I’ve never written an album review before. Playing drums, bass, mandolin, guitar, singing, rapping—those are things I’ve done for albums. For me, writing is simply a way of expressing things I believe in, which is exactly why I am writing about this self –titled album by “Dear Saint Isaac.” I gladly give my music reviewing virginity to this album.
For almost 10 years, I’ve believed in the music of Symon Hajjar. We’ve gone on several embarrassing adventures, played countless shows and formed a band together in college. Early in our friendship, I asked him to join me in swimming to an island with a lamb. The waters gave us minor hypothermia, the lamb escaped, but I saw something incredibly rare—something I see in this album.
On the island, we lacked food, warmth and shelter. In this, Symon expressed an almost carefree, optimistic demeanor. Instead of plotting for escape, he settled in. This is Symon. He’s a man comfortable in the midst of tension. In fact, I’d say he’s only comfortable in tension.
As long as I’ve known him, I’ve seen this tension, and I see it in this album. Beautifully naked melodies, joyfully layered folk ambience, and a naive attempt to reconcile the contradictions in his heart. This work showcases the pulling of his heart, a longing for a future in Heaven while seeing Heaven today.
“I’m living in a world where everybody is running like hell while Heaving is standing still.”
Just like his response on the island, this album is foolishly optimistic. The lyrics acknowledge our pain, fears and confusion, but the conclusions these songs encourage are strange.
“If you’re anything like me, you’re thoughts are never still.
You stumble into love as you trip over your fears”
While most of us are embarrassed by our fears, or in denial, somehow Symon acknowledges it as a tool to stumble into love. Foolishly optimistic, but that’s just who Symon is. This album embraces the mystery, the contradictions, but ultimately a steadfast confidence in the beauty of it all. Normal people don't come to conclusions like this. Listen to this album to help you articulate the contradictions in your heart, get lost in hopeful anthems, and embrace whatever this life offers. It's a great listen, and I fully suggest you get it.