NEW ALBUM THE JOY RELEASED BY TIM NEUFELD AND THE HALLELUJAH GLORY BOYS SEPTEMBER 9TH REACHING #1 ON CANADIAN ITUNES INSPIRATIONAL ALBUM CHART
Born out of a burgeoning nu-folk movement, Tim Neufeld and the Hallelujah Glory Boys are part of a musical renaissance spearheaded by the likes of The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford and Sons. The movement harkens back to a simpler time, the ageless feel of front-porch banjo picking and heartfelt harmonies rolling out over a field of corn as the sun dips slowly downward. Or, if that metaphor doesn't do it for you, I'll borrow a line from Nickel Creek frontman Chris Thile in Another Day, Another Time. "What everyone's going for is to create an experience that could be had around a campfire."
Folk has always been an inclusive form of music; unifying songs to be shared by the common
people. And while you may not find compressed, four-on-the-floor kick drums and polished banjo lines around a campfire, the aesthetic intent remains decidedly straightforward: connect with people through simple songs.
While the folk movement has often been criticized for overly introspective, heavy-hearted ballads of lost love and self-loathing, Neufeld's sophomore solo album, The Joy, tries to take things in a more positive direction. "When did this thing become so serious anyway?" he wonders. "From what I can gather, at the end of the day Jesus was all about the celebrations, the laughter, the feasts, and the hanging with friends… The Kingdom of God is like old friends getting sushi and having a ‘Gilmore Girls' marathon." And while I hope to God that His Kingdom is nothing like a Gilmore Girls marathon (the fast-talking mother-daughter duo still haunts my childhood memories, reminding me of the
many times my brothers and I were forced to surrender the television during Hockey Night in Canada so that my sisters could watch the show), I'll back Neufeld on the sushi and grant him the point. The Christian faith should be a joyful experience, as Psalm 16:11 says: "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Throughout the album, Neufeld and his new-found Hallelujah Glory Boys wed fast-tempo, hand-clapping tunes with similarly optimistic words, calling out his musical colleagues on the standout track, "Nothing To Take":
"What good's the good life, if we're still miserable? And why live half empty when we can live half full?"
This sort of lyrical levity is found throughout the album, and it's evident that for Neufeld, life is all about beginning each day with gratitude and choosing to chase the sunshine. Even on his re-imagining of the classic hymn "Nothing But The Blood", a traditionally slow and mournful tune, Neufeld refuses to wallow in guilt and shame and instead brings in rolling toms and a crescendoing bridge, where a thick chorus of "Ooooohs" washes over emphatic snare shots and a lilting banjo line.
And, while some might find Neufeld's approach on songs like "A Toast to the Most" to be borderline irreverent, you have to respect Neufeld's attempt to free the gospel from sombre, cold cathedrals and to haul it out into the streets and the glass-raising feasts where it belongs. He reminds us that we don't need stained glass and pipe organs (or pyrotechnics and a stack of amps, for that matter) to share the joy of the Good News.
You can catch Tim and his Lord-lovin' hillbillies on their cross country tour this fall.