Way back in another lifetime, I wrote a paper for a theology course in which I intimated that God is present and visible in all things – and was roundly roasted by my professor for borderline heretical thinking. So hearing “In Everything,” the first single from Annie Sumi’s new album “In the Unknown,” definitely took me back to that former life (in a good way – I still retain my heretical self).
The themes of finding the divine in everything, and of caring for the world around us with that in mind, are woven through Sumi’s gorgeous songs. How, indeed, would we behave differently toward those around us and toward the planet on which we live, if we kept that in mind? That, to me, is one of the core messages on this album.
Between Sumi’s beautiful guitar and the string arrangements accompanying many of the songs on the album, “In the Unknown” provides a gorgeous, soothing listening experience. Indeed, the instrumentation on this project is one of its many virtues – the strings offer a perfect counterpoint to the songs, giving emphasis or gentle reinforcement where needed. Sumi’s equally lovely voice is also a terrific instrument itself – strong, tender, angry, or wistful by turns.
“Evaporating Life” opens the project with musings not on beginnings, but on endings – of life, of relationships. The song also launches another theme – flowing water – that runs (pun unintentional) throughout a number of the songs. Here, life runs into a waterfall; in several instrumental interludes throughout the album, water is also an aural presence.
“Get By” provides a rich meditation on lives that don’t turn out the way we imagine they will, and the circumstances in which so many of us find ourselves – so different from our plans. “Nightingale,” another highlight of the album, reflects on the disappointments that love so frequently brings – Sumi calls herself “full of broken melodies, waiting for the day I’m a nightingale.”
“In Everything” is the song to which I keep returning as I listen to the album – not only because Sumi gives such gorgeous voice to thoughts I’ve harbored for years, but because it”s an articulate, lush expression of things that we have perhaps forgotten. Sumi herself has said, “I believe we should all strive to make our world a better place, and feel blessed to be able to inspire positive change through song.” She has made a great start on that goal with this album – beautiful not only musically but also lyrically.