If you could only choose one artist to listen to for the rest of your life, whom would you choose? I would choose Josh Garrels, and here is why.
First, the variety. Although Garrels is classified as a folk or hip-hop artist, his music is much more diverse than those two genres suggest. In Peace to All Who Enter Here, we find compelling hymns and classic praise songs. The nostalgia created by the song choices mixed Garrels rich voice truly does bring peace to those who listen. My favorite song from this album is “Steadfast,” but “In the Garden” is a close second!
Then, in Jacaranda and Lost Animals, we find more of that “folky” sound. These albums consist of reflective and personal songs about Garrels’ life, songs of celebration and remembrance, and songs declaring God’s awesomeness. From Jacaranda, I love the folk-meets-bluegrass sound that “Indiana Sky” brings to the album. Fun fact: the album’s title–Jacaranda–was inspired by his wife’s time in South America.
Garrels’ variety does not stop there. In Love & War & The Sea In Between, we find hip-hop and rap in “Resistance” and other songs featured in this album. Yet, “Farther Along” and “Ulysses” have an orchestral addition that creates a sense of wonder and hope.
The second reason that I would pick Garrels is because of his lyrics. Garrels is a songwriter that does not shy away from vulnerability or sensitive topics. While his lyrics reveal the depravity of humanity, he always weaves in God’s promises and sovereignty. In “Resistance,” he lays out the corruption present in our world:
“My rest is a weapon against the oppression
Of mans obsession to control things
Look at the long line of make believe kings
The lord of the flies want’s you to kiss his ring
Follow new rules with invisible strings
And become a puppet in the diabolical scheme.”
Garrels’ is also unafraid to share his life before he became a follower of Christ in “SISU”:
“I remember the sins of my youth, the path and the madness of unrestrained pleasure
The heavier trip it made the heavier debter
In the deepest of dark without a wing or a feather,
The spiral closed in like a cage, like a cage
A maze that’s amazing for days turns to rage if the page it refuses to turn.”
He then goes on to share his search for Christ:
“If there’s a God I screamed, ‘Answer me!’
I didn’t expect an answer to be received, He said
You must die, to be set free, living in the kingdom of God eternally
Open up my eyes so that I can see, and die with a cry revolutionary
Every man and woman is a witness, and we will never forget this.”
Garrels concludes with this declaration: “My God I am your son, and I know that you will finish the work that you’ve begun.”
Nearly every song written by Garrels contains a message worth paying attention to; there are bits of truth and revelation hidden within the lines of all his lyrics.
Lastly, I would pick Garrels because of his character and lifestyle. Garrels recently moved to a farm in Michigan with his wife, Michelle, and his five kids. He lives a Christ-centered, family-focused, and humble lifestyle, and this is reflected in his work. In fact, Garrels has avoided music labels and industries so that he can self-record and stay true to his distinguishing style and message. Garrels and his wife even hand-labeled the copies of their music for one of his albums, and he often gives out his albums for free.
Many Christian artists sing of trusting God and following Christ, but their lifestyles do not always reflect the truth that they proclaim. Garrels’ lives the biblical truth that he proclaims, and that is the main reason why I would answer the question at the beginning of this post with Josh Garrels.
Check out his website here: https://www.joshgarrels.com/
Check out “All Creatures”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnlG7-At0Ms