Album Review :
Soul-Junk - 1959

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Artist: Soul-Junk
Album: 1959
Label: Quiver Society
Release Date: April 15, 2007
Review by: Eric Pettersson

1. Psalm 1
2. Psalm 2
…you get the idea…
22. Psalm 22
23. Psalm 23

By a show of hands, who knew that Soul-Junk still existed? Apparently, this project has been around for a long time and is still going strong. Soul-Junk is arguably best known for 1956, which was released on 5 Minute Walk Records (Five Iron Frenzy, The W’s, Philmore). From that album came the song “Ill-m-I,” which Toby Mac covered on his second solo record, Diverse City. But Soul-Junk is, and always has been, much more than this. Beginning fourteen years ago, each released has been named after a successive year, starting with 1950, and all EPs and other special projects work backwards from 1949 and so forth. While stylistic changes have occurred, the main feel of Soul-Junk has been a constant. Now, after a few years of silence, comes 1959, a release that comes with a very special idea behind it. These 23 tracks are the first 23 psalms. They are taken word for word from the scriptures (Don’t ask me what translation; I didn’t bother to check that out because I decided it didn’t really matter. All I can tell you is that it’s not King James Version or The Message.) and set to music as only the members of Soul-Junk could set them.

Here is my sad attempt at describing the music found in these tracks: alternative hip hop that appeals to the obscure (very obscure) indie crowd with weird noises and occasional post-grunge guitar riffs and vocals that switch from rapped to awkwardly sung. And also, you’re drunk. It’s quite a mish mash, which can be taken as awesome or confusing, really cool or really annoying. For me, it depends on my mood. A few tracks (Psalm 17 especially) I cannot stand and have to skip, but many create a unique musical feel that draw you in and make you listen closer to all that is going on (Psalm 7, 2, 10, 22 and others). Lyrically, a lot of important, beautiful, deep, and powerful imagery is used to present equally important, beautiful, deep, and powerful thoughts and ideas, which comes as no surprise at all since these lyrics are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). The problem comes in the literal translation of Hebrew poetry and song into English poetry and now into English song. There are no rhymes left, which make some of the songs a little rough on the ear, but if one can get beyond an expectation of rhymes within rap, this could be a great listen that is both musically enjoyable and very spiritually uplifting.

While other musicians have set scripture to music since scripture was written, I have never seen an entire album that is taken so directly word-for-word out of the Bible, not even one out of Psalms like this. It was a unique and worthy venture, one that Soul-Junk tackled to the best of their abilities, I’m sure. This is not them at their catchiest, or even them at their strangest, but it is a project based on a great idea, one that I respect and for the most part can appreciate and enjoy.


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