Lift To Experience - The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads
Jul 12, 2020
CFCE 87.8 FM Weekly Genre : Christian Rock

If there is one "category of music" that has existed for several centuries and is still present today, it is of course the different "currents" of religious music. Moreover, when the term "religious music" is used, it is important to specify that it is music totally dedicated to "sacred words". Because in reality it is very easy to make the distinctions, because many songs/compositions today include words, positions and religious messages without being classified in the category of religion. With the CFCE team, we have been studying this week one of the relatively discreet religious sub-styles called Christian Rock. To say it's a musical style that is sometimes not officially recognized as such, often put in bulk in the category "Christian music". To put it in context, it is obviously difficult to locate a date or period when religious people or "artists" began to sing the music of their religions. In the end, one of the first things that comes to mind when we think of Christian music is very often the Gospel or the Hymn that comes first. These two "musical and religious currents" appeared unofficially in the 17th century and represent the traditional way of bringing one's faith to one's religion, essentially through the church.

In the 19th century, music has known its contemporary period, more access to entertainment and commercialization, which led religious music to adapt and metamorphose. In spite of a very large gap between the more authentic believers and the new generations, it is from the 50/60's that things changed, especially with what is nicknamed "the Jesus movement revival". During the 50s for example, many R&B and Rock n Roll artists were considered "unworthy" of religion, by their provocations and their lyrics, pointed out as the "music of the devil" by many believers. Eventually, although it took time, R&B and Rock n Roll became so popular that the Christian religion and churches adapted to accommodate "all believers". The emergence of "the Jesus movement revival" was the final blow, which not only triggered the so-called Contemporary Christian music style, but also later the Billboard charts and others dedicated to this musical category. Even if Christian Rock became official from the very end of the 60's, there are still a few dedicated albums that can be categorized without a shadow of a doubt in this style, such as the album Make a Joyful Noise With Drums and Guitars by the band The Crusaders released in 1966 or the St. Pius X Seminary Choir from 1967. It is actually thanks to Larry Norman that Christian Rock is recognized as such, breaking the divide that remains between conservative and "rock n roll".

Afterwards, Christian Rock experienced a more discreet period in the 80's, as if during the 70's Christian Rock had become a "trendy" music style, but in reality it was not until the 90's/2000 that Christian Rock experienced its most prolific and popular period. Among the best examples are Neal Morse, Jars of Clay, Project 86, Five Iron Frenzy, 2Tm2,3 or Lift To Experience with their very popular album The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads. Led by its leader, guitarist and singer Josh T. Pearson, Lift To Experience is a trio formed in 1996 in Denton, Texas that arrived in the middle of the Christian Rock boom. The band didn't stay together for long, leaving each other right after their one and only album, although today they've reformed just to perform. Unlike many other bands/artists of the same trend, Lift To Experience not only dedicates their music to their faith and religion, but also has a lot of love for their region and the music. This is shown through Christian Rock's most mythical album: The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, released in 2001. What is it that makes this one in particular remains the most mythical album of this musical style?

First of all The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads is a conceptual double album, separated in 2 parts "Texas" and "Jerusalem" which aims to place their region as "a promised land" according to the authors. Around words of faith, biblical, philosophical, symbolic, historical and even political, although the writing is very much inspired by religious references, all the songs are mainly composed by its leader Josh T. Pearson. And I have to say that even if I am as an analyst and passionate about music totally outside the subjects evoked (of which I will not go into details), Josh T. Pearson has a pleasant and talented writing, sometimes sprinkled with a humorous tone. Many other artists in this musical style simply connect and spread messages and religious references without really creating a narrative or interesting threads. Apart from the lyrical and spiritual content, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads is an album remarkably produced with the help of two members of the Cocteau Twins: Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie. Musically the album is not only solid, it is even divinely amazing. Very atmospheric, reminiscent of the cloudy indie rock of the 90s / early 2000s, reminiscent of bands like Spiritualized or Hum, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads is an indie rock album that has as much a foot in the land of Post-Rock as it does of Shoegaze. The album contains only 11 tracks, however it extends over 1h30, as the band Lift To Experience builds its songs by making them evolve (often approaching the structures of prog), offering a vibrant content, particularly emotional and lively. Josh T. Pearson doesn't have the most beautiful voice, nor the most efficient melodies of all time, but the songs and his spoken word that he offers are particularly seductive. Although it is a kind of "storytelling" thread, the only real flaw of the album is that it remains relatively long and hard to digest, but that's never really going to harm or detract from the album's qualities. Having listened to a handful of albums and studied Christian Rock before starting to analyze it, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads remains in my opinion very superior to other albums, which are often either too irregular or too access on faith and spirituality really depends on musical work and even less on innovation. Without revolutionizing anything, Lift To Experience has been able to offer an excellent album that combines all the main ideas we look for in Christian Rock, taking inspiration from the greatest Post-Rock, Shoegaze and Space Rock bands
Doublez's Tags
Jul 12, 2020
nice write-up!!! You should check out Josh T. Pearson's solo work sometime... His subtle (and also not so subtle) humor is good fun.
Jul 13, 2020
thanks a lot @dearsongs! I haven't listened to his solo projects yet but I think I'll have a look at them, because indeed he's an interesting and quite funny character
Jul 13, 2020
"The Straight Hits!" is somewhat similar to this material, and I personally enjoy it a lot more than what the critics thought of it... "Last of the Country Gentlemen" is good, but it was also an album about his separation from this ex-wife so its not a 'fun' album even though their is subtle bits of humor.
Jul 18, 2020
Sorry for the late answer, I took a little break.

You make me want to listen to his plans even more, can't wait to hear this! @dearsongs
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