THE POINT OF ARRIVAL.
THE POINT OF ARRIVAL Carrie Newcomer (Available Light Records, 2019)
In reviewing Carrie Newcomer's new album, The Point of Arrival, I want to make clear my bias. What is marketed as spiritual (even progressive spiritual) music generally turns me off. Call me a snob, but often spiritual music comes off as sanctimonious and lacking in musical depth. The Point of Arrival, Newcomer's 16th album, not only avoids these pitfalls but also sincerely delivers a solid, thought-provoking, poetic album.
Newcomer's spiritual practice as a Quaker is evidenced in her mingling of God and the everyday. There is a touch of fellow Quaker Emily Dickinson in Newcomer's lyrics, a fact that elevates the album. In "Everything We Need," she sings, "I pressed my palm, tree after tree / To feel the weight of time / The light came down in silver threads / All mixed with rain and pine."
The album is concerned with the transitive nature of our lives and how we fumble through grief and growth impatiently. Our fast-paced society cannot fathom eternity. Newcomer's songs are an invitation to relax in the moments when we most want to run. In "That's the Way These Things Go," the chorus splits hairs on the difference between being lost and wandering: "But I'm not lost / I'm only wandering."
On The Point of Arrival, Newcomer reminds us to be less concerned with where we are going than with where we are right now. The fact that God is present in this moment is what matters. This is a much-needed alternative to the anxious pace of modern life. In the chorus to "Everything We Need," Newcomer's prayer-as-lyrics suggest: "Today I sense that all is near / Evermore and soon to be / Within us and between us is / Everything we need." Part poetry, part prayer, part music album, the latest from Carrie Newcomer has arrived just in time.