As most of my weeks seem to be at this time of year, I didn’t get a lot of reading done. I still have The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao sitting on my bedside table, begging to be read. And I still putter away through the new Poets and Writers and The Sun when I have a few free moments.
But mostly, this week I was reading Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyers. So far, it’s very good but not as amazing as I had hoped. I did find the Meyer’s choice (don’t read on if you don’t want a bit of a spoiler here) to have Bella not have sex with Edward until after their marriage to be a heartening and well-crafted choice that spoke more of wise decision that of moralism. I’ll write a full review once I plow through the rest.

One thing I have been reading a lot of this week are song lyrics – Ellis Paul, Nora Jones, Patty Griffin, and this band that I just came to really enjoy yesterday, Reilly. I had heard Reilly play on WXPN, the best radio station in the country. So when my friend Dave invited me to hear them live at his church, Frederick Church of the Brethren, yesterday, I was fully geared to go. And Reilly didn’t disappoint.

They have a great indie/pop/singer-songwriter sound that is intricately overlaid with the rifs and spins of the violin. They also have a great sense of rhythm, playing with progressions and changes in meter that make their music live and surprise like the first red leaf on an autumn maple. At times in their shows, they soloed out, bringing in a jazz flavor, that showcased all of the talented musicians in the group.

On top of that, their lead singer John Reilly is a very talented vocalist, a man with the ability to have a great tone to his voice without straying into the operatic or pop vocals that some good singers lean toward. Additionally, as the main songwriter, it’s his influence that I most appreciate in the band. In “This Side of Your Life,” he says:
I’m tired of my yesterdays looking just like today, always the same. Been reading familiar lines hoping to renew my mind with color of the phrases, red and black on wrinkled pages. . . . Been walking in a backwards pace watching aspirations fade like a falling star and a meteor I’m burning out. But the echoes of the words you say they wake me like an earthquake.”

Or in “Sunlight”:
You are the father of every prodigal running into the arms of sick and soiled souls. You make me whiter than the winter’s snow, you cover over the ashes on the inside. . . . You’re the whisper between two lovers, igniting passion long after the altar. You are the reason I sing . . .

It’s not often, to be honest, that I find a Christian band that makes me smile because of their musicality and their lyrics – a combination of true passion, deep talent, a striving for excellent, and a deep love. Most of the time when someone says Christian band, I sigh, sit back, and let the music breeze right past me, anticipating that I will be told about things I already understand in ways I already understand them. But with Reilly, that does not happen. Here I am challenged, again, to be more than I am now, more of what God has made me to be. Check them out if you need them.

Reilly