IT’S A MASTERPIECE, AND YOU COULDN’T HAVE
HIT MY HOT BUTTONS ANY MORE PERFECTLY. DESIGN IS GORGEOUS. PICKING AND SINGING SUPERB. AND THE OLD SONGS… I’M SPEECHLESS. KUDOS AND CONGRATS TO ALL…WHAT A GIFT. —Jerry Jenkins, Author of the ‘Left Behind’ Series
SIMPLEMAN – ‘LeBeaux’s Dance’
(G1 Media Group, 2005)
You know, artists used to make LPs. They made albums—not just collections of songs, but wondrous interior journeys that kicked off Side 1 with that readily familiar radio tune, dove straightway into a lush ballad, spun into experimental-land midway through, and guided you toward intermission with a wistful side-closer. Once you caught your breath and, with trembling hand, set the stylus to Side 2’s crackling opener, you were soccer-styled into high gear with up-the-ante energy, tossed headlong into deeper balladry, juggled mercilessly between pumping instrumentals and head-spinning vocal jaunts, and, finally, sent sliding home with the quiet anthemic closer—all meant to propel you back into the world with new eyes to see…
Leave it to Simple Man to bring back the classic form, with canny stealth and the greatest of ease. Trust me, it’s here on LeBeaux’s Dance – three veterans of life, love, music and faith combining the greater part of a musical century between them to form a statement that’s subtle yet clear, exuberant yet exquisite. And, as is true with any thoughtful work, if you pay close attention you get rewarded—in spades. The accolades for Simple Man are starting to build, and they’re coming from across the generations. It’s easy to see
why: there’s enough here to satisfy everyone from aspiring axe-youth to life’s grey-trimmed vets. Yet ain’t nothing on LeBeaux’s Dance dumbed down; on the contrary, you’re pulled upward by uber-levels of on-your-toes musicality and clear-eyed life experience. Note the wizened whimsy of “Trust and Obey,” the icicle pluck-tones of “In Christ Alone,” the Celtic-Latin flavorings of the instrumentals, the sparse Windham Hill intro to “Be Thou My Vision.” These songs do traverse vast musical terrain—from samba-bossa guitar stylings, to winding, lyrical wind-play, all in service to soaring folk-gospel vocals—but the sound is clearly forged in the shadow of the majestic Rockies, evoking their quiet grandeur. It’s a region, not coincidentally, that gave rise to so many of Simple Man’s forebears, from Fogelberg (note the lullaby fingerpickings) to Walsh (see the searing slide) to Firefall (check the evocative reed-blowing). So what lifts this musical stew above the fray, with such a singular voice and subtle cohesion? Simply put, these guys have lived it. They know fatherhood, marriage, art and faith, friendships long and short, dreams met or deferred—all the peaks-and-lows attendant to the wondrous journey that is life. It’s how they’ve come by the stirring trilogy of songs that surfaces midway through LeBeaux’s Dance and spins things in a whole new direction: the resolve in the relentless march-beat toward “The Wonderful Cross”; the stirring anguish in the revamped “Find the Cost of Freedom”; the hard-earned solace in “Tis So Sweet,” a homily that, after this scorching sequence, can be believed. Yes, these guys know music, but above all they know life. It’s all there as Dan Tharaldson wraps his breathyhigh vocals around lament and praise, as Chuck Haas barrelhouses his intense but thrifty guitar fills, as Paul Jacobson sustains those penetrating wind-notes. Like any experienced father, they know alternately when to offer a gently guiding hand (“Trust & Obey”), when to force an issue (“Find the Cost”), and when to pull back with sensitivity (“Be Thou My Vision”). A dance indeed. These are the goods, delivered with urgent grace to your door. They’ve been brought out of the woodwork (help yourself to the pun), the fretwork, the yeoman’s work of doing music and doing life, whence Simple Man’s expansive sound has been fermenting for decades. The results are cemented in twelve evergreens. Join the dance.
—Scott Sawyer, author, Earthly Fathers: A Memoir
PAUL A. JACOBSON
Paul Jacobson’s depth of context bursts through the cracks on LeBeaux’s Dance. His musical vision and instrumental chops have found their way on to stage with artists ranging from popster Kim Hill to gospel soul man Phil Driscoll, among others. Switching workstools with ease, Paul also has done scoring for Disney’s Buena Vista Television, the WB network and New Life Church’s massive passion play, The THORN. Then there’s his published songwriting, which makes appearances on projects such as Integrity Hosanna!’s Made Me Glad. At day’s end, Paul pays it forward in the neighborhood, where he has taught on music in local schools and colleges along the Colorado Front Range (with work published in education journals), instructs at the professional songwriting seminars, and directs church music in a variety of forms and venues.
Chuck Haas’s musical geography is as varied as his peripatetic life, forming a cohesive whole in his composing and playing if not in his estimable brain. A specialist in all things stringed, he has performed alongside and/or opened for Robin and Linda Williams (of “A Prairie Home Companion”), blues maven Rory Block, axe icon Phil Keaggy, crooner Margaret Becker, and disparate others. As Simple Man’s sound makes clear, Chuck’s roots spring from that magical trans-decade that gave rise to the Byrds and Stonehill, James Taylor and YES, Steeleye Span and Pat Metheny. Fusing it all and then some, he partnered with Tim Seaman in 1984 to form the instrumentalist duet MidWinter Spring, performing throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. Two decades later, any musical illogic was lost on Chuck when he joined the alt-acoustic Christian-indie band Cede, serving as elder statesman and performing David Lindley-like string duties while touring the Southwest, West Coast and Northern U.S. Cede’s youthful penchant for Krispy-Crème and In-and-Out Burgers fueled Chuck’s eventual gravitation to Simple Man, as well as to his church, where he brings it all home in worship music.
Dan Tharaldson’s soaring front-and-center vocals with Simple Man are the product of thirty years of international travel as a performing singer-songwriter. His gigs have been alongside and/or opening for artists ranging from John Tesh to Matthew Ward, Jennifer Knapp, Whiteheart, Wes King, Cindy Morgan, and the aforementioned Keaggy. Early on, in the 1980s, Dan recorded with the group Sonlight under the Benson, Greentree and Brentwood Records labels, while working with the ministry of James Robison. Like his bandmates in Simple Man, he’s funneled decades of life/music/ministry experience into a singular vision, which for Dan also takes form in his creative brainchild, G1 Media Group. And, like Paul and Chuck, Dan finds his deeper passions outleted in church, where he leads worship gatherings in the music of the spheres.
INSPIRED MUSIC WHICH CAN INSTANTLY TRANSPORT YOU OUT OF
THE FAST-PACED AND FRENZIED WORLD AND INTO A PLACE
OF QUIET AND SWEET REST, A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN
RECONNECT WITH GOD AND DRAW CLOSE TO HIS HEART.
THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THIS MUSICAL MASTERPIECE DOES
FOR ME.— Dave Dravecky,President,Dave Dravecky’s Outreach of Hope
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