Annie Moses Band
Man Alive Records/Dream Journey Productions
On Pilgrims & Prodigals, the Annie Moses band (aka the Wolaver family) embarks on a journey covering an expanse of musical territory, with traditional favorites and fresh creativity. Themes and songs are drawn from an array of sources: great literature (“Progress” from Pilgrim’s Progress, “Catcher in the Rye,” from Salinger’s classic novel); musical history (“Poor, Wayfaring Pilgrim”); as well as pop charts, and the Wolavers’ imagination. There is classically shaded pop, pop-shaded folk, roots (blues/Celtic/Appalachian/jazz), and more—much of which is enveloped in a warm cascade of strings. Their current project is a double-disc set that includes the CD plus a companion DVD with live performance and additional tracks.
If modern rock is now the Christian mainstream then the Annie Moses band is the new alternative. This family of accomplished and classically trained, award-winning musicians (who play practically every stringed instrument used in an orchestra) offer up a full menu of road-ready fare for the pilgrim and prodigal in all of us.
Among the original songs, “Blush” a nostalgic and poetic look back to a time of innocence, gallantry, modesty, restraint, and faithfulness is as enveloping as a romance novel. Although it celebrates dignity, it isn’t long on reality, since as we know from reading the Bible and watching Downton Abbey, apparent innocence may be only skin deep. Fortunately, “Read Between the Lies” addresses the difference between what is seen and what actually is. There is a cover of Jim Croce’s “I’ve Got a Name,” and Elton John’s “Love Song”—the latter when listened to in the context of faith shimmers with meaning.
The most deeply affecting song is “My Room,” a dreamy landscape of a story—with fantasy strings—conjuring up visions of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, fairies, and heaven. Annie is the perfect Disney heroine on this song. Without question, the absolutely ideal support for a sermon on heaven or program end for a funeral: comforting, beautiful, hopeful and catalyzing emotion (Jn 14:1-3). In the same uplifting vein is the story of Annie Moses, the band’s namesake and inspiration, “Love’s Legacy,” reminding us all that wherever we find ourselves, there is a legacy of love that brought us to this place.
More: The moan of the violin, twinkle of the mandolin and sweet harmonies on “Girl of Constant Sorrow” (though not sure why it’s “girl” and not woman) are exquisite and endlessly listenable. The detailed and poetic storytelling is an art that has gone the way of the Bride’s blush and is always welcome.
Less: Although this is intrinsic to who the members of Annie Moses Band are as consummate artists, just once in awhile, it would be nice to hear fingers move across strings, a breath or catch in the voice, a raw uncharted emotion.