Nicholas D’Andrea Expresses Indie Folk Ecumenicism on “Songs For The Kingdom: Shine Out Volume 2”
Settling on answers in the physical world are not enough for Nicholas D’Andrea. Settling on answers in the intellectual world are not enough either. Nor do settling on answers in metaphysical or psychedelic realms suffice. Nicholas has journeyed to the heart of creation Himself and settled there.
The Holy Spirit is a powerful force, and one best expressed through music, worship, itself. For those unfamiliar with Nicholas D’Andrea’s story, a sudden shift a few years back (after a dynamic religious conversion experience) has reframed the context in which he writes his music from the scene he was once assimilated to (2010’s indie guy) to an artist using his talents For The Kingdom. As is simply put in the opening track (“Open Up A River”) of his newest release, “it’s all for You”. The You is what has changed most emphatically in Nicholas’ music in recent years, and is simultaneously the most important and least vague aspect of his songwriting. No longer is the “you” in each song a concept or idea of a person or narrated character the listener can fit themselves into; the You is Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
“Shine Out Vol 2” shows an immediate step forward through subtilty and record collector type mastery. Whereas Vol 1 still had a little bit of a “worship leader” feel at times, Vol 2 tones down the modernity in favor of vintage, earthy sounds and popcorn drum kit struts (thanks in part to the help of backing band Ramey). “Jesus, I Want You!” is an immediate identifier in this category; one could easily get “Spirit In The Sky” vibes, and there certainly is a fun loving-everyman-indie-folk ecumenicism to it, but multiple listens reveal more of the greats like Tom Waits, Dr. John, and even a little flare of Rod Stewart coming through. Any preconceptions of “Christian lyric cringe” can be thrown right out, when in fact it is the direct scriptural lyrics that come across as most genuine and mature. Stated plainly; this is not “gimmicky” Christian music, this is masterful songwriting by an obviously devoted Christian.
Stand out track “The Light I Seen”, a slow and snowballing 10 minute journey exemplifies Nicholas at his best. Working from the Gospel’s own powerful imagery, we not only hear Christ’s message the way it has been stated for thousands of years (“you are more valuable than many sparrows”) but we FEEL it in Nicholas’ own personal way, coming through in shades of folk, soul, R&B, romp and MIRTH. To serve the Kingdom is an obvious joy beyond words for Nicholas, and only when he goes beyond words and into extended instrumental breaks do we really grasp the full depth of that joy.
Nicholas D’Andrea has been known for many credits during his over decade long career, including having his music placed on TV shows and touring with bands like CAAMP. He comes from an era where songwriters, usually in their 20s, went on an inward journeys to mine their lives for questions and answers on meaning. What ends so many young songwriters’ journeys once they hit their late 20s/early 30s (like settling down, starting a family, and completing that sense of questioning with some concrete material answers) is what makes Nicholas D’Andrea stand out in such a different and unique way on “Songs For The Kingdom”, and what continues his songwriting journey indefinitely. Settling on answers in the physical world are not enough for him. Settling on answers in the intellectual world are not enough either. Nor do settling on answers in metaphysical or psychedelic realms suffice. Nicholas has journeyed to the heart of creation Himself and settled there.