A few months ago, something really neat happened. Catholic singer/songwriter Audrey Assad invited people to help her out financially with the production of her newest album. In return for contributing to the Kickstarter campaign, backers were able to (among other things) download the full album before it was made available to the general public. Since I am a huge fan of her other work, contributing to this album was a no-brainer for me.
This morning in my email I received a very pleasant surprise in the form of a download link to the new album: Fortunate Fall. I made haste to download it, fire up the KRKs, and give it a listen.
I was not prepared for where Ms. Assad’s music would lead me over the next hour or so.
It led me into a place of prayer on this unseasonably chilly July afternoon.
Assad’s previous work has impressed me with her lyrical depth and her songwriting creativity. This newest album continues this, and deepens it. And to write that Fortunate Fall is beautiful almost seems to be an understatement. I found myself repeating the tracks several times. Once through was not nearly enough for me to process the incredible instrumentation, the lyrics & vocals, and – most of all – the kind of prayer into which I was being led.
The theme of Fortunate Fall comes from the Easter Proclamation that we hear every year at the Easter Vigil:
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!
As such, I found the lyrics in this album to be challenging me to go deeper into the mystery of Christ’s loving humility in saving us, even when we had fallen. Infused with Scripture (especially the psalms!) and the Tradition, the lyrics have been challenging me to examine my own humility (or lack thereof). The music also led me into a deeper sense of thankfulness. And my mind has gone to lots of other places that I have yet to process fully.
(This would be a great album to take on a retreat, I think!)
For example, the track “I Shall Not Want” has many of the themes presented in the Litany of Humility, and I found the oft-repeated line, “Deliver me O God” ringing in my mind well afterward. What a challenging prayer to make. It’s quite scary, actually, when looking at the lyrics on their own. Yet, as they were couched within gorgeous strings and wonderful vocals, I found this prayer to in fact be immensely hopeful in tone: it’s God upon whom I rely, not my own devices. How appropriate it was, then, to be led into the next track (“Good to Me”) which immediately begins with the line: “I put all my hope in the truth of Your promise.” The one song flowing into the other like this cannot have been an accident; Someone Else is at work.
I found this album to be doing this sort of thing in me over and over. It is much more than an album: it’s a journey of prayer.
Thank you for this, Ms. Assad. I give this a wholehearted five stars. Or two thumbs up. Or 5 noses (in Lino Rulli’s terms). Or whatever scoring system says “This-is-really-awesome-and-everyone-should-buy-it-plus-another-copy-or-five-for-their-friends!”
Also: If you are in the Saskatoon area, be sure to mark off the evening of Nov. 8, when Assad will be there for the Diocese of Saskatoon Festival of Faith!
Tickets available here!