Sara Groves’ tenth album, Fireflies and Songs, finds her reteamed with noted producer Charlie Peacock to explore the universal issues of marriage, family, friendship and following Jesus in the midst of it all. In May 2009 they retreated to his Art House recording studio in Nashville to create the follow up to 2007’s Tell Me What You Know. The recording sessions took place just a month after Groves journeyed to Rwanda with the aid organization Food for the Hungry, and seeds of inspiration planted during that trip seeped into the new songs.
Her growing catalog of discs, which includes a Christmas album and a collection of kids’ tunes, showcases the insightful, introspective songwriting this musician, wife and mother of three has become known for. Her depth and wisdom seems to grow with each release, whether she’s singing about the joys of a lasting marriage or paying tribute to her grandmother with a new take on a traditional “working” song, Groves has a knack for celebrating the simple, everyday treasures found along life’s journey that most of us simply miss.
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Sara Groves [Fireflies and Songs]| Posted November 10, 2009 [MAIN REVIEW]
"This one is the songwriter's album for sure." Almost as an afterthought, Sara Groves concludes an in-depth conversation about her new recording, Fireflies & Songs. Well put. At the same time, it should be pointed out that Sara's parting descriptor is a testament to how the album was approached and recorded rather than a proclamation of Fireflies' superiority over her other widely-esteemed work. With her two previous INO recordings, 2005’s Add to the Beauty, which includes “You Are The Sun”, and 2007’s Tell Me What You Know, which includes “I Saw What I Saw”, Groves focused on a theme and wrote poetic commentary with songs about social justice and the impoverished.
However, early in the pre-production process of Fireflies & Songs INO Record’s president Jeff Moseley suggested that "It's been a long time since we've heard from you," saying, "I want to check in with you. What's happening now in your life? What is life like for you as a wife, mother, daughter and friend?" Sara's songwriting has long been ubiquitously described as extremely "vulnerable", "honest", "transparent", "intimate" and "real."
Each of Sara’s albums have received well-deserved acclaim for her premier songwriting ability. Sara’s major label debut album Conversations includes “The Word” and she was nominated for best new artist. She has followed up each album with her next “best” album with 2002’s All Right Here which includes “Less Like Scars”, and 2004’s The Other Side of Something which includes “The One Thing I Know”.
“Fireflies And Songs” begins with Sara musing about “30 years ago I was a little girl “ hearing a woman singing “you don’t bring me flowers anymore”. As a late 30’s male who grew up listening to that same song when I was a little boy, I immediately identified with Sara’s reference and also having 3 young children, I found every reference amazingly relevant as I’ve also been married for 15 years, same as Sara. She continues with “From This One Place”, which had me praying along with Sara in response to bouts of anxiety. “Different Kinds of Happy” is another one of Sara’s classic songs of vulnerability with these lyrics “I’ve got to ask you something, but please don’t be afraid, there’s a promise here that’s heavier, than your answer might weigh”. “Twice As Good” is a relational song to one of Sara’s friends.
Each of her albums has always had at least one song that pulls my heart strings and brings out an emotional response. From “Maybe There’s A Loving God” to “I Saw What I Saw”, I always expect at least one of Sara’s songs to make me cry. On Fireflies & Songs that song is “It’s Me”. The picture of how a husband and wife hurt each other with emotional wounding words is capped off by Sara’s crying out to the boy she loves “it’s me, baby it’s me, how in the world can tenderness be gone, in the blink of an eye”. The song makes me cry just writing about it. “This House” is written to Sara’s daughter Ruby and is based on Psalm 84:11. The album ends with two of my all-time favorite songs by Sara, “Eyes Wide Open” and “Joy Is In Our Hearts”. “Eyes Wide Open” is confessional with the lyrics “I’ve got layers of lies that I don’t even know about yet” and concludes with “when the lights come up on this town, when the thing goes down, I wanna be telling the truth”. “Joy Is In Our Hearts” is worshipful and was written to encourage believers serving on the front lines of social justice. Sara is an avid supporter of International Justice Mission and Food For The Hungry.
Sara’s excellent songwriting and captivating piano-based singer-songwriter style have made her my favorite female artist in all of Christian music. If you like Nichole Nordeman, Ginny Owens and Bethany Dillon, you must get Fireflies & Songs. For me, the standout songs are “Fireflies & Songs”, “Different Kinds of Happy”, “Eyes Wide Open”, “Joy Is In Our Hearts” and the gut-wrenching “It’s Me”. It’s hard to imagine, but Sara has now once again released her “best” album topping all of her previous excellent work. This is one of my top 10 albums of 2009.
I have enjoyed listening to this release over the years and have found it to be thought provoking, worshipful and enjoyable throughout. I think my favorite song from this release is "Fireflies and Songs", although they are all good.
Pleasant surprise| Posted December 28, 2009
For some reason, I'd always shied away from Sara Groves' music. I heard a song once of hers that I didn't like (can't even remember what it was) and since then I wasn't really enthusiastic about her music. But I have to say, this album changed my mind. Perhaps I've grown to love acoustic musing woman music since Lara Landon's debut this year. All I can say is, don't miss this album. Well done Sara.