Good Saint Nathanael's debut is called Hide No Truth, and, as mentioned above, it's a much different type of record for Allen. Previously, you'd be likely to hear songs like "We Talk Occasionally on the Internet" and "Math I Will Defeat You," but the songs of Hide No Truth go through Allen's faith journey, which entails struggling with the Church and the difficult return back to his Christian roots. Due to the much more serious subject matter, the music is significantly toned down (less Calibretto and more Bradley Hathaway), creating not only an extremely different type of live show, but also a much more somber and contemplative listening session. But don't take that to mean that the music is boring, by any means. Instead of upbeat, energetic songs, the listener is instead treated to songs with multiple layers of different types of sounds, provided by a host of Allen's friends and loved ones. Allen's acoustic guitar is the main instrument throughout all nine tracks, but each track brings with it a different type of ambience and atmosphere. Whether it's the really pretty harp in "Everything That's Lost," a broken tape deck in "Concrete," or various types of synthetic and nature sounds in several different tracks, there's always a surprise around the corner and it always fits and hits the right spot.
Allen has been open about the spiritual abuse of his past and his time going through therapy sessions, and this album acts as sort of a journal, detailing Allen's thoughts and emotions, and it doesn't take long to get deep. The second track, "Heaven," pulls no punches calling out the falsehood in some churches ("So I called God on the telephone and said I had enough, after many years of cowering, I'm starting to stand up, to these lies I have much stock in, the foundations of my faith, these holiness traditions, these lies I have to break, for they've separated kindness from Your unconditioned love, they made Your mercy judgment, they've kept You up above"). This is coupled with the mental anguish he was put through by it ("You're dancing with your Jesus, I am crying on the floor, singing songs of celebration, well I'm feeling ignored"). This balance in the lyrics carries on into other songs, as well, but there seems to be a lot more self-blame than finger-pointing (even if it would be justifiable). "Concrete" is an emotionally heavy and haunting song that revists the emptiness of feeling like God isn't listening, even in a place of worship and despite our best efforts. "Making Repairs" kind of goes hand-in-hand with this theme, as Allen sings of trying to fill that void with things that really can't and won't do the job ("I bought an iPod, thought it would fix me, but I haven't plugged it in in two years, I booked a tour, called it vacation, but every time I leave home in tears"). This sentiment is extremely relatable, personally, and it brings a strong sense of conviction with it.
Ultimately, Hide No Truth is hopeful. Though Allen is outspoken about his doubts and trials, there are many moments where he displays his love for Jesus and his desire to live a life devoted to Him. In the aforementioned "Making Repairs," he sings, "So Lord, I give You everything inside of me, the brokenness that I've been trying to hide, like the parts inside of me that I lost when I was running so blind." "Coming Unglued" mainly focuses on the troubles of seeking Jesus, but it's mingled with a desire to try ("The widespread dysfunction that some cannot see, has me questioning God and my sanity, so blessed Lord Jesus, what should I do, they say they love You, and I love You too"). But then there's "Trust," the most vertically-focused, worshipful song of the whole album. It's no Tomlin-esque worship anthem or anything you might hear on K-LOVE or Air-1, but it celebrates the faithfulness of God to help us fight our battles and rescue us from the burden of our anxiety, unbelief, loneliness, and shame. The refrain of "I will trust in the name of the Lord, I will trust in the name" is one of the catchiest portions of the album and has gotten stuck in my head more than once.
So what else can be said about the latest musical incarnation of Nate Allen? Well, if you didn't get it from reading any of the above, you might want to take note that Hide No Truth is not for you if you're looking for constantly happy Christian music. Nor is it for you if you're wanting something new for corporate gatherings and worship services. But if you want to get real about how your emotions and thoughts work in conjunction with your spirituality, and you want to learn more about the struggles that a brother in Christ went through to make it back home, then you would do well to listen to what Good Saint Nathanael has to say. Hide No Truth is a humble, honest, and vulnerable album that deserves your attention.- Review date: 1/20/19, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: None
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