If you’re enchanted by lyrical world-building, unorthodox song maps, or fresh coffee, then you already may have discovered The Gray Havens. If not, today is your lucky day.
Dave and Licia Radford are the husband-and-wife duo whose blended voices animate the narrative pop/folk group, The Gray Havens—a name not-so-subtly inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien’s fictional land of “white shores and beyond them a far green country.” You may even pick up on how the artwork for their first full-length album, Fire and Stone, looks reminiscent of the extended version of The Return of the King. This is for good reason. Deeply shaped by the works of favorite authors (others being C. S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards), the Radfords steep their songs in fresh metaphoric settings, and their lyrics are infused with allegorical images that reflect their thoughtful approach to the gospel.
The song “Train Station” on their first EP is a fine example. It spins a story of love and loss that parallels the beloved tale of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, akin to what Lewis did in The Chronicles of Narnia. Although these songs have depth, they definitely aren’t all somber. “Jack and Jill, Pt. 2” is Exhibit A—a playful, upbeat piece interwoven with nursery rhymes, which has us thinking, “How have we never put two and two together that Mary had a little lamb, and He was white as snow?”
Not all TGH songs will be equally accessible to every listener. Some songs require more than a single listen to probe the depths of meaning woven into a song’s framework. As Licia said herself, “They unfold as you go. They require interaction.” But, hopefully, if fans are intrigued by a song excerpt, they’ll stick around long enough for it to give up its secrets.
Known for energetic and powerful, piano-driven melodies, TGH are a breath of fresh air musically as well as lyrically. Let’s face it, Dave has mad piano skills. Paired with his vocal intensity, no doubt partially stemming from his past experience as a performer (including a stint as a finalist on American Idol when he was in high school), the result is a fresh repertoire of joy-filled songs about hope and longing for eternity that sound very much alive. Licia’s gentle harmonies lend warmth to the duo and provide just the right amount of sass to songs like “You Stole My Fame (To Grace).”
Speaking of the word “fresh,” you can also purchase a unique blend of coffee called The Gray Havens Blend through their website or out on the road. Things just keep getting better, don’t they?
Though based in Illinois, Dave and Licia mingle with the Nashville crowd a lot. You may have met them last spring at the first Rabbit Room Retreat, when they participated in the guitar huddle around the campfire and played a few songs, in-the-round style. Or you may have seen them perform live at The Rutledge last year alongside other local artists the night before Hutchmoot. They’ve also played Escape to the Lake with our friends at Under the Radar.
Now that you’ve had a proper introduction, go show them some love. See them live or pick up an album. This fall, you can find The Gray Havens playing select tour dates. Click here for a more personal step into their world and to stay updated on music projects, ministry, and more special blends (maybe a dark grey chocolate line next?).