Messenger | Mama

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Spiritual: Country Gospel Folk: Traditional Folk Moods: Christian
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by Messenger

Messenger’s country / pop music style speaks of God’s healing transformation of the human experience through faith and trust.
Genre: Spiritual: Country Gospel
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Time Goes By
4:36 album only
2. God Loves Me
3:36 album only
3. You Are The One
2:36 album only
4. Destiny
4:39 album only
5. Behind Every Face
4:57 album only
6. It's Not Alright
2:22 album only
7. Sometimes
4:37 album only
8. He Lives In Me
2:25 album only
9. Mama
5:10 album only
10. Together Forever
3:20 album only
11. I'm Country
4:31 album only
12. My Son
2:57 album only
13. Run Away
3:21 album only
14. What If
3:11 album only
15. Ever So Softly
4:09 album only


Album Notes

'Mama' is about good music, as well as Christian message

March 10, 2006

By Art Edelstein Arts Correspondent - Times Argus

Karen Knaebel & Messenger

Karen Knaebel is following a dream. Music has always had a hold on her life, and although she readily admits to not being a very good instrumentalist, she has written and produced a very good first album, "Mama."

"I don't play any instrument very well," she says of her talent, "mostly I hear everything in my head."

Knaebel's view aside, while the songs on "Mama" can be categorized as praise music, and that genre is obviously music that preaches, "Mama" is a soft preach. The music here is so good that I'm reminded of the singing of Alison Krauss, or the Tennessee music tradition exemplified by June Carter Cash which recently earned actress Reese Witherspoon an Oscar for "Walk the Line."

"Mama" is a main course of acoustic country music with side orders of southern gospel and Americana folk delivered tastefully and reverently – with a flavoring that is decidedly light on hellfire and brimstone.

Only five years after starting to write songs in a music career that has been very low key — one that consists of just a few performances at her church and spot singing with local groups — Knaebel's muse, delivered in praise songs, is well-grounded and professional.

"God has a lot to do with what I hear in my head," she says of the music she produces.

"I didn't want to be a person at the end of my life saying I should have followed my dream," says Knaebel of the impetus for her music and her budding music career.

What took this mercury education and reduction coordinator at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to her first recording session is an obvious love of God, and a desire, she says, to share with others the pain of life.

"I don't consider myself religious" says Knaebel of the 15 songs she sings on "Mama." "It's not about religion; it's about my relationship with God."

Knaebel is a member of the Faith Community Church, which meets weekly in the basement of the Hollow Inn in Barre.

Knaebel's knack is the ability to write lovingly of her relationship with the higher powers. In the opening song, "As Time Goes By," she writes, "Just when I thought I'd have only one child – God had a different mind/ He gave to me a daughter dear …"

Here Marshfield multi-instrumentalist Colin McCaffrey accompanies her on several instruments. Throughout this album, McCaffrey shines on guitar, violin, piano and backup vocals. He leads a band of musicians Knaebel says she cobbled together from chance meetings and job connections. Messenger's unobtrusive and solid playing is a fine example others playing acoustic country music should follow. In this CD, the music is respectful of the singer and never tries to overpower the vocal message. Messenger's ability to set a tuneful backdrop for Knaebel's emotive songs deserves its own praise.

Knaebel is unabashed in love for her maker. In "God Loves Me" she sings, "God loves me with the sun upon my cheek/ God loves me with a love that's so unique."

On "Behind Every Face" Knaebel sings of the problems that she has faced that she hopes others can gain strength from. "Behind every face, Lord – You know there's a story/ Wasted lifetimes of grace – for a few moments of glory/I try to remember if my life is worthwhile/ I look in the mirror and they've taken my smile."

On the CD's most swinging track, the bluesy "Sometimes," Knaebel reminds us that we have to pay attention: "Sometimes you can't hear the message of the sweetness of the song – sometimes, sometimes, sometimes/ Sometimes we don't understand just what He has to say – but if we'd listen for the message while we bow our heads to pray."

Knaebel says she doesn't pattern her music after any particular singer or writer. "I take what my life has given me and try to relate that to what God can do to make it better. Somebody else has gone through the same thing and I hope can make a connection."

The singer wants to get her songs out to a wider audience even though church is an easy venue. "I sing in church a lot, it's my favorite place to sing. I'm in God's house and it makes me feel at home."

Knaebel does not try to write "in your face" Christian music. "I don't necessarily need to sing to the choir," she explains. "The choir doesn't necessarily need to hear the message but others do; the choir has already heard the message."

To write the very real lyrics she has composed is a very personal process where "the first thing that comes is usually a broken heart over something that has moved me. I pour that out onto a piece of paper. That usually resolves the problem."

According to her, "God heals me in the music."

"I usually write about concepts," says the Barre singer. "I've never taken a songwriting workshop and have no formal training. But everyone has a gift. My gift is listening and hearing the music in my heart. Colin's (McCaffrey) gift is to hear other instruments that go in there."

Knaebel and Messenger are infrequent performers but there will be a chance to hear them in concert on April 22 at Waterbury Alliance Church in Waterbury Center for a 7 p.m. show.

Is there a big audience for praise music? Knaebel has modest expectations. "I hope there are people who hear it and it will give them some hope … If something good happens with this CD I'll be delighted."

While "Mama" may not be everyone's style of music, if this CD gets the air or church time it deserves, this will be a very successful first effort.



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