Inspired melodies, pitch-perfect harmonies and straight-to-the-heart lyrics. There are reasons aplenty to buy Zehnder’s new CD, Going Up?
The music is described as ecumenical Christian, but that doesn’t begin to cover it. If your belief, like mine, is based more on New Thought than New Testament, or if, frankly, you would never buy “religious” music of any kind, expect to be surprised.
Zehnder, a gifted pair of composer-musicians, have labored and brought forth a true masterwork. In this brilliant collection, art transcends, allowing listeners of whatever belief to connect. Connect with what? That’s the miracle. One might believe one hears the voice of angels... or of Dave Matthews... or Police, all of whom seem to be present, at least in spirit. From the rousing “Rise Up,” to the meditative “Breathe In, Breathe Out,” this music is both inclusive and expansive throughout.
While nearly all the songs are exuberant and uplifting, each is musically unique and shows off the astonishing range of talent in this band. One of my favorites, called “One Fluid Flow,” speaks of flowing streams and a rushing river of faith. It starts off with a trudging repetition, reminiscent of Gregorian chant. At the bridge, though, the melody breaks away and flows freely, much like, well, a stream. Suddenly the stream opens into a rushing river, where the melody and white water harmony become winding and exhilarating. I look forward to that ride every time and marvel that the music is, in fact, so amazingly fluid.
Another favorite, called “I Believe,” is one of the more somber offerings. While a minor-keyed plea is urged on by a hauntingly beautiful cello, the lyrics describe, with unnerving precision, my darkest moments: “Swing white hot fury to black despair, ’dare you to find your God in there.”
There is also great variety here. Zehnder brought in Street Poets to rap social commentary in “Justice Jam.” “Shepherd’s Alleluia” transvests as a liturgical chant. “Drum Invitation” and “Angel Solo” provide inspired percussion and vocal interludes.
Be surprised, too, by production values that rise above the ordinary, with fine details and deftly mixed layers. I know nothing about the technical aspects, but I do know quality when I hear it. I also hear cello, French horn, doumbek, mandolin, African shakers and – what’s that? – the sounds of an elevator “going up”?!
I enthusiastically recommend Going Up? Whatever your spiritual leanings, I guarantee this music is so irresistible, you will turn up the volume, as you zoom down the highway, singing “Spirit Born” at the top of your voice.