During the time that all this Blue Like Jazz Kickstarter stuff was going on, Uncle Phil, who is (maybe confusingly if you don’t know the story) my actual uncle and the “reason” Uncle Steve is my “uncle,” was working on his own project. He was getting frustrated with conservative Christian political rhetoric and had recently started touring with Emmylou Harris and the Red Dirt Boys, and he had this idea of creating a collaborative album which focused on the love of God for all. Evidently at least a few other musicians had a similar hankering, because at least from this vantage point, it doesn’t seem like he had any trouble finding contributors and coming up with quite an illustrious line-up. Inspired, in part, I think, by the success of Blue Like Jazz‘s Kickstarter foray, he put Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us on there, too, and suddenly I’m a two-time official patron of the arts. (The fact that this is even possible is somewhat mind-boggling–and also a little comical–to me.)
This project is less definitively a “Christian” one than the aforementioned movie. Neither all (any of?) the actors in the movie nor all the musicians on Uncle Phil’s CD are professing Christians, but it seems like music about faith which is not specifically “CCM” has been around longer, so it doesn’t feel like it has to try so hard just to be music, the way so far movies made by Christians have to try just to be movies.
I’m going to hazard a guess and say that Uncle Phil’s approach to the whole God thing is not only a little more universalist than mine, but also than Uncle Steve and Donald Miller’s. (Although I’m not positive about that last part.) Still, I love this CD. I’m not really one of those people who can talk intelligently about music, but in my opinion, musically, it’s fantastic. Lyrically, it’s beautiful and/or thought-provoking. And I think at base, both the aforementioned movie and the CD, releasing within about a week of each other, are kind of about the same thing. They’re about not demonising, and reminding that, as Shawn Mullins sings in the album’s “Give God the Blues,” “God’s gone fishing for the soul of every man.”