Archive for September 24th, 2010

Brotherly love

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the release of Joe Banua’s debut EP, “Broken” with about 1200 other folks at my church. Since then, I’ve been listening to it quite a bit in my iPod rotation, and I am constantly moved by the depth and passion of it.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve known Joe for the past five years or so, and have had the pleasure of playing with him on the Sunday-morning worship team for much of that time. He’s an incredibly talented guy (he is able to play most every instrument we use in our worship services – and do so quite well), and his heart for the Lord and serving him with music is incredible. So it was totally incredible when an anonymous donor offered to fund the production of a professional EP for Joe, which he is now able to take with him during the week while he tours (and which has gotten a good bit of local radio play time).

In choosing the songs for the album, Joe first put together some quality acoustic recordings of ten or so of his songs, which he invited his friends & family to vote on, for inclusion in the EP. While there was one I was rooting for that didn’t make it (”Yeshua”), the ones chosen were quite good:

“Bring You Glory” – The first song released to Christian radio stations in the area, Bring You Glory is stylistically similar to Chris Tomlin’s recent worship songs, and is incredibly solid (and catchy). In all honesty, of the songs selected for the EP, Bring You Glory had been one of my least favorite from the acoustic set (as an acoustic song), but its translation to the studio reminds me of the difference between Rich Mullins’ acoustic demo for My Deliverer and its posthumous studio production.

“You Are Holy” – Not to be mistaken w/ Marc Imboden’s song of the same title (and the odd coincidence of knowing Marc, who lives about 15 minutes away), You Are Holy is a sweet interlude that always reminds me of the meditative time spent in our weekly Communion services.

“Broken” – From a songwriting standpoint, Broken is the best song on the album, and probably my favorite (though the last track is neck-and-neck with it). Broken explores Jesus’ love and healing, particularly focused on the broken and downtrodden.

These are the hands that were nailed to the cross,
These are the feet that run to the lost,
These are the arms that wrap around those who are broken.

These are the eyes that see through our sin,
Whatever we’ve done, wherever we’ve been,
These are the lips that speak to the hearts of the broken…

Broken could very well have been produced as more of an acoustic-feel track and been ever stronger than the full studio treatment (similar example: Rich Mullins’ acoustic demos of Elijah were more timeless than the pop-style production of Reed Arvin), but even so it is an incredibly powerful song that truly deserved to be the title track of the album.

“Never Failed Me” – Joe’s exploration of the concept of God’s grace and our response to it, Never Failed Me speaks to God’s unfailing mercy, in a catchy, but laid-back, Southern Rock style.

“Feet of the Nations” – Probably the song that changed the least between the acoustic recording and the studio album, the polish provided in the professional recording takes a great song and makes it incredible. An examination of the common, every-day love of serving our neighbors, Joe brought tears to the eyes of a lot of folks when he first played this song last year in our sermon series on loving one’s neighbor. Interestingly, this song was written in less than a week, but lyrically is amazingly both tight and raw the emotion it brings across.

Dark and lonely, breathing slowly,
He’ll drift and fall asleep.
Wishing only for a hand to hold,
So he can finally leave.

Just another beating heart for him to feel,
Just another comforting voice for him to hear,

I will fall to my knees,
Down at his feet,
For the Lord has first loved me.
As the water flows down,
Oh that beautiful sound,
All the dirt, it is washed away.
And I give up my pride and let it be taken,
So I can wash the feet of the nations…

Broken is an incredibly powerful and moving album which I hope you will enjoy as much as I have. You can give a listen to some of it at his website here, or you can download the whole thing from iTunes.

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