Don't Do Anything
- Monday, August 04, 2008
Even if that perfect redeeming love exists only in the heavens, its ramifications are felt right here on Earth. The brief closing number, "Watching Out of this World," finds Phillips looking past her grief, searching beyond the temporal trappings of this life to the promise of the next. It's an echo of the sentiment that closed her last album in a song called "One Day Late"—a reminder that God's help is real, but his deliverance will not be on human terms. Patience and trust are vital.
Which is not to say that there's a Gnostic-style rejection of this present age; Phillips finds hope not just in heaven, but even in flashes of God's grace right here on Earth. Art and beauty become the vessels through which God communicates his love, and through which the artist herself finds order in the midst of chaos. What do you do with a broken and betrayed heart? Well, "you write another song," she tells us. Later in the album, music is celebrated in the glorious "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," a song that reminds us that even the beauty of art can point us to lasting, divine truths. And even the pain and suffering of this world are used by God to mold us and conform us; in "Shake it Down," a cantankerous little groove that sounds like it crawled out of Tom Waits' junkyard, Phillips wryly paints grief and anguish as means through which God cultivates in us a trusting dependence on him.
It's no surprise Phillips lists "making order out of chaos" as her favorite hobby in her official bio, even if, as she wryly notes, it doesn't often work. Her music does something even better: It bears honest, painful witness to the truths of this world's darkness, but also reminds us of the light that never goes out.
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