Farther along we’ll know all about it
Farther along we’ll understand why
Cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We’ll understand this all by and by
A few tears streamed down my face the first time I sat, mesmerized, watching a video performance of Josh Garrels playing this song from his latest album, Love & War & The Sea In Between. It’d been a while since I’d checked in on Josh’s music, and I found a couple new tracks from a forthcoming album. “Farther Along” was the first listen and it reached me at a specific place that I didn’t even realize needed words of hope.
I felt something beyond me saying things were going to be okay, yet it’s not that I was surfing the web looking for music videos to fill a void in that moment. That’s the beauty of Josh’s music–a musical gift that beautifully yet forcefully expresses the intersection where divinity meets humanity. And he’s been doing this for years.
Yet Love & War & The Sea In Between is Garrels’ magnum opus. It’s a collection of 18 tracks that fully encapsulate the tension we feel between two warring kingdoms. Sometimes they’re siren songs birthed in a garden we’ve only read about (“Ulysses”); others are a call to arms, a musical summons to engage the world on behalf of a greater cause of love and truth and beauty (“The Resistance”). Taken as a whole, they remind us of the true nature of our calling and the far country of which we’re a greater part.
Garrels’ comes by his folk-hop fusion honestly. His parents sold their possessions and joined a Christian commune of sorts where Josh was born. His family left after several years, and Josh found himself immersed in the worlds of hip-hop and skate culture through his teenage years. I’ve known him for nearly a decade, even venturing through Israel and Palestine together for a couple of weeks a few years ago, and he’s always obeyed the internal impulse of the spirit’s voice. Whether hopping trains or pastoring a church, I’ve never known Josh to care much about the expectations of others, and his music remains untainted because of it.
For those who have yet to plunge into Josh’s music, the good news is that it’s free for the next year. Even though Love & War is the most expensive album he’s recorded, I’ll never forget the conversation where he told me that he and his wife both knew they were called to give away this music–both in digital and physical form for one full calendar year. While he relayed an initial apprehensiveness about the approach, any longtime listener to Josh Garrels realizes he’ll be fine as long as he’s following his heart.
You can download Love & War & The Sea In Between for free at Josh’s website (JoshGarrels.com).
Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.