Album Review: Symon Hajjar – “Dear Saint Isaac”

Dear Saint IsaacA good friend of mine asked me to write a review of his new album. I’ve heard him play a few times and have always been impressed, but to be honest my “yes” to writing the review of an album I hadn’t yet heard was a reluctant “yes.” What if I hated it? I can’t very well write that review. Besides, he even tagged his album under the “country” music category. I’m not a country fan. In fact, if I could permanently banish one category of music from the consciousness of mankind it would be country music. Well, actually it would be rap and hip hop, then country.

Then I listened to it. Holy, sweet Jesus, this is an amazing album!

And “Holy, sweet Jesus” was my emotional kneejerk reaction by about the 4th or 5th song. It is a fitting reaction to an album written by an Orthodox Christian packed with honest—often stunningly honest—reflections of a man struggling with faith, love, and disappointment. He’s one of those song writers who can combine words in a way that the rest of us can only achieve in fantasy. Like a true master, he makes his craft look easy. I found myself at many points thinking, “That’s how I feel, exactly how I feel! I could have written this.” Yah, just like I could have painted the Mona Lisa. But one song writing quality I do still possess (after a long childhood obsession with becoming a songwriter), is a fairly strong cliché detector which totally ruins most music for me, particularly so-called “Christian” music. Not only does this album not contain the typical rehearsed clichés, so prevalent in songs with similar stories to tell, he writes with an originality that begs the listener to focus—to cup his hands over his headphones, turn up the volume, and focus.

In sum, Dear Saint Isaac is a truly fascinating peek into the heart of a man broken in anticipation of fulfillment with God; a brokenness that all of those who tread the eager journey with God can relate to. I can’t recommend it enough. Follow this link to hear 4 pre-released tracks.

Symon Hajjar

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