Faraway Land – Ron Block
Rounder Records 11661-0477-2
Let me testify to the jamband-loving congregation that when I seek
spirituality, I generally do not seek it in the form of music. Sure, you can
present the convincing argument of spirituality becoming an intrinsic part
some artist's exploratory sounds. But I'm talking about the
rock genre. I just don't care to be hit over the head again and again with
the wonders of Jesus or being Saved unless it comes in the form of certain
acts such as the Blind Boys of Alabama or Bob Marley.
Block, the guitarist/vocalist/writer in Alison Krauss & Union Station,
finally took the time to stop allowing his material to be used by Krauss and
others (Randy Travis, the Cox Family and the Forbes Family) and concentrated
on his own work.
Thematically, he covers the terrain of faith and devotion but he does it
in such a way that it's more like a subdued testimonial or a series of
rather than non-stop, in-your-face preaching. Occasionally, his praise
becomes a bit overwhelming but it's kept to a minimum.
Another hint that Block calls on a variety of sources in order to
bring his message across comes from the album's booklet. Several well-worn
books are depicted in the photographs. Standing out among the titles and
authors is a collected works of Joni Mitchell, as well as a DVD of The
In the end, will Faraway Land be a disc I use to find comfort when
the madness of the world becomes unbearable? Sorry, Ron, but probably not.
Still, due to his deft wordplay and the material's sharp, sparkling
performances Block's faith-based viewpoint makes for good listening.