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Jeremy Casella
[ faith & heartache ]

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FAITH & HEARTACHE (2003)
Faith & Heartache - Click to view! Songwriting and storytelling are inexplicably intertwined. When a person picks up a guitar and sings, he tells a story. It might be hard to discern, and it might not be a very good story; nevertheless, the words he is crafting have a tale to tell and a message to preach. Whether it's an emotional love song, a driving rock anthem, or a rising ballad, it's hard to escape "story" without losing all coherency.

Jeremy Casella is one who takes delight in his storytelling, even though Faith & Heartache isn't the most pleasant story he's ever told. Wrapped up within a package of tender music are tears and laughter, insecurity and assurance, loss and love. Is this a collection of sappy tunes and over-emotional lyrics? Far from it. The beauty of the music is not found in temporary emotions, but in the simplicity of life. Or, rather, the simple complications that fill our lives.

Beginning with questions and ending with some answers and more questions, Jeremy takes us on a journey that is comprised of faith. Throughout the pain of love ("Best Intentions"), the highs and lows of living ("Walking on Water"), and the death that precedes redemption ("Lazarus"), Jeremy's eyes rest on the Savior and Lord of all. "Speak and all my soul is peace," sings Jeremy on the opening track of the same name (an adaptation of the Charles Wesley hymn), setting a firm foundation on the One who holds us in the palm of His hand. Midway through the album, he uses another hymn to set the mood: Isaac Watts's "Hills of Light" raises our eyes from the grime of our trials and strengthens us with visions of our future reward. With this assurance, the tone of the album is more hopeful on "Place Your Bets" (an ode to starting over) and "Psalm 62" (a hand-clappy tune that takes strong faith in God's strength).

The final three songs present a trilogy for moving onwards. Intense but full of faith, "Not Forgotten" climbs up the hill towards the great mountain, knowing that we are always in the sight of the King. More contemplative is "The Purchase," a delicate tune that revels in the wonder of Christ's sacrifice, testifying that "I am not compelled to make it pleasing to the ear, for the value of the purchase is measured in the price." A final hymn adaptation, "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah," finishes off the album with its subtle power that resolves to charge steadily down the road and overcome any future trials.

You won't find many other albums that explore the hurt and pain that fill our lives with such honesty and thought. There is a fine line between the sterile scientific approach and the overly sentimental approach, yet Jeremy has hit that line straight on. Faith & Heartache is a comfort for those who are weary and long for rest. It provides encouragement for us when our eyes are downcast. "Weeping may endure through the night, but joy comes in the morning," the Psalmist wrote, and this album is a testimony to that. So go, look across the river, and bid your anxious fears subside. Your Father has promised to guide you, and His promises are sure.
- Jason Ewert
February 2003
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