A LANDMARK VOICE OF FAITH AND LOVE
All Prodigal Daughters And Sons
2015 / 10 Tracks / 30 minutes
The pragmatic dogmas of modern Christianity have the tendency to clothe us in uncomfortable ways. In fabulous, fabricated garments that stun the eye but irritate the skin. As Christians, we are mercilessly fed opposing fruits of the Spirit, of the Word, and of the narcissistic hedonism that fuels religious debate. And, over time, we pile on layers of hypocrisy and judgment until the fabric is forced up to our necks, over our mouths, and into the backs of our throats until we can no longer speak. Or breathe. Only then, when our burdens weigh like cement to our souls, when we see light-flashes from oxygen deprivation and near suffocation, do we guilt ourselves into shedding the dogmas that cripple us.
But shedding isn’t enough.
We need to burn them so they don’t return.
“All Prodigal Daughters And Sons”, the new spoken-word poetry album from Emily Joy, takes a match, waves it around, and then sets ablaze these false notions of our broken religion until we are left reeling. Stark and raw. Naked. Our ashen faith smoldering behind us. Our Jesus standing in front of us.
This is a landmark album. A priceless piece of art wrapped up in thirty minutes of raw emotion, reflection, provocation, and love.
“All Prodigal Daughters And Sons” opens with an intro by Micah J. Murray, a profoundly simple list of areas in which Christianity has been defaced over time: gender roles, denominations, social justice, eschatology, abortion, feminism, the nature of Jesus and God himself, among others. It’s a perfect tone-setter for what is to come.
The flawless production of “All Prodigal Daughters And Sons” perfectly pairs Emily Joy’s earnest vocals with a discordant blend of dissonant keys, cinematic post-rock, and subtle strings. Together they form a sonic forum for reflection, meditation, and introspection. Things get dark on “Monster god”, the most divisive and controversial track, with reverb-soaked vocals and horror film synths that Trent Reznor and David Fincher would be proud of. But the rest of the album is quietly, devastatingly beautiful.
Emily Joy spares no sect. She calls out doubters and idealists (“All Prodigal Daughters And Sons”), gender inequality in Purity Culture (“Thank God I’m A Virgin”), abusive ex-boyfriends (“The Last Poem”), selfish individualists (“Extraordinary”), God-fearers and distorters (“Monster god”), the Church and its people, material idolatry, and the depressed (“The closer you get to suicide, the more Christlike, right?”), but does so in ways that are smart and captivating.
But, this is not a religious or political protest record. Underneath, it’s not even an angry record. Emotional peaks are met equally with moments of tenderness. Emily Joy doesn’t want us to pump our fists in the air and shout. Instead, she wants to break us with her imagery and help piece us back together, properly, until whole.
Every poem on this record screams to be dissected and discussed at length. The finale, “Everything Must Burn”, should be front and center. The opening line begins, “Somewhere between talking my best friend back from the edge of suicide and the last church service I stood up and walked out of… ” and sparks a journey of questioning the very nature of God and what Christians have come to believe He wants from us. She finally reaches a confession: “I can’t believe in nothing. No matter how hard I’ve tried.” And then: “So, burn me to the ground until my ashes become ashes and blow away in the wind of Your breath when You whisper, “Behold. I am making all things new.” If You ask me, “Did you lose your faith?’ I will tell you ‘No, I did not lose it’. ‘It burned. Right. Up.'”
Emily Joy wants us to love. Not superficially – read, not humanly – but profoundly, without predication, like our Creator loves us. Emily Joy is a revelation. A voice that we all need to hear. “All Prodigal Daughters And Sons” is an essential album that Christians and non-Christians alike need to experience.
Live it. Breathe It.
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