Drafts of testimonials from 11/9/07 "When Freedom Calls"
If Joseph Uveges' prize-winning release, "Promise of Portage", came from his soul; then his latest effort "When Freedom Calls" has come from his heart.
With his familiar lyrical style, Uveges weaves 9 originals and 2 covers into a textured blend influenced by his spiritual path. Although the songs have Christian echoes, their messages are non-traditional. The material ranges from humorous to driving, but the dominant feeling of these pieces is piercingly sweet.
Uveges reportedly dragged his feet on this project because he felt it would be too serious for his regular fans, and too heretical for religious listeners. Instead, however, early reviewers have claimed it is his best album yet. "When Freedom Calls" is a heartfelt gift from one of Colorado Springs favorite folk musicians.
Folk singer stays true to art, faith
By BILL REED
November 1, 2007 - 11:48PM
Joe Uveges has done it. He’s come out of the closet . . . and admitted he’s a Christian.
Uveges’ new album, “When Freedom Calls,” is a collection of spiritual tunes that lays bare his beliefs and even mentions the J-word a few times. It’s a bold move for the singer-songwriter who has been toiling on the local folk scene for two decades, and who has built his loyal audience outside of Christian circles.
Uveges writes in his liner notes: “On some level, though, I was afraid — afraid I would lose my audience — afraid people would not understand. I am still afraid, but I have felt something shift in me that will not allow me to wait anymore.”
He need not fear. “When Freedom Calls” is a fine album.
Uveges walks an unusual road, though. His songs might be too quirky and heretical for the contemporary Christian music crowd that craves singalong choruses everyone can learn quickly on Sunday mornings. But the songs might be too religious for folk music fans.
It is a meandering path Uveges follows, but it feels like an honest one. Most religious music is treacle, not only because of the demands of corporate worship but because it delivers clichéd thoughts and pat answers.
Uveges is comfortable asking questions on these 11 songs. He embraces mystery and unknowing, as any truthful artist must.
He tells the story of the prodigal son from the perspective of the pig he shared food with when he hit rock bottom (“The Canticle of the Pig”) and then from the perspective of the father (“I’ll Never Stop Loving You”).
The best song on the album is “I’m Not Waitin,’” a moody tune with a pulsating, passionate determination. The song seems to be about seizing the Kingdom of God and ingesting it today rather than waiting for a second coming. It is a powerful call to create change rather than waiting for a far-off heaven, closer perhaps to Joseph Campbell’s reading of Jesus’ words than Billy Graham’s.
The song also exemplifies the evolution of Uveges’ music. Instead of just a guy with an acoustic guitar, the exotic percussion forms a scintillating and even foreboding texture behind his words, the electric guitar adds muscle, and the vocals favor Uveges’ warm baritone.
Other standouts are his cover of Dave Carter’s “Gentle Arms of Eden” and “Receive Who You Are.” “Receive” is a more traditional Christian sentiment about the believer being the body of Christ, but it unfolds with clever wordplay, great harmony and a chorus that just might fit into Sunday morning worship after all. . .
"Congratulations on your new CD--your best yet, in my opinion. As I told you, I listen to "When Freedom Calls" over and over on my commute to and from work. I would liken it to Bob Seger's road song: Roll Me Away. Even better, though, as it isn't so melancholy. It's the best feel-good song I've heard since Train's Drops of Jupiter or Peter Mayer's Birthday Song." 11/9/07 Barbara Gibson Colorado Springs
I agree about the album, and I agree with Bill Reed. It’s so much more than anything that markets itself as Christian.
I’m thinking about some of the “praise” (even the term drives me nuts; they should be “mindless, directionless fawning” songs) songs these days that go “I live to praise you; you’re so freaking awesome, I bow down before you, I have no thoughts of my own…” blah, blah, blah. For God’s sake—and I mean that—he’d better be awesome; I mean, isn’t that the Biggest Foregone Conclusion of All Time? Sorry, thanks for listening. I’m better now.
Yours, on the other hand, actually challenges the listener to examine his/her own faith and heart. OK, so that’s obvious, too. Well, just consider me on the friggin bandwagon. I’ve just gotten my head around “I’m Not Waiting,” and what a great song; what a great challenge. Charlie Hall Colorado Springs
Oh, Joe! I love it! I am at home today so I can work, uninterrupted, on a writing project with a rapidly approaching deadline. I thought I could just play your new CD in the background and enjoy it while I worked. HAH! Instead, I have spent the last hour or so all alone in my living room, dancing and singing out loud to songs I am hearing for the first time! Who needs to work anyway!
My favorites...well - being the Goddess-loving girl I am, the Gentle Arms of Eden literally had me in tears. I played it three times just to make sure I heard all the words! As I was listening to "I'm not waiting," I kept thinking... "Right-Exactly! Yeah!" What a bold and powerful song! I think it was my favorite of all! I enjoyed the Canticle of the Pig and can't wait to play it for Mark, who grew up on a Pig Farm. (Laughed out loud at the pig noises!) The whole CD is wonderful from beginning to end. When Freedom Calls was especially sweet for me because it reminded me of how I met my Sweetheart and how the voices of nature always sing us back into each other's hearts when we feel distanced. Ahriana Platten Colorado Springs, CO
”Receive Who You Are” is a great mantra to have, and you are absolutely right; you can’t run away from God who will never stop loving if you are willing to just open up and accept the love –or even if you aren’t willing, or even if you can’t figure it all out… I just realized that there is a lot of “unworthiness” in myself with my reflections on my religion . . . So that takes care of two of the songs for now.
I love “I’m Not Waiting”—I remember when you first started putting the song together . . . It is a bizarre but exciting thing for me to hear something come alive in this manner—it must truly be an awakening for you. As I said, I really love the way this song evolved to the studio version. It is so polished and luscious, but wistful and poignant at the same time. I take my hat off to you on this one, friend. I will be listening to this track over and over.
I absolutely grin when I hear The Canticle . . .I think the lyrics to “Spellbound” caught me when I was driving the other day—your “spring” and my “fall” just struck a chord in me and the song tugged at my heartstrings. . .
“The Prayer Basket” intrigues the hell out of me—the whole concept is marvelous, and this song is a wonderful example of a singer storyteller peddling the best of his wares with an earnestness and humbleness that is reassuring to the listener.
I really love “Come and Behold”—a lot… and driving along, singing along, I realized that there are variations to this that work really well—‘Come and Be Whole’ and ‘Come and Be Healed’ accidentally came out of my mouth more than once, even though I knew these weren’t the ‘correct’ lyrics… Helen Mason Durham, NH
Thank you BEING YOU, for your COURAGE, PASSION, and HUMILITY. You have a HEART of gold! Carolyn McDowell Colorado Springs