My friend David Browne just consummated his latest musical project with a loving embrace of grace.
Beneath a canopy of powerfully eternal security, he and Patty had established a home base in our promised land many years ago. From that sacred place of intmacy, they were able to raise up a crop of fine young’uns, even as David persevered in the development of his God-ordained musical gifts. Together, the musician and his proverbs 31 bride smashed the glasses of postmodern musical conventionality, which dictates that musicians must confound their lives with exhaustive tours and frantic pursuits of musical success.
But not David. From a quiet place of intimacy with our Creator, D. Browne has been enabled, over the years, to fulfill multiple responsibilities as husband, father, businessman and good citizen; but he managed this legacy of faithful works while composing and recording a prodigious collection of original music.
Reminds me of J.S. Bach.
David Browne’s life does parallel Bach; both have that sort of German knack for exquisite musical precision, although David displays his percussionist heart in a decidedly Abrahamic framework. You may even detect a mezuzah hung somewhere in his mezzo-tenored doorway. But as I was saying, the grand master Bach had managed, about three centuries ago, to glorify God in an intricately constructive way without losing sight of what is truly precious in this life.
As Johann had labored long ago at his clanky harpsichord or on some cloistered organ, so David, in our times, caresses and thumps out a toccata of masterful sound in his garage-top studio near the Atlantic Ocean in North Carolina. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring gets a funky new rendering a few hundred years after the original.
Listening to the new cd, A Place I Go, is for me a little like opening some hobbit hole of contemporary Christian musical passion. Then this awesomely productive audio entity comes leaping out at you in a sound that’s thick with warm, furry layers of complex virtuosity. I think the den of unique creativity in which David’s labor of love began must have been hallowed out, originally, somewhere near that mountaintop lane–the one pictured in his cover photo. A swaddled child–one of the Browne kids–is seen in the pic going to that place where David goes, a place where he has wisely taken his wife and children. He will take you there too, if you’ll give him a listen.
That place is a place of holy intimacy with the God who created us– the Yahweh of Abraham, Elohim of Isaac, the El Shaddai of Jacob, whose Son was given as the Word made flesh, nailed to a cross and then resurrected, although David never actually mentions, in his tender dynamism, the name of Jesus. But you get the message. You know who he’s singin’ about–the One who walks with us closer than a brother.
A Place I Go is a sacrificial offering sent forth from the most holy place of profound grace. From his abode of redemption, the artist sends up a smoky thickness of rock-driven conviction, punctuated with delicate piano and smooth acoustic interludes. He even tosses in a dash of rap on “A Better Way,” and a smattering of scatty electro-phased vocal, propelled by retrofuture cultural relativity funk on “When I think of you.” My favorite is “Promised Land,” which sojourns on the “ancient steps” upon which our great faith is founded.
Check out David’s new labor of love; he is a unique composer with an expressive gift, and an intense love for our Creator. He is, however, meshugginah.