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July 8, 2009

A beautiful, poignant, and believable work of art
Review: Jeremy & Rebecca - What We Leave Behind
Independent Music Reviewer
Julian Gorman

Before we start the review, I have to be honest and attempt to pull the proverbial plank out of my eye to give this album the respect it deserves. I have problems with faith. Not mine really, as much as the professors and proffers thereof. My family skipped around different styles of Christianity throughout my life, many times getting swallowed up into various schemes in the name of God. So for me, faith is something that also must be protected, as much as expressed. Call me a doubting Thomas, but I need that sort of truth as confirmation of faith because my trust was abused.

For me, those who are really in touch with spirituality show it; happiness, joy, truth, and above all love, the providence of all their belief shines through naturally. I enjoy a good spiritual, but it has to be from the soul. Most religiously inspired art irks me as allegorical, crossing the line of acceptability when the ends begin to justify the means, or in other words, sinning to stop sin.

So when I get an album dealing with this sort of content matter, it walks a knife's edge. Indeed, it is easier for an out-of-tune tarnished indie punk band to get a good review out of me then a well polished, perfectly produced faith band. My standards for keeping with positive moral, as well as showing the true pain of those that still suffer, are even higher for bands with a mission to help others, for I expect well thought out modern hopeful solutions for ancient problems. If this is unfair, in this critic's opinion, leave your despair at the door, we only have time for real faith. Taoist sage Wei Po-yang once said "Worry is preposterous; we don't know enough to worry." That, precisely, is my problem with most recent spiritual expression, especially in the lyrics and attitudes of bands.

Having said all that, examined my conscious, Jeremy and Rebecca are a fresh breath of air to the stagnant swamp of worry that now seems to pollute popular music. What We Leave Behind is a beautiful, poignant, and believable work of art balanced in the physical and spiritual world, offering a clear point of view about how to live by love and faith as ways of life. Whereas many would use these virtues as a mask to parade around in, these two have found a love that makes them fearless in their exploration of music genre fusion, as well as practical advice, be it for the common sinner like myself, or for the pilgrim on the path to salvation, the album is friendly and helpful without ever becoming preachy, or striking us with guilt. To the contrary, the listener is empowered with positive potential.

Listening to How I Love You my mind drifts to my love in the next room, reminding me that the special moments are firmly embedded in the mystery, and that the mystery is all around. The mundane is what can be made magic in a moment if you but recognize the chance for providence to occur. It won't happen if you believe it can't!

The song Miracle bluntly puts you in your place and is exactly what I'm blathering on about at the top of the article. The miracle is the message, the song, the creation, and it actually exists. You can go touch the flesh of all creation right now. Breathe and you taste the breath of infinity, connected to all of us and everything, and no matter what you call it, a miracle is still miraculous by any other name. With all this analytical spiritual soul searching, it is almost heart-wrenching when Jeremy will stop to ask something like "And why on earth are there so many stars?" The childlike innocence of perspective is never lost, the ego always given to the mystery of creation. Faith isn't about disproving the mystery, it is about embracing the life you were given and making the best of it.

My favorite thing about Jeremy and Rebecca is that even though they talk passionately about their faith, the mystery is left to you, the way you find to utilize their advice is entirely applicable and never allegorical, therefore accessible to anyone who still "believes" from any background, religious preferences aside. Great music always prevails.

I can't find a single wrong note on the album. Every aspect, every musician, every bit of production is impeccable. It is difficult to believe that this is essentially a grassroots operation, but it just goes to show the power of belief. Carl Marsh does some especially beautiful conducting and composing of the strings, building Jeremy and Rebecca's sound to an epic, even cinematic level of intensity. Expect to visit each popular genre at least a couple times over the course of the album, from rock to country.

Despite the culturally heightened awareness for musical style, the album is classic in taste, yet unique in that certain rules are deconstructed only to be remade in brave cadences, bluesy interludes, mini-lead guitar solos, and little touches that trick you into thinking you've heard a phrase before, but then it's turned inside out for a while to shake us up, returning to elegant resolutions.

Have You Got the Time feels like it's right out of 40s, brushed drumming and all, Rebecca's voice seems to be able to time-travel effortlessly, giving us graceful soaring melodies with delicate cadentia that almost feels operatic. From smooth as silk jazz to wailing blues, the title track off the album is a hard hitting duo that you just can't find anywhere else, perfectly in harmony.

The true irony of What We Left Behind is in what Jeremy and Rebecca salvage for those who will later hear and be inspired, conscious of how their songs will continue to resonate, left behind yet always a part of the divine. I will now leave you with one of the most brilliant questions I've heard in a long while... "Will we be the ones with courage enough to leave this world better then when we arrived?"