With poetic lyrics, soothing vocals, and iconoclast instrumentation, “Albertine” proves to be more than just some pretty girls attempt at music. On the radio and MySpace, the kids “cool” enough to wear their hair in their faces while strumming acoustic guitars seem to be the closest to reality the music industry gets. This presumption is heightened when they are compared to the all-too-unrealistic glam pop of mass airwaves. Their images suggest that they might be deep but all they tend to offer are sappy relationship songs, two liners, and little else more. Sure, the “indie” thing is hot right now but how many people are truly sitting on their floors grasping music as a tool that can help and heal for generations to come. Or has everyone forgotten that music can do that? For one second, if you can forget all you’ve heard about Nylon magazine and MTV, you could realize there’s more to everyone than such strict definitions.
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Brooke Fraser is quite different from all the gloss. And yes, an artist’s inner being DOES indeed affect the music flowing from within them. I’m not attesting that her personal character is perfect but, instead, that she has grasped, even musically, that she is not. And she has understood that it is not about being perfect, looking, sounding and acting as others would have you to but giving ones gift up to genuine honesty. From the title song “Albertine” which speaks of her personal responsibility to acknowledge the poverty sticking so many in a post war Africa, she sets a tone of compassion not guilt. She speaks of a young woman she met in African named Albertine, spilling, “And on a distant hill/I think of Albertine/There in her eyes what I don’t’ see/With my own/Rwanda.” The urge isn’t to donate out of guilt but to take an attitude of compassion for those around you no matter whom it might be.
It’s also in songs like “Shadowfeet” that we get a glimpse of her soul. She is not religious. If a person will forget every slandering thing they’ve been told about Christianity in the mass media and by lying politicians, if they will stop categorizing music into dehumanizing genres, and will just listen to lyrics like, “When the world is falling out from under me/I’ll be found in You still standing/When the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees/When time and space are through/I’ll be found in you” it is simple to see Brooke Fraser knows a special, loving God who has personally challenged and changed her life. This is not what many will label “Christian music” it is a person’s poetically charged heart speaking to a living God she loves and is loved by. She is not putting on a face of perfection but brokenness and saying that even though she is broken she has found hope. This also spills through in the song “Hosea’s Wife” where she speaks of the emotional traumas a person experiences when they a searching and wandering as she once was, “I see the scars of searches everywhere I go/From hearts to wars to literature to radio/There’s a question like a shame no one will show/What to I live for?”
Brooke Fraser, at just 22 years old, has grasped the fact that herworth goes beyond the mass produced images and ideas of the world. She had grown spiritually into a young woman who understands the heart of faith, brokenness, and being the anti hypocrite in a world filled with trickery. She is special. And here’s one glistening secret hiding in this music: so are you!