Songs Of Disaffection / Songs Of Deliverance

Eric Barnhart

Him: a jazz pianist with the heart of a classic rocker. Them: 40 artists playing a myriad of musical styles. Together: a story of the human soul.

Midwesterner: I was born in Wisconsin and lived most of my childhood in a small town in Iowa, the youngest of two sons to a farmer and a social worker. I began formally studying piano when I was five.I believe the teacher thought I had potential but considered my study habits to be below average; I was much more interested in holding the sustain pedal down and playing the theme to Star Wars as loudly as possible.

Life in the Midwest is about as idyllic as it comes, but by the time I was seventeen and knew I wanted to pursue a career in music, I realized it wasn't going to happen in Iowa. So, to borrow a line from the masters of Brit bits: And now for something completely different.

So Flo Connection: I moved to Miami, FL in August of '92 and was promptly welcomed to Dade County by a little gala the locals liked to refer to as Hurricane Andrew. If I was looking for something outside of my previous experience, I certainly found it. I studied at The University of Miami for 2 ½ years, half as an audio engineer, the rest as a composition major with jazz piano as my principal instrument of study. On September 11, 1994, I became a Christian and soon got involved in different campus ministries. I also began to attend a church with some of my friends. The youth director there recruited me to be a volunteer youth worker; eventually he hired me to be a one-year intern.

When the internship was about to end, the youth director put me in touch with another church that was looking for a part-time director. At the time, I had left UM for two years and had just returned to finish my degree at Florida International University, this time as a jazz piano major. I ended up working at the church, first part-time and eventually full-time after I finished school, for the next six years of my life.

Musically, I began to write music for the church and for my own performances in Miami venues. I've always loved the recording process, and in 2003 recorded Perfect, the first EP of material I had been performing. Not long after the EP was recorded, God began to move my heart from South Florida to Atlanta. I accepted a job in the music ministry at another church in Atlanta in March 2004. I had been playing regularly with a band and wanted to record some of the latest songs before moving out of South Florida. In a symbolic gesture, I brought two of my bandmates with me to a studio in Atlanta to record the core tracks for the next album. I then returned to Miami to finish recording the rest of the album, mixing it and mastering it there as well with a good friend. The title, aptly named Liminal State, was finished a week before the move to Atlanta.

ATLanded: After living in Atlanta for a year, I began to feel the stirrings to record another project, this one a full length album comprising some tracks from Liminal State (which, incidentally, was never pressed) along with several newly recorded songs. The album would be based on a concept I've been dwelling on for several years: use a theme in two songs where one song explores the theme through the eyes of a disaffected American without a relationship with God, and the other song examines that same theme from a Christian perspective. The idea is borrowed from William Blake's use of Contraries in his works Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.

The album, "Songs Of Disaffection/Songs Of Deliverance," is arguably the story of my "musical" life until now. But it is also a tale which, at least in my own eyes, is far grander in scope. And yet it is deeply personal. It is a story of the human soul. The text from the opening song reads: "Do we pierce the illusion and dance with infinity? / Do we spiral into madness on our quest for divinity? / Or does nothing lead to nothing, and chance to happenstance?" These three questions really can be summed up into one: DO WE HAVE REASON FOR HOPE? I echo the response of the readers to the aforementioned questions by saying, "let us see where faith and fortune rests." It is my earnest prayer that this album will help to illumine an adequate answer.

Read more… close