163. Lay It Down – Jennifer Knapp
LAY IT DOWN (2000)
What Margaret Becker was for Christian Music a decade previous Jennifer Knapp was for her generation. An authentic, real, tough and transparent rocker surrounded by Zoe Girl, Joy Williams and Point of Grace. Knapp stood out in a pablum, commercial wasteland as one with heart, soul and guts. Immediately compared to Melissa Etheridge, kd land and the Indigo Girls when she debuted those comparisons would later prove to be quite ironic.
But a decade before the whispered rumors were proven true Knapp was creating some of the greatest female singer-songwriter in Christian Music. No one ever doubted her authenticity as her early albums were filled with heart felt and emotional ballads and realistic rockers. Lay It Down proved to be the most cohesive and consistent. It would also receive a Grammy and dove nomination.
The opening track still creates chills for its stark and brutal honesty as “A Little More” shares the heart of the broken sinner. The title track has a heavy country feel and is the most Etheridge like. But it’s in some of the heavier songs like “Into You” that Knapp sounds the most comfortable. Some female CCM artists attempt to rock, for Knapp it just sounds more natural.
There are really no weak moments on the entire album as both AC and rock radio took advantage of this great album and played nearly every song.
Knapp would follow with the critically acclaimed but almost forgotten “The Way I Am.” It was at this time that hushed whispers began to circulate regarding Knapp’s sexuality. I spent several hours with her at an event in Southern California at the time and she mentioned that that show would be one of her last and that she was calling it quits. Several people came up to me that night asking me if she mentioned to me that she was leaving Christian Music because she was gay. She never mentioned it to me but the rumor spread throughout the music festival that night and I was bombarded with questions because of being seen as being “in the industry.”
Her hiatus would last nearly the entire 2000’s before she recorded and released her “Letting Go” album. It was a coming out release in several ways as the bulk of early reviews and interviews centered around Knapp’s announcement that she was indeed a lesbian. The day the album hit, along with the interviews, Christian radio immediately pulled everything from her off their playlists.
I will only comment that if one can get past the issue involved “Letting Go,” from a purely artistic expression, is a brilliant album and would be worthy of being included on this countdown. That notwithstanding there was no way I would not include the amazing “Lay It Down.”