Critique by Julian
Gorman - God of Fireflies by Katy Kinard
Preface to a unique review:
Music should make sense, have feeling, enrich lives and even enable people to do things they never would have without it. In the chaos of postmodern soundscapes, it is often difficult to discern what is real and what is fake. Music should come from the heart and soul. As a critic and artist who thrives on music, I have searched the indy landscape far and wide, 1000s of artists and so many songs it makes my brain ache. It has been years since I wrote anything on the subject, as the majority of music from the last decade has been overwhelmingly melancholy. Indeed, as a result my personal library has only gotten smaller, not larger like these hipster pirates with terrabytes of stolen music. I seek quality above quantity and love all genres of music. As a classically trained musician, I have a high level of taste and savant level capabilities, so I wince at even the slightest off-note in TV commercials or pop-culture. I no longer have the patience for incorrect musicology or bad theory, having lost my own voice, I all but resent the pop-stars using auto-tune to fake their way through life as sell-outs.
God of Fireflies by Katy Kinard
Like a bolt of lightening out of the storm of the music scene strikes “God of Fireflies” leaving the listener positively charged with the energy of love, life, truth, and bravery in the face of adversity. Katy Kianrd's new album shocks to the core, exposing raw emotion with faithful compassion. The storm of music seems more clear, illuminated by her brilliance, giving light & hope to a stale genre through genuine heartfelt poetry; a clarity surely from the grace of God. In this critic's opinion, it is her style of music that Christian radio so desperately needs to invigorate its soul.
Now that some of the technical bits are off of my conscience, let me go back a bit. It is important to be completely transparent on matters of bias, as it is possible due to my personal history with Katy. Normally a critic doesn't have to explain such things, but it is pertinent in this case. I am also going to review the album as a whole. I've never listened to it without enjoying the whole album, sometimes several times in a row as the songs all flow back to the beginning again. Every song could be a hit, so I will treat it as a whole body of art.
Katy is a mentor. I met her in high school. She was my partner in Madrigals for my first set of songs where we weren't a mixed choral group, with duos singing and dancing. Woodland Park's music department was impeccable under the tutelage of Morton and Martha Dickson, keeping education of the music arts perpetual throughout our entire grade school lives. Even as little kids we looked up to the Madrigals. When we made it into this select group our social lives completely changed, as these people also became my friends.
Katy, most of all perhaps, genuinely cares for people. When I came into contact again with her after over a decade, I realized that after all these years she *still* cared about my soul. How odd. Even most Christians, forgive me, do not have the time of day for my soul or most anyone else, unless there is something in it for them. I never renounced my faith, but one could easily deem me a doubting Thomas. I test everything and everyone to make certain of their faith, & this is my strength. It is annoying to most, as they are uncertain and do not wish to question their paths in this life. For Katy this was a challenge. After all those years she still remembered how I wander and question, but she never questioned my faith. She always had hope for all of us. Truly, if one is to define beauty that transcends this mortal physical plain, it is the hope of a faithful soul, feeling bravery not only for herself, but for everyone she meets. She would never admit it either, because she is humble and gives all of this to God, making her some sort of holy avatar of hope. One could then say that she aligns herself to that which is righteous, & because of this she speaks for the disenfranchised poor, sick, & damned. The latter being subjects most so called religious singers wouldn't touch with a 10 cubit pole. Katy tackles holy & hellacious subjects with the pure knowledge that Jesus became human to take all of these sins on for us. Some will be frightened of such fearless faith, because it takes a truly doubtless soul to embrace the heroism of survival.
Katy brings us stories of the best of humanity, the good and bad, producing honest American folk music with alternative country vibe that rocks as much as it rolls, with ballads, lullabies, anthems, and a complete album's worth of original & memorable hits. Not only is it a comprehensive album, but each song could be a single in its own right. I haven't felt this way about an album since I agreed with Thom York's Rolling Stone interview about OK Computer, where he wanted every song to be a single. That may seem odd at the top of the album, but by the time Revelations 3 hits by the album's end, the parallel makes sense. It is a sort of soft apocalyptic message meant to be a gentle reminder. Hell can happen anywhere relatively, as one can easily ascertain from the 3rd world hots-pots on fire with poverty, suffering, & genocide.
I wish all artists were so awake. It is difficult to associate Katy with the rest of her genre, as Christian music seems to be splintering into a family with many styles, watering down the message in order to reach more people. It's like a Jars of Clay ethos but with more positivism. It's pop like Amy Grant was, once upon my childhood. It's positive beyond what I hear on pop-Christian radio, yet deals with more difficult issues. Thus why I want to associate her with earlier folk artists. However, her singing style is so much more powerful that it rocks more like older Kelly Clarkson, but without blowing out her voice on strenuously silly riffing. Like Jewel but not so spiteful or depressing.
So, is this something new? Finally, someone combining all these elements and it makes sense. Forgive my personal bias: this is the music I want to hear on the radio. This is the music I want on my phone. This is music I can use everyday to become a better person. This music needs to be heard.
Once again, I find myself learning from Katy as I did all those years ago. I am so proud, in awe, I am watching how she lives & adapting a few of those positive attributes for myself. That's a role model. They practically don't exist in music anymore. Katy could have taken that role easily, exploiting her physical beauty, taking advantage of this new visual media mix that so easily objectifies -not only women- all whom attempt to be famous, turning them into American music industry golden calves.
Instead, Katy took the hard path, the old path, she tours as a real singing songwriter putting in her dues. She looks like a star, but dresses & acts modestly with the humility of a genuine person. She could have been a manipulative pop-star. She is instead the messenger for little kids, reminding us of the childlike love the savior embodied. She is not perfect. She sees a part of perfection, a glimpse of heaven, & we are all blessed to have her wisdom recorded for all time inequity, but more blessed to know that it is in us all, in all our children, in every leaf, in every dandelion, in every firefly... we are God's little kids. Katy's new album is a lovely reminder of what is truly beautiful.
It is my belief that after utilizing Katy's music in my own life, that God of Fireflies could help heal millions. It isn't just “some christian music album.” It's a message that empowers the love of God in people's hearts. With that in mind, I am about to say something that no self-respecting critic should ever say: I love "God of Fireflies" by Katy Kinard. I don't love things typically, as a savant to literature & ethics, a Biblical historian of multilingual comprehension, a bitter skeptic who has seen the worst of human nature on sociological principia; to know what the disciples & apostles experienced as close as is possible in postmodernity's ethnocentric satiated ways. I have seen the worst that life has to offer in what society deems the best possible situations: The curse that is the hallowing of Babylon surely affects every life, that no matter how hard we try to make things right, they are corrupted. When the light of God shines through we should speak up with clarity and honesty. Thus, I am giving a nearly perfect review for the first time in 20 years. Thank you, Katy.
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