Magazine article The Christian Century

Indigo Girls: Faith, Love, Politics

Magazine article The Christian Century

Indigo Girls: Faith, Love, Politics

Article excerpt

WITH Become You, the Indigo Girls' first studio album in five years, the duo has returned to its acoustic roots. Amy Ray and Emily Saliers share songwriting and singing duties evenly. While dealing overtly with social issues, the pair is haunted by an awareness of a God who may or not be there. Their faith was most overt in the 1994 album Swamp Ophelia, where Saliers sings, "No way construction of this tricky plan / was built by other than a greater hand / with a love that passes all our understanding / watching closely over the journey" ("The Wood Song").

Even Saliers's love songs echo with biblical and theological themes. In "Deconstruction," loss of love is intensified by its relation to a loss of faith. "As for the truth it seems like we just pick a theory / The one that justifies our daily lives." She concludes, however, with an affirmation: "We're just one speck of sand / And back to the hourglass we're going / Back to the smallness of our deconstruction of love / We thought it was changing, but it never was." Although we disbelieve, love remains a constant.

Ray is known for angrier songs about human rights, racism and war. On this album she tones down her approach somewhat, but her activism still appears. The title track takes on the duo's Georgia heritage. Their homosexuality and left-wing politics have always put them at odds with their roots. "Our southern blood, my heresy, damn that ol' confederacy.... All your daddies fought in vain, leave you with the mark of Cain." Though violent in her denunciation, Ray is more mournful than angry. The acoustic setting and Saliers's soothing harmonies moderate the harshness of the lyrics, and the song is less a vilification of the South than a personal declaration of independence.

Ray and Saliers have experimented with various musical styles in the past, including Native American chanting on "Shaming of the Sun" (1997). …

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