Good Saint Nathanael: Hide No Truth Album Review

a1444126749_10If you’ve been following the musical journey of Nate Allen to this point the first thing you’re bound to notice about his latest project is the uncharacteristically grey artwork. It stands in stark contrast with his work in Destroy Nate Allen and his solo project, The Pac-Away Dolls. Instead of a fist bump or a chewing gum vendor, Hide No Truth stares at a barren tree that’s been overcome by the biting forces of a relentless winter. And like the tree on the cover, the music and heart within it are weakened and exposed. Vulnerable and beaten yet, despite it all, still looking towards a brighter future.

If it hasn’t been made apparent already, Hide No Truth is not a happy album. But neither is it an overly sad one that gets caught up in the throes of its bitterness and self-loathing. Rather, Hide No Truth is an honest glimpse into the thoughts of a man trying to reconcile and, perhaps more accurately, make sense of his faith in the face of the corruption and confusion he witnesses around him. The ghostly “Heaven” finds Allen lamenting over the twisted state of the church and how their pursuit of holiness and acceptance causes them to ignore a brother in need. “You’re dancing with your Jesus, I am crying on the floor / Singing songs of celebration, well I’m feeling ignored / My anxiety is packing up, I’m headed for the door.” Likewise, “Concrete” is a chilling and musically barren memoir on the silence of God and how that silence can often appear as a sign of rejection to someone who’s desperate to hear from the God they love. “As I bowed at the altar, at that summer camp in June / Never felt more invisible than as you played that never-ending tune / Begging Holy Spirit visit. “Please any little sign” My tears soaking the carpet, I sobbed until my eyes went blind / There was no divine intervention No crowd of angels defending / There was no answer, No communication / No, time does not heal everything.

A sense of hope begins to surface on the latter tracks as Allen starts gathering up the pieces of his shattered faith. Following the stark coldness of the songs before it, “Making Repairs” carries with it a sense of warmth and optimism as Allen sings, “Call it disruptive I’d say I’m lucky I’d ruptured my internal affairs / My heart was broken, I needed a new one, / I’ll be in the basement making repairs.” The centrepiece of the record is found in the beautifully redemptive “Lightning,” which sees Allen reflecting on the love of God and how that love can reach into even the darkest season of our lives. The worshipful “Trust” continues this train of thought, celebrating the saving power of Jesus Christ and His redeeming love. “The Lord makes my demons afraid, says fear you have to leave you may under no circumstances stay / Says anxiety you must cease / Burdens and oppressions you’ve been released / And No longer will we suffer in exile estranged.” And when the love of God is fully revealed do we realize the mistakes we’ve made and how truly far we’ve fallen short. The people we’ve hurt, the wounds we’ve opened, the anger, bitterness, and resentment we’ve felt. Indeed, even when we’re standing at the end of our struggle many of us continue to look down on those who walk behind us. Hide No Truth closes, not with a sense of judgement, but with a convicting encouragement. We’ve ignored the broken, we’ve lived for our own gain, but it isn’t the end. We can always do better.

Hide No Truth is a beautifully vulnerable yet redemptive work that both criticizes and hopes in the heart of man. Above all, it is a celebration of how Christ can change even the hardest of hearts. The emotionally heavy songwriting and minimalist instrumentation might be a difficult pill for some listeners to swallow but if you happen to give it a chance you’ll find a treasure worth reflecting upon time and time again.

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