Artist: Sara Groves
Album: Tell Me What You Know
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Many say that as you grow older, your work never compares to the new arising talent all around; and once you hit thirty, you’ve past the "prime" of your life. Yet, for Minneapolis singer-songwriter Sara Groves, the complete opposite is true. In fact, looking at her most recent offering, it seems as though she has just begun.
Picking up from where she left off with her last album, Add to the Beauty, Sara Groves is back with her fifth label release, Tell Me What You Know; and once again, taking simple words and giving them brand-new life, depth, and meaning, this prolific writer releases one of her best pieces of work to date.
Largely based upon recounted memories of a recent trip to Rwanda, much of the lyrical content in this album speaks of hope in darkness, victory in spite of past defeat, and love in the space of a place once ruled with hate. In songs such as "I Saw What I Saw" and "When the Saints," the lyrics explain the awe-inspiring story of people who, once torn by hatred, evil, and wickedness, dared to dream once more, rebuild once again, and finally live in true freedom.
Then there are also songs such as "In the Girl There’s a Room" which tells the story of a young girl who, despite the dim appearance of her circumstances, held onto courage in the face of danger. In a place where all had gone wrong, she stood defiant and remained a fighter for the hope, freedom, and joy she had been given.
In doing so, all of these people have left a legacy which shines before many and reveals the power of pure hope and faith; and, through the inspiration she found in their stories, Groves has also found a whole new definition to hope, justice, and what it really means to know God. In return, with reflection on these invaluable experiences, she skillfully paints a full picture of these themes in Tell Me What You Know.
Additionally, Groves explores new territory on this record musically. From the nearly vintage sounds of "You Are Wonderful" and the chorus of "Love Is Still a Worthy Cause" to the jazz touches of "Freedom" (one of the two tracks offered exclusively through Family Christian Store’s Tell Me What You Know: James Fund Edition), the clever musicianship of this seasoned songwriter can be clearly seen. Yet, it is in tracks such as "Song for My Sons," "In the Girl There’s a Room," "Abstraction," and "It Might Be Hope" that the true brilliance of Sara’s musical maturity is brought forth and the exceptional work of her production team shines through. Creating ear-catching rhythms, captivating bass lines, well-supporting guitar riffs, beautifully simplistic piano pieces, and breath-taking string arrangements, Sara and her extraordinary team of musicians step up to the plate, delivering a range of mesmerizing sounds one after another.
Yet, overall, not only does this album hold a solid punch on the music front, but it also carries a profound and important message that will not be silenced. Although encouraging and uplifting, Tell Me What You Know brings a sense of urgency and a challenge to the Church, God’s body, to move forward in the work of His kingdom. Whether or not it makes people uncomfortable, Sara Groves chooses to write from her heart as is evidenced in this collection of songs. The end result: an album nothing short of inspiring.