Musical Album of the Year 2012

Flying Colors: Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals), Dave LaRue (bass), Neal Morse (keyboards, vocals), Casey McPherson (lead vocals), and Steve Morse (guitar)

While we are already a couple of weeks into the new year, I thought it worthwhile to let you know what my favorite new album was for 2012. Now, this isn’t always an easy feat.  There is a lot of new, fantastic music in a year.  Neal Morse came out with a new album (as he does most years) and as is usual, I really enjoy it.  But if I was to always make Neal’s albums the album of the year, well, that just wouldn’t be any fun now would it?

But that shouldn’t stop me from choosing an album that has Neal Morse in it right?  Right.

My top musical album for the year then is a new group.  As described on Radiant Records: “It started with a simple idea: virtuoso musicians and a pop singer joining to make new-fashioned music the old-fashioned way. A band followed, evolving into Flying Colors”, and their only album at this time is of the same name.  Though thanks to the heavens they are collaborating on another album through the wonders of the internet.  It just won’t be produced as fast as the first one that was done with them all together in a couple of weeks.

To give it a free listen, check it out on GrooveShark: http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Flying+Colors/7535016 Here’s the track listing:

  1. Blue Ocean
  2. Shoulda Coulda Woulda
  3. Kayla
  4. The Storm
  5. Forever in a Daze
  6. Love Is What I’m Waiting For
  7. Everything Changes
  8. Better Than Walking Away
  9. All Falls Down
  10. Fool in My Heart
  11. Infinite Fire

In fact, I recommend playing the album right now, even before continuing to read.  You can read while you listen right?  At least get that introduction bass/drum beat in your head.  I’ve already discussed the lyrics of a couple of songs, and would like to go over a few more.  I will update the track listing above as I do that.  Those lyrical reviews should give you a deeper idea of lyrically why I like the album, besides what I briefly touch on here.  I’m able to personally see myself in those lyrics, as if they were singing to me.  Isn’t that what makes poetry beautiful?  Meaning in the eye of the listener?  It certainly does here.  In fact, it seems that much of the album is focused on a particular aspect of humanity, one that I love looking at in my own life.  Now, I could be way off and maybe these guys were just writing lyrics to some completely different idea.  I don’t know for sure, but I like my interpretation.  It gives me personal meaning.

So what’s that “particular aspect of humanity”?  I think it’s ‘meaning’.  That we all feel that there is more to this life than what we’ve done and what we’ve experienced.  I don’t just mean spiritually,  but emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually.  Blue Ocean sets the stage by informing us that time is slipping by, wonderful things are happening with or without us, and that we are crying out to take us with it.  To include us in the way things are meant to be, I don’t want to be part of the old world, but to be part of the new world.

Shoulda Coulda Woulda, just from the title following Blue Ocean one would think it can be read in the sense that we are seeing life going by while we are in the “sinkin’ sand”.  We want to give to the world, to help shape it and give it meaning, but instead I’ve “caved in to every impulse”.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda.  But you know what?  “Never again, no regrets”.  Let’s take the world by Storm.  Or rather, have the Storm take us as the song implies.  The Storm is a fantastic song, lyrically and musically.  It describes how are lives can be void without any storms.  Storms make us who we are, they stress us and build us.  Storms allow us to see the fragile areas in our lives and encourage or even force them to be repaired and made anti-fragile.  Robust.

Everything Changes can be read as referring back to the “Blue Ocean”.  We are hurt persons, emotionally and financially.  It’s easier to just crawl into our basement and hide, hide away from the changes from the world rushing by.  To be as if we “never we around”.  But what a horrible fate.  If this album is about meaning, then surely we can have meaning in this world.  In fact, the song is beckoning us to wade in to the blue, wade in to the changes in our lives and the lives of others.  “Now you’ve got nothing to lose” so “don’t leave ’til everything changes you”.  You can’t change the world unless you yourself are transformed by world-changing forces.  Everything Changes, you going to take part?

“Better Than Walking Away” describes the emotional, relational aspects of the pain we experience or give to others.  It implores us that the pain is better than walking away from it all.  Instead, “walk in and wait”.  Pain is one of the storms in this live that can change us, make us better.  Particularly if that pain is from relational issues; don’t walk away from the storm.  Let it change you.

Everything falls apart doesn’t it?  Nothing lasts forever.  It All Falls Down describes this.  but it also asks are you going to fall with it so that in its resurrection you can have and give meaning?  Are you going to “Lay down your lives or be slaves to a fool”?  Don’t put your treasure in foolish, temporal things, as “Where lies your treasure So shall you become”.  This notion is described all over the Bible.  Not to put your treasure in places where moth and rust will destroy.  Put them in Christ, in the source of meaning.  If that is the case, then “Where lies your treasure So shall you become When it all falls down”.

There is another line of meanings to much of these songs, one of love.  The songs I skipped in describing above are songs that seem to predominantly be on the Love theme.  Though Love obviously gives much meaning to our lives, in fact it is probably one of the only ways to receive meaning in our lives as well as giving meaning to others.  “Love is what I’m waiting for”.  It’s what we all are waiting for.  It is even the essence of the great commandments, the commandments that are to guide our whole lives.  These two related themes, are combined in the last song of the album, Infinite Fire.  The song is the longest song on the album by almost double and is a masterpiece musically.  I’m not a musician and so I have a hard time describing music, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable song if you let it life you and burn inside you.  Lyrically the song describes us as “A simple man, a single dream; to live and never falter”.  To live and to never falter, a simple, but not easy dream.  This man was “Back from the seas, he had to sail”.  He’s been in the Ocean, he’s seen the City of Glass and where the river meets the sea.  He’s seen meaning and experienced meaning.  He’s found love in both physical and spiritual terms.  He’s found a love that will be with him through the infinite fire of life and love.  He has had a positive effect in the world and been effected positively back through the fire of life.

“Seasons and times may take you over Lead you to places you would never go” May we all have such a story.

And that is why this is the album of the year.  It touches on the aspects that I truly desire and care about.  Meaning in this life and the next life, in life in the infinite sense.

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