Shelley Segal's "An Atheist Album" Is Very Good

Remember this catchy, defiantly anti-religious song we brought to your attention in October?

Well now Shelley Segal’s An Atheist Album is available for downlaod and I have taken a listen to it and I am extremely pleased with it and can totally recommend it if you like the video above at all. I am always wary about “message music”, including stuff that tries deliberately to be about atheism rather than just express secular values (as most contemporary popular music does just fine without being atheist.) Occasionally the lyrics are a little bit too much on the nose but for the most part they feel natural rather than forced or pedantic. And musically, it’s just solid pop music even enjoyable to an indie snob like me. Segal can sing, can write a good melody, and can express anti-theistic/pro-atheistic values in a rousing way. I totally recommend that you support a talented young explicitly atheist indie musician who represents us well.

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • peterh

    Are we in any danger from _____________ if the album is played backwards?

    • Camels With Hammers

      I think this is one of those cases where the gods get angrier if you play it forwards.

  • docsarvis

    Great tune, and the rest of the album is just as good. I purchased it from iTunes. Same price as Amazon and better file quality (MP4 v. MP3). Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  • Emmet

    I feel about this music the way atheists must feel when they’re flicking through the stations and come across the Christian rock station. Sure, it’s “solid pop music”, she can sing, she’s wearing lovely ironic angel wings and a trendy bit of metal in her face etc etc, but it sets my teeth on edge.

    If she’s singing to her atheist friends (or “representing” them … who to? Other atheists?), it seems like it’s all sweet. However, if she’s singing to me (me being a Catholic), she’ll need a better set of lyrics and something more interesting musically to make any impression – don’t forget, she’s going up against hundreds of years of stuff like this:

    so she’ll need far better lines than “I want to know/ … How you think you know that someone is listening to what you are saying” (You want to know how I think I know … Sorry, what?); better rhymes than lives/derives/devised/lies (seems like she’s decided to run with those rhymes and has just thrown in several strands of thought to make it work – “Where does morality come from? And … and what about suffering? Ha! And … lies! Yeah – it’s all lies! That works – cool! Verse two: um…” The bestowing/knowing/going rhymes are worse.); and a better conjunction of form and content – here we have a nice wee poppy tune about getting rid of lies and oppression … it doesn’t work for this listener and I’m surprised it does for you.

    • Alex Songe

      I don’t think deconstructing songs like that is often helpful in figuring out why you like or don’t like music. A lot of songs that are “good” fall apart when deconstructed, and a lot of bad songs probably do better when deconstructed. A piece of work should be taken on the whole. This is why I listen to whole albums from most artists because the album is a whole piece of art, and the weaker songs on the album often play roles in service to the album as a whole rather than good on its own. Just because all the components of a song don’t stand up independently as good art doesn’t mean the song is weak.

      Her songs seem to work for me (this is subject aesthetic, after all), and I might be able to say why upon some investigation…but I’m a fan of experimental pop/rock (like TMBG, for example). That’s pretty much all I can say until I hear her entire album.

    • Emmet

      “A lot of songs that are “good” fall apart when deconstructed, and a lot of bad songs probably do better when deconstructed”.

      That’s true. There are those comics who read song lyrics aloud as part of their act – good songs fall to bits to humourous effect when delivered in this way.

      I’d disagree with you about this: “Just because all the components of a song don’t stand up independently as good art doesn’t mean the song is weak”, thinking that when some or many components of a song fail as good art, the song as a piece of art does too – although it might still work as a pleasant, passing diversion.

      I stand by my comments – the song, on first and subsequent listens, set my teeth on edge as much as many songs with a similar (inverse) Christian message/theme do. Forced rhymes, twee phrasing, no flow (one line has little or no connection the ones before it or after), the words married to an off-the-shelf musical structure and melody … I think it harms the “atheist movement” more than helps it.

  • chiller

    A terrific album that helps voice ideas I have been thinking a long time. I recommend it to anyone!