About the album
Selah. It’s a word from Hebrew, found throughout the Psalms and nearly untranslatable—but with meanings that encompass a pause, a moment of reflection, a break in the action for contemplation and thought. Interestingly, the word’s root denotes connection and, in its Arabic derivation, even refers to prayer. Like “love,” it’s a word one could spend a lifetime unpacking.
“Selah” pops up twice in Jennifer Daniels’ Come Undone, not only as titles for instrumentals, but also to indicate moments to take stock of the songs that just have been sung, and to prepare for the next song cycle.
A “selah moment” also cropped up in Daniels’ life, as she and husband Jeff Neal recently paused to take stock of their marriage and independent music career, both a decade old at that point. It was in that moment that the album Come Undone was conceived—along with something else neither of them were expecting.
As Daniels recalls:
We were feeling nostalgic, looking back over the ground we’d covered, and looking forward to what might lie ahead. In April 2008 we set aside two weeks to free ourselves from other distractions, and to put some effort into seeking guidance for the future of our music and our family.
From that time, we decided to go ahead with plans for the new album, and to ask Scott Smith, a long-time friend and amazing musician, to be producer and engineer. Meanwhile, unannounced to us, two little embryos began to form inside of me, as if in direct answer to our prayers for what path to take.
Being in a place in her personal life that had her thinking bigger, grander thoughts than may otherwise have been the norm, the album that began to take on an epic scope as well.
I’d acquired a blank journal back in January and as I wrote down thoughts and lyrics, thinking through the theme of the album as a whole, I realized that the songs could be divided into three chapters, forming one story. I wanted to mark those chapters somehow, so we created the musical interludes to bridge them, and we entitled those interludes “Selah I” and “Selah II.”
It was all very Shakespearean—like watching one of his plays-within-a-play—the way the art of the album mirrored what was happening in our lives at the time. As we were in the midst of our own “selah” we were working out the structure of the new album, and composing literal selahs for it.
About the structure
I like to think of the first chapter as the blind enthusiasm of good hopes and dreams. The second chapter plunges the listener into the devastation of those dreams: death, divorce—any of the disorienting, disillusioning realities that rend us And the third-chapter songs are snapshots of things that have reoriented and comforted me during some of those very dark times. Thanks to designer Chris Rucker, the album art also echoes this theme, such as the compass in the CD tray, trained on the “True East.”
About the title
The title, Come Undone, is an invitation to allow the weight of disappointment to strip you of things that can be taken away—in order to find the stabilizing force of what cannot.
About the songwriting
The reason that the songs on this album are written in a more direct, first person voice, is that I couldn’t help using my creative time to work through some of the trauma I’ve experienced. In doing that I found that a lot of the songs ended up being songs of hope and gratitude for gifts I’ve been given, such as the joy of love that gets stronger even as our bodies decline (“Every Single Day”), the enormity of the mountain that makes me feel small and my problems less important (“Follow Me”), the hope of life after death (“My Lover’s Ghost”) and the relief that I don’t have to be worthy of worship, but can relax and worship the one who is (“All the Glory.”)
In sum, this isn’t bubblegum pop music, made to burble from your radio speakers one day and be forgotten the next. Instead, through the thought, care and craft that went into its creation, Daniels hopes the album she’s delivered is at least somewhat as meaningful, resonant and lasting as the beautiful twins she delivered at nearly the same time.