I don’t listen to music very much. When I am driving, I prefer podcasts and talk radio because I like to engage ideas and argue—yes, I argue with the car radio. I certainly don’t make a habit of going to concerts, but I was very excited about a concert last September at St. Andrews  in Vancouver. Among the sold out crowd, I was delighted to see many former students who obviously have very good taste in music. The main act was Josh Garrels.

I was first introduced to Josh Garrels at a New Year’s Eve gathering. The music playing behind a room full of conversations and it intrigued me. Even over the laughter and talk I could tell that this music was wonderful, so I asked the host, “Who is this?”  

“It’s Josh Garrels,” he said.

The next day I downloaded his most recent album—for free! 

It is called Love and War and the Sea in Between. I laid on the couch and listened to the whole thing all the way through. I loved it! I found it brilliant musically; after all, it was the music that I found so wonderful the night before. I was delighted to find Garrels’ songs were equally beautiful lyrically. They are intelligent but also poetic. He avoids cliché; and the ideas are not simplistic. The words can mean one thing to you one day and two months later, they mean something else.

I was interested to learn a little more about this incredible musician so I did a quick internet search. I was shocked to find out that I had just downloaded Christianity Todays’ Album of the Year for 2011. I was surprised and delighted that this music I loved so much was created by a Christian. When you listen to it a second time there is no doubt that he’s a Christian artist.

Perhaps it was his faith that prompted him to give away the album I had just downloaded—apparently he has given away well over 160,000 downloads. He gave downloaders an opportunity to “tip.” All these proceeds, over $70,000, went to a relief project  in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I think he will be blessed by his “first fruits” offering because there are a lot of people like me who downloaded the album when it was free, then bought his older albums and now eagerly await his next one.

I like Josh Garrels because he gives away albums and money. I love his lyrics because they are good and true and beautiful, honestly exploring love and loss and guilt and Grace and the mystery between. And I love Josh Garrels’ music.