145. Hallowed Ground – The Violent Femmes
HALLOWED GROUND (1984)
Some have made of thinking that Violent Femmes’ front man and lyricists Gordon Gano’s obviously Christian lyrical content were meant to be tongue in cheek or sarcastic are simply mistaken. He has been a devout Christian since his youth and when things in the Femmes became confrontational as to his blatant statements of faith he started the band, Mercy Seat (reviewed previously), in response.
But with Hallowed Ground Gano was at his very best as a youthful songwriter expressing his faith in a medium that was edgy, raw and utterly real. The Femmes were an amazing band and Gano are clearly underrated songwriter. Many of the songs here were written while Gano was still in High School and the exuberance of youth shows through.
Gano has a nasally, high pitched, almost old school country or Gospel sounding voice that for some can be an acquired taste. But it so perfectly fits the musical expressions found on Hallowed ground that another voice would seem out of place in retrospect. This is no more true than on the wonderful “Jesus Walking On the Water.” A cross between Southern Gospel, Country and a children’s Sunday School ditty, the song simply works on so many levels.
One reviewer described Gano’s lyrical approach as one who wears his region like a badge of honor, but not a shield. I love that description as despite the clear and fundamental statements of faith there is also a sense of doubt, struggle and humility about that which cannot be easily explained away.
Musically the album carries the same punk-folk credentials as the first, though maybe not as rough. there is more melody and instrumentation going on here and, as a result, a more long lasting satisfying experience.