Home > CCM, Christian Music, Christian Pop, Christian Rock, Greatest Albums, Jesus Music > 145. Hallowed Ground – The Violent Femmes

145. Hallowed Ground – The Violent Femmes

HALLOWED GROUND (1984)

Violent Femmes

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.

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  1. TopekaRoy
    February 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I was (pleasantly) surprised to see this album on list of greatest “Christian” albums of all time, but it certainly deserves to be included here. When it first came out, I was surprised to hear how different it sounded from their eponymous debut (although it’s musical direction was hinted at on side 2 of their previous album.) It grew on me after a few listens.

    More conservative Christians may be troubled by songs like “Country Death Song” about a man who murders his daughter by throwing her in a well, feels remorse and hangs himself. But listening to the song, I couldn’t help thinking how Abraham must have felt as he was taking his son up to be sacrificed, and then how Judas must’ve felt when he realized what he had done for 30 pieces of silver.

    The album is dripping with spiritual content and I wasn’t a bit surprised when I later heard that Gordon Gano had put together a Christian band.

    • low5point
      February 23, 2011 at 12:10 am

      Country Death Song is great. based on a true story from the 1800’s….The Judas connection hit me as well.

  2. February 23, 2011 at 2:57 am

    Ditto about “Country Death Song” easily and eerily reminiscent of many Biblical stories! I like the Judas connection.

    “It’s Gonna Rain” is another catchy Sunday School sounding number that you can easily find yourself singing along to! I think it was actually used in a car commercial a few years back (if I remember right it was for a convertible that has a solid roof that can easily open and close depending on the weather)

  3. Greenchili
    December 31, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Eh?

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