Friday, December 02, 2011


     Supporters of the prosperity gospel who believe that all is well all the time will have a bone to pick with Carolyn Arends' 2006 project POLLYANNA'S ATTIC (2B Records).  She writes that the songs on it are: "all in some way about a dissatisfaction I hope I can accurately call a Holy Discontent." 
     The CD begins with the peppy 'Just Pretending' co-written with Spencer Capier.  It comments on the rat race that is life: "Family full of achievers/Beat the Jones and be the Cleavers/Give the lawn a manicure/No rough edges, that's for sure/Sunday the whole congregation/Doesn't seem to need salvation/Everybody's just terrific/All the time (2X)/Why do we try so hard?/Life's not some greeting card/Models and movie stars/They're just pretending (2X)."  'Something to Give' is bouncy, utilizes the trumpet, and spurs the listener on to live a meaningful life:  "Hey you, with the time why don't you spend it?/If you've got a dime why don't you lend it?/If you've got hands then get them reaching out/If you've got feet then get up off the couch/There's nothing so rude/As a gift you don't use/Or a life that you choose not to live/'Cause you're blessed to bless/And the best of possessions is/Having something to give."  'What in the World' written with Connie Harrington, reflects on our sinful nature: "Today I woke to my alarm/Just like I did the day before/I stretched and put the coffee on/I kissed my baby out the door/Then as he turned to wave goodbye/I said some petty thing/I saw the light in his eyes die/It left me wondering/What darkness hides within this heart of mine?/Why do I do what I despise?"  'The Wasteland' contains the promise of God overcoming the evil done by the human race, and has a stripped down feel to it: "You can give us Your justice but we'll only defy it/You can send us salvation but we'll just crucify it/Still You rise from the ruins and You promise us a day/When You'll lead us away/From the wasteland."
     'Land of the Living (Psalms 27:13)' is a beautiful ballad about going through a spiritual winter of barrenness: "I know I'm not the first soul/To find myself lost in the night/But it's so long and dark, I'm not sure that my heart/Can survive/Still I've got no choice but to wait/And cling to this last bit of rope/It's the promise that You made me not to leave me or forsake me/So here I am hoping that hope."  'To See Your Face' is a moving ballad by the late Mark Heard: "Lord, You know I need Your love so bad/I hardly even have the strength/To take Your hand/If I ever get to see Your face/If You will spare me/I know that my allegiance to the human race/Will not ensnare me."  'Everybody wants Everything' is groove heavy and prescribes a cure for the ills of modern society: "Everybody wants to get ahead of the rat race/Find ourselves in a better place/Can't we see it's such a waste/All we need is just one taste/Of amazing grace/Everybody wants everything."  'More is Less' sounds laid back, but finds Arends cynical and jaded: "We've got food that makes you hungry/Drink that makes you sick/We've got cars that go in circles/Real nice clothes that do not fit/Here the money makes you paranoid/There's no one you can trust/The sex will leave you lonely/And the love all turns to rust."
     'Free' is written solely by Arends, as are the following two tracks, and has disillusionment as its theme: "Can't see the forest for the skyscraper/Locked in a cold war with the sun/Which one will kill us: hate or indifference?/Tell me has all the killing been done?/Well I don't know why I'm asking/'Cause I'm well aware/That while we're free to wonder/We're more free not to care" and "Well we're so full of freedom that we may just well/Split down the middle like the Liberty Bell/There's just too many lies we're too free to tell/We're all free to die, we're free to go to hell."  'No Trespassing' paints a dismal picture of our day and age: "'Cause you can't go near/Anybody else's private ground/See folks 'round here/Have got a democratic right to drown/And you're just a fool/If you care about the faces in the crowd/Got a new edition of the Golden Rule:/No trespassing allowed."  Layton Howerton sings with Arends on 'Not Alone', a song that offers encouragement: "There's a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with our grief/And He's done His share of crying in the night with no relief/And there isn't any heartache that He has not known/So we are not alone" and "Well, there's no use in pretending, some things just don't make sense/And there isn't any justice, at least not yet/In a while we will remember this is not our home/Cause we are not alone, no/We are not alone."  'I've Got a Hope' penned by Eric Fiedor and Pierce Pettis in 2000, appropriately ends the album on a hopeful note: "Lest I should stumble/I try not to forget/That every hair is numbered/Every footstep, every breath/And this life that I'm living/It will not end in death/I've got a hope/That is not in this world."
     POLLYANNA'S ATTIC benefits greatly from the musical talents of Spencer Capier (acoustic and electric guitars, bouzouki, violin and backing vocals) and Roy Salmond (organ, lap steel, Wurlitzer piano, all manner of percussion, backing vocals).  It is an honest, artistic look at faith and doubt, questions and answers.  I'm rating it 82% and recommending it to fans of the soft rock and light pop sounds of Jann Arden, Sheryl Crow, and the more recent projects of Amy Grant.  For more info visit and  The CD booklet contains a beautiful picture of Carolyn, eyes closed, head tilted downwards, and guitar strapped on.