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Christian Music Realm

David Åhlén

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Swedish singer-songwriter David Ahlen’s delicate hymns are unique in the Christian music realm, resembling the minimalist indie of Bon Iver or Sun Kil Moon more than David Crowder or Casting Crowns. When ImageUpdate reviewed his full-length album, We Sprout in Thy Soil, last year, we called his music “songs for the prayer closet, not the public square”—and his latest release, New Jerusalem, echoes this description. This four-song EP, released earlier this month from thehourislate, is haunting, never hook-laden. A number of additional musicians (many sharing the name Ahlen) contributed to the album, but the resulting songs are as minimalistic as a Japanese garden. The eerily melodic title track is the most memorable piece at first listen—the arrangement of softly plucked guitar and cello, along with Ahlen’s plaintive falsetto, turns lyrics that could be bombastic (“There’s a wind blowing / it’s a new day / There’s a fire in our hearts / it’s a new way”) into a lullaby. Another track, “He Gives,” offers the gentlest of exhortations sung to two rhythmic notes of viola: “He pours out healing oil / it’s dripping from your hands / He gives / do receive / the word is in your mouth / just speak it out.” New Jerusalem may listen like an addendum to We Sprout in Thy Soil; but both albums offer a hand to hold in the dark, reminders of God’s love that never lapse into platitude—both are essential. / Image Journal (US)


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