April 13, 2003

Half-Handed Cloud "We Haven't Just Been Told, We Have Been Loved"

I wish there were more Christian artists like this. Christians making music of praise and worship without ever sounding like Christian Music. I just don't think that the bland, boring sounds that pass of as praise music really helps things, as it seems so just not very inspiring to me. Give me Damien Jurado's life-lessons, Danielson Familie's weirdness, and Absinthe Blind's inspiring melody--and keep your bland, boring 80's hairdo and sincere-sounding music away from me, please.

Then there's Half-Handed Cloud, who is one very happy, very loved boy, John Ringhofer. Since he's on Sounds Familyre, the label run by Danielson Famile mastermind Daniel Smith, it should be understood that the music is, at the very least, going to be interesting. As you'd expect, We Haven't Just Been Told, We Have Been Loved is a really odd listening experience. The music is lo-fi, shambly, rough, and downright FUN. Don't ask me to tell you which song I like best--with twenty-four songs in thirty-four minutes, they're all good, they're all fast, and they all work together in making a cohesive, wonderful-sounding whole.(I can't really tell some of the other song titles, though, as the font can be quite difficult to read.) I'm most enthralled, though, with "Dear John." Beauty and truth never sounded so nice.

Simply because it's odd, though, doesn't mean you should dismiss them or their message. While you won't find any Christian group that doesn't reference "make a joyful noise unto the Lord, you'll rarely find a band that actually MAKES a joyful noise. If Half-Handed Cloud is anything, though, it's joyful. You'll hear a big smile on Ringhofer's face whenever he sings, and you can feel the salvation in his heart. I've rarely heard a Chrisitan group sound so, so--inspired and blessed in their salvation. There's no talk of sin, despair, or hell here--it's all about the Love of Christ, and the joy He gives you if you believe in him. This is innocent, simple, and loving music, and We Haven't Just Been Told, We Have Been Loved is the sound of a boy in love with a God who loves him--and us--back.

--Joseph Kyle

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