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The Confluence of the Orchardist

When my kids were little we were talking at the dinner table about our favorite words. I remember Mrs. Roberts, my ninth grade English teacher, writing her favorite word, EDIFY, on the chalk board and regarding it with delight—its visual appeal, its meaning, the enjoyable way it rolls off the tongue—and from then on I kept watch for my own, personal favorite word. For the last several years it’s been CONFLUENCE. (Isn’t it just perfect?)

That’s the word that comes to mind when I listen to The Orchardist.

Imagine several rivers, one fed by C. S. Lewis, another by Nickel Creek, another by N. T. Wright, another by Caedmon’s Call, and another by Wendell Berry, all coming together in one dancing, laughing, passionate rush of music called The Orchardist. The instrumentation is pleasing and solid and tasteful, the lyrics are rich, the vocals and phrasing are spot-on (I’m a sucker for good phrasing)—and, perhaps most striking, there’s a masterful ebb and flow to the arrangements, a musical narrative arc that’s perfectly suited to what’s happening in the lyric.

Forgive me while I beat this river analogy into the ground: Tyler Rydosz’s mandolin hops like a wren along the riverbank; Camille Faulkner’s violin soars and dives like an osprey; Janie Townsend’s vocals are a white swan on the surface; and lead vocalist Drew Miller, who formed the band and wrote most of the lyrics, is like some Port William character in a canoe, riding the current and telling us with a wisdom beyond his years about what he sees. (That was exhausting, and I want to punch myself.)

But you get the picture, I hope, that this happy band from Nashville is something special. I love that these four songs are just the first part of three. I love that the cover looks like a Wes Anderson film. I love how lovely the lyrics are. I love how obvious it is that the band worked really hard on the arrangements and the recordings; there’s never a throwaway moment in these songs. I love that with every listen I hear more, delight more, am more impressed with the songwriting and musicianship. And I love that the confluence of all those influences I mentioned before leads me, most of all, to think about Jesus.

Friends, this is good music. Today is the official release of “act one” of the People, People project, and you get get it for a whopping $6 in the Rabbit Room Store. I hope you’ll support these guys, and most of all I hope you listen to this EP enough to realize how wonderful it is. And this is just part one.

(Here’s a video, just to whet your appetite. Keep your ears peeled for The Great Divorce.)


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