Music at Mars Hill is a weekly column by Luke Larsen that seeks to find God amidst the newest trends in both mainstream music and independent music.
Rumspringa, which literally means “jumping around” or “running around”, is a term used commonly in Amish and some Anabaptist communities to refer to the coming-of-age adolescence time in a young person’s life. Canon Blue, the the orchestral pop solo project of Daniel James, recently released his sophomore album with that same title and seeks to be a musical embodiment of that term.
While the album stays away from much spiritual or religious thematic content, Rumspringa definitely feels like a release of untamed energy. In the same vein as Sufjan Stevens or Owen Pallett, Canon Blue is a breed of orchestral pop artist that focuses as much on the “orchestral” as it does on the “pop”. While you won’t hear Canon Blue stray from the typical pop song structure, the album is still bursting with rebellion and youthful ambition. In some ways, it sounds like a young singer-songwriter discovering the depths of the symphony orchestra for the first time or conversely, the music of a classically-trained music student being redeemed from the shackles of a stuffy music academy.
Also ala Sufjan Stevens, Canon Blue takes us on a musical road trip of sorts. With each song being named after a different American city, the sounds and orchestral instrumentation really resonate with character. There is immense joy and unbridled excitement about life, but also deep pain and introspection. By the time you arrive in Davenport and find yourself floating in watery piano chords, you feel as though you’ve truly arrived somewhere, like the end of a summer road-trip or even the end of specific era in life.
Rumspringa was a good reminder to me that there is a time for all kinds of phases in life and its okay to be live out and celebrate those phases. If you are doing your best to live without regrets and fears in life, it doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old. We are all in different phases of our lives and it would do us a great favor to be okay with that. Take a listen to part of the journey below, but make sure to pick up the whole album over at iTunes.