Brady Toops. Heard of him? If you’re like me, I’d never heard of him until a few months ago. But, boy, am I glad to know him now. Well, if owning his new album and corresponding with him via Twitter and email counts, then I guess I kinda know him. Brady sent me a copy of his eponymous album (available for purchase on iTunes and free streaming here) and I am really hopeful that you’ll give him a listen.
The first thing that struck me about Brady is his voice. Rarely do I stumble upon a singer who really understands that their voice is an instrument to be mastered. Amazingly, the guy has never taken voice lessons. In his words, his goal is simply “to try and translate the emotion and ideas of each song as accurately as possible into each tune.” And, boy does he succeed. Anybody can sing a traditional hymn or gospel/soul, but few are able to really communicate the longing for hope like Brady does. Maybe it has something to do with growing up in small-town America and living in a faith community that values old-time hymns. Or maybe it’s his closet love of Boyz II Men. Regardless, Brady gets the job done.
I must confess that I don’t get too jazzed about quote-unquote Christian artists, not that Brady claims the moniker. It seems that the genre of “Christian music” can sometimes get in the way of the creative musical process. Sometimes, though, you find a musician who is deeply connected to the Faith, but is also remarkably gifted musically. Folks like Sufjan Stevens, Jon Foreman, and (of course) Derek Webb come to mind. Brady is another one of these talented musicians who doesn’t sacrifice the art to fit a market niche. Whether you’re a Christian or not, these songs will feed your soul. They really stir something in me, which is why this record has been my soundtrack for driving to church each week since I got it. It helps me to look forward to something bigger, something better, something more meaningful than what most is usually offered to me.
I could elaborate on the songs or the man himself, but the best thing you could do is just listen. Listen with an open mind and prepare to be surprised. Brady Toops is a name I anticipate hearing for years to come and I hope you’ll join me in enjoying his new album. I’ll close with a quote from the man himself:
“My goal with this album was to put together a collection of tunes that were honest and true. I wanted to make a record I could fully believe in. In the songwriting and production, I wanted the music to really go deep into the hearts of those who listen. I’ve been profoundly impacted by certain stories and songs over the years and the chance to give that sort of experience to someone is something I really enjoy.”