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Singing Amid Suffering

Sara Groves uses tragedy to explore God's love.

Musician Sara Groves has earned acclaim and admiration for her thoughtful articulation of everyday faith, but has garnered a relatively small fan base. The problem may be her quiet, unassuming folk-pop style, considered too mellow by some for today's contemporary Christian radio. But Groves is attempting to change that image with the aid of producer Brown Bannister (Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman). Thus, Tell Me What You Know (INO); is her most radio-friendly album to date, if not her overall best.

Mainstream popularity is unexpected on an album inspired by Hurricane Katrina, Rwanda genocide, sex trafficking, and International Justice Mission. But Groves uses tragedy and social justice to explore the human condition and the love of God.

She does this with some of her most upbeat music yet, adding soulfulness, faster rhythms, and strong guitar solos to her sound—without compromising her songwriting or signature style.

So the folksy "Say a Prayer," inspired by testimonies of sex trafficking and slavery victims, doesn't leave the listener feeling hopeless. Though sad and evocative ("Childhood runs across the meadow / Taken in the night / Told that you'll be working in the city for a while"), it ultimately points to the sustaining power of prayer.

The album is a testament to perseverance and the essence of faith, as "The Long Defeat" so beautifully illustrates: "We walk a while, we sit and rest, we lay it on the altar / I won't pretend to know what's next but what I have I've offered."

The empowering "In the Girl There's a Room" stands as one of Groves's best, illustrating the "flame" of unwavering hope with a somewhat bluesy edge: "Oh, tell me what you know about God and the world and the human soul / How so much can go wrong ...

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Singing Amid Suffering
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February 2008

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