One of my all-time favorite record labels of the indie Christian scene was Blonde Vinyl. Run by Michael Knott (LSU/Lifesavers, and about a dozen others), it was one of the first truly indie, truly alternative record labels focusing on Christian artists. Knott never got rich off of the sales. (A few years later, Brandon Ebel would show us how to make a Christian indie label financially profitable.) Furthermore, not all of the releases on Blonde Vinyl were even that great–I won’t name any names–but all of them were charming in some way.
However, Grieve by relatively unknown Sincerely Paul was one of the greats. It’s probably the best goth release in the Christian market that isn’t by Dead Artist Syndrome or Saviour Machine. And where SM’s emphasis was always on the dramatic, focusing on the end times and vivid imagery, Sincerely Paul danced in subtleties, turning the dramatic tendencies inward, towards introspection, and even an unusual but effective focus on clinical psychology.
Grieve is essentially a concept album, focusing on the pain of past traumas. While it might seem like old hat these days to talk about trauma and abuse, in the early 90s, the idea of dedicating a whole album to the topic was revolutionary. This was in the days before words like “deconstruction” were so commonplace. Sincerely Paul encouraged listeners to bring their grief to the Lord, rather than hiding behind it under a false sense of positivity.
These days I hear a lot of talk about albums that sounded good when they were released, but didn’t “hold up” over time. This album did the opposite. It sounds better year after year, and the lyrical topics were way ahead of their time. Check out “Nineteen Years” and let me know what you think. Grieve was re-issued in 2009 by the band (who by that point had changed their name to Slide), as a 2-disc set. Disc one was the original album re-mastered, and with new artwork. Disc 2 was a whole disc full of bonus material.
*Special thanks to Matt Crosslin at knottheads.com for the image.