.
Given the pool of musicians and vocalists Rachel has backing her on Sing to Your Mountain, and the fact that these songs are touted as “a collection of love songs and worship to the Lord” I was expecting to hear tracks with a bit more power, a bit more praise. Though as a whole, Sing to Your Mountain is an excellent offering in a genre that often falls short of making an impact on an audience outside of the faithful.
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