Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Songs of Zion

Joseph, A Nashville Tribute to the Prophet.

Various Performers, produced by Jason Deere and Dan Truman

When I started spinning these tunes, I was taken somewhere that I wasn’t fully expecting. With a fiddle on the cover, and “Nashville” in the title, I was expecting a full-on country album. And there were a few country tunes, but by and large it felt more like the LDS folk singer/songwriter thing that Peter Breinholt, Shane Jackman, and others have established here in the valley.

And, while that was refreshing, since I’m not a big country fan, it also left me wondering. Where IS all the LDS country music? It has seemed to me to be such an obvious fit for so many years, why hasn’t anyone done it? Sure, country has its share of cheatin’, cryin’ in your beer tunes, but there’s also a lot of positive, family-oriented messages as well. So where’s the country in our souls?

But I digress…

While there are some real moments of greatness in the musical performance of these songs, the real shining star is the writing. Solid, powerful messages, beautifully crafted. I especially liked the choice Jason Deere made in writing about the prophet, instead of writing from the prophet’s point of view. In fact, many of the stories in the songs are about people around Joseph. The one about Porter Rockwell was particularly great, and the song about Emma helped me to see her in a new light.

The only song written from Joseph’s perspective was “Lamb to the Slaughter”, and I felt like that one was handled very very well.

The narrations between the songs were cool to help transition from song to song and set up the story of each work. That was nice, since the overall CD isn’t necessarily chronological. Still, the reading felt a little stiff to me, and kinda pulled me out of the mood that the music itself was setting. That’s really my only real complaint about this CD.

Another interesting thing about this project, is that is very clear that this is a very Mormon collection. You can’t sing about Joseph, Emma, Hyrum, and Porter and be trying to get a CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) record deal with it! And the messages are a strong testimony of the restoration.

If I were a bigger fan of the country/folksy sound, I’d probably be all over this project. But I can see that it was very well made. In addition to touching music fans, maybe it will inspire other country singers in the church to do church-related country music.

Mark Hansen


  1. I just heard most of this CD last week. I really thought that it was done well.

  2. My wife purchased this CD in mid-2006. It ended up in my laptop on a business trip. It is a well done work from star to finish. The vocalists selcted, the music writing and the message are all well put together and spaek to the qulity, time and energy energy expended to get it right. That is why I was perplexed by the fact that there is a reference to Ellis Island in American Dreams (my favorite track). Ellis Island wasn't open for immigration until 1892, and the Kirtland Temple was dedicated on March 27, 1836. The island was the home of Fort Gibson from just before the war fo 1812 until 1890, it would have been impossible for anyone immigrating to have landed on, or even visited Ellis Island from that start of construction of the Kirtland Temple in 1833 and its completion in 1836. It would be great if they could fix this one.
    I listen to the CD periodically and enjoy it.



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