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Great Swimmers, Great Songs

July 16, 2009
different perspective

different perspective

It happened again. I went and got my lid lifted by another band who’s been at it for some time. I tweeted it recently, but if you’re not listening to Great Lake Swimmers, there’s a pretty good chance that you should be.

Do NOT listen to Great Lake Swimmers if you prefer forgettable melodies. If you want to just listen to a song and then move on, these folks are not for you. Also, steer clear if you need a huge wall o’sound to fill out and make up for a lack of songwriting; you aren’t going to get that either. And don’t come if you’re looking for operatic, belted vocals. This is WAY too understated for all that. But if you liked Eliot Smith, if you have dug Will Oldham or Iron & Wine, or perhaps even quieter moments of bands like the Decemberists, then you MUST check out Great Lake Swimmers.

Why even mention it here? People are always asking where inspiration comes from, and how God speaks in our day to day lives and keeps us going. I’ve made no secret that I’m not a fan of praise or contemporary christian music. But I do believe the Spirit can move through the workings of some of the most secular artists. For me, Great Lake Swimmers are a case in point. When the hair on the back of my neck rises between the chorus and next verse of “Pulling on a Line,” then I know I’m in special territory. And when I get a lyric like this, I’m spinning:

Second day I woke up
Had almost forgotten
I had never thought to
Try on different coloured robes
And I was face down in the in the sand
And I was lucky to be alive
Lucky to have survived

from “Three Days at Sea,” Great Lake Swimmers, 2003.

Great stuff, I think, so I pass it on to you. At the time of this writing there is a special feature with Tony Dekker at the unfortunately named britunes that Brian Williams is doing (yes, THAT Brian Williams). Check it out, then pick up this record an unreel yourself into a lovely mix of acoustic instruments, floating vocals and subtle arrangements.

“Everything is moving so fast…I am unlimited…”

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