Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dustin Kensrue - Carry the Fire

Dustin Kensrue has finally emerged from the shadows of the newly reunited Thrice as well as his praise and worship albums.  He no longer sounds like he’s creating Thrice B-Sides or odd church music.  He’s finally coming into his own… and it is beautiful. 

Thrice is a legendary post-hardcore band (that developed more of a straight rock sound towards the end) that has throngs of die-hard fans.  No one can blame their frontman, Dustin Kensrue, with having his first album, Please Come Home, feel like they could be slower Thrice tunes.  He was surrounded by that music, and the Thrice influence was obviously there.  His second album,  The Water and the Blood, had some excellent (and still Thrice-ish) tunes surrounded by some very mediocre praise and worship music.  Well, technically it was excellent praise and worship music… but average regular music… does that make any sense?

So, given his mixed back catalogue, I wasn’t sure what my favorite vocalist was going to produce. 

Luckily, it’s solid gold. 

He’s found his own voice.  It’s very Americana, but in an Earthy way.  It’s very natural and heartfelt.  The Thrice influence is less evident.  It still exists in tracks like “The Gallows”, which is ironically my favorite track, but you  also have incredible pieces like “There’s Something Dark Inside of Me”, which features a capo’d guitair, haunting and truthful vocals, and a harmonica-driven swell that never fails to give me goosebumps.  This is powerful stuff.

There are some songs that do not hit the mark for me.  “Death or Glory” gets too close to The Water and the Blood territory,  as well as “In the Darkness”.  These songs play back to back, and had me wondering if my media player accidentily started playing his praise and worship album in the middle of my listening experience. 

The album quickly gets back on track, with the strong “Of Crows and Crowns”.  This piano driven ballad that expresses yearning in a very real way, has a way of getting into my mind.

The thing that really gets to me, is this album feels like a love letter to his wife and God.  It feels like a man reaching out through sound to grab the hands of his wife and tell her that he loves her more than anything.  It’s something corny, like out of an 80’s movie, but here it feels so true.  He dedicates the album to “his Ruby”, which is his wife.  The very first song is named “Ruby”, and it feels as though he’s really singing the song for no one but her.  This is intimate stuff, and these emotions really pulled me into this album. 

I know what it’s like to have an incredible wife.  I often wish I could write a perfect song, a perfect melody, in order to have my wife know how much she means to me.  It’s the musician’s way.  This is the way he can express himself… and it’s so powerful because of that.  This isn’t just some pop music being made to make people “boogie”.  This is powerful… and so, so very human. 

It’s almost fitting to quote a lyric from one of Thrice’s early songs, and one of Dustin’s early forays into dealing with love…

“I want to write the perfect song, and play it just for you,  while you are tangled up in sleep”. 

Well, Dustin… you’ve finally done it… but you’ve allowed the whole world to hear it.   Thank you for that. 

- The Professor

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