6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The struggle of being human,
This review is from: Us (Audio CD)
Desires, relationships, communication, the struggle of being imperfect humans in an imperfect world...Grace, and what it means to love and live in this world. All of these things echo throughout this collection of songs. "US" is one of my favorite recordings. It has a depth that few others in my collection have ever even come close to matching.
The music varies greatly in sound and style; with all of it working to great effect:
The pulsing rhythms of the percussion on "Love to be Loved" flow as a gentle undercurrent working in combination with very understated keyboards. The way the instrumental music on this song serves as a canvass for Gabriel's whisper-like vocals is pure genius. The song itself is about cutting loose the habitual need for human love. It is a musically gentle yet emotionally searing exposition on the pain caused when a relationship dies.
The "Blood of Eden" contains some of the most beautiful lyrics ever written in English (just my not-so-humble opinion). It speaks of the human habit of constantly starting to love, to seek union, without taking stock of our true selves and our true motives. It speaks of coming to the realization of who one really is with beautiful language: "I caught sight of my reflection, I caught it in the window; I saw the darkness in my heart. I saw the signs of my undoing. They had been there from the start." It speaks of our wanting union. The song begins by focusing on the union of women and men. Upon deeper reflection the song moves on to speak of a deeper need for union than the marital framework provides: "I can hear the distant thunder of a million unheard souls, of a million unheard souls-watch each one reach for creature comfort for the filling of their holes." One should look at this particular song in the context of the main theme of this album: relationships. In the context of the language of these songs and the theme of relationships, it is notable that the way in which the "Blood of Eden" speaks of the desire of union between people is much the same as it (and a few of the other songs) later comes to phrase the desire of union with something higher-namely: God. The desire for union with God is wholly natural. It is what we were created for. It is the only way can truly be fulfilled. However, when we begin to put God-like expectations on our relationships with others, we are bound to fail. It is desire of this kind of union, that of one person to another with expectations that only God can fulfill, that is at the root of much of the pain expressed in this album-and if we are honest-our own lives.
"Washing of the Water" is a song that I can relate to in a very deep way. It is possibly my favorite track on the disc. For those who have found themselves adrift in the seeming nothingness of this life, this song speaks eloquently of how hard it is to finally find freedom in that very sense of what can only be termed as "adrift-ness". The very river we are drowning in can lift us up when we pass through the roar and ceaseless motion of our daily lives. Having done this one may enter into the silence; where we are able to hear that still, small voice. It is then, and only then, in that total surrender to our loving Father's will, that we grasp the direction and purpose of this life. In this peace, in this truth we are finally at rest and capable of not only laying aside our pain, but upon further consideration of it, to realize that it too is joy.
"Secret World", the final track, serves as a retrospective summation of the theme of relationships that permeates the entire recording. The summation is not a statement but a question that each of us who has ever experienced the death of a relationship would do well to ponder over: "in all the places we were hiding love, what was it we were thinking of?"
The other tracks of the album are wonderful as well. "Kiss That Frog" is endearingly humorous. "Come Talk To Me" heroically kicks off the album and contains some great lyrics. "Steam" is a typical Peter Gabriel expression (dare I say celebration) of lust. "Only Us" is a powerful statement of self-awareness and the journey back to the land we once called home. "Digging in the Dirt" combines the beauty and rage encountered when we make that self-discovery. "Fourteen Black Paintings" is a truly beautiful musical/spoken word piece about the temporal reality of humanity.
This album confronts the listener about the challenges inherent in being human. It is one of my favorite albums. It leads one to cry out for grace-and that cry, when answered, leads us to fulfillment. I give this disc my highest recommendation.