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Last night, my darling daughter Darby and I had an opportunity to listen to Samantha Ray and Jess Ray celebrating the 5th anniversary of Nancy Ray Photography at the delightful Sola Coffee Cafe. Overall it was a lovely evening. Sola Coffee did a great job hosting. As is too often the case in these venues, the patron’s inability to moderate their talking was the only thing that marred the evening. I expect folks to converse, but I would have thought they would do so in more hushed tones. Not so much. As somewhat of a side note, they have Counter Culture’s Finca Kilimanjaro coffee. It had the typical lyrical description of the nuanced flavors that you often see: it “…delivers pristine notes of notes of tamarind, tangerine, and fig.” The difference this time is that it really did have those undercurrents of flavor, especially the tangerine. Wow.

Sam and Jess Laughing @ Sola Cafe

Back to the task at hand: singing the praises of the praise worthy: Samantha & Jess; two quite different singers who came together in a wonderful way. Samantha has this lyrical voice whose tone is honey and whispers. Samantha Ray is one of those songwriters who evokes pictures and glimpses of meaning than explicitly drawing it all out.

Royalty Cover

Her album, Royalty evokes the everyday infused with grace and light from God. A great example of this is Open Doors:

I want to be there with the door open, letting the wind in all afternoon. Just takin’ it easy. Don’t take much to please me. The sound of the dishes and you laughing in the other room. Let’s take our time there I’ll me you right there. ‘Cause I want to be there. Then you’ll take my hand and hold it like the old days. Then stop in a light sway to your heart beating. I get lost in your breathing. I must be dreaming. 

Let’s take our time. I’ll meet you right there. ‘Cause I want to be right there, living with the joy of your love.

She is an utter delight to hear. I especially enjoyed her unique covers of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Kimbra’s Settle Down toward the end of  the evening.

Jess Ray and the Rag Tag Army

Jess is a somewhat more aggressive singer/songwriter with a bigger voice. She is more direct in her lyrics yet still invoking pictures in our mind. Her namesake album, Jess Ray and the Rag Tag Army’s track Come As You Are, paints a clear and accurate picture of our hurt and pain in this veil of tears and the comfort of knowing Jesus and the world to come:

I lay in the dark and in the dust of an abandoned house, curled up on the floor, just a shadow in the corner, marked in scars and wounds, sunken eyes and bruises, alone and confused.

You see, the weight and the will of the world beat me up and tore me down. The cheap thrills, that kill, chewed me up and spit me out and I spent everything I had on things that didn’t last and I’m the saddest of the sad. And I cried.

And when I cried you heard me, when I called you were listening, so you came to find me, yeah you came find me. And there were footsteps on the floor and you were filling up the doorway. “Oh my God your coming towards me!” and you were calling me by name, calling me by name. 

We come by His gracious enabling to recognize and respond to his call of healing.

I love the raw honesty of “Only One“:

You know me better than I know myself
I’m a fist tight, knuckle white kind of fighter
And we both know that I wont come willingly

This could be a suicidal plea, this could be a suicidal plea,
But it”s the only thing that can change me…

Her use of water, wind and fire as pictures of how the Lord interacts with us is beautiful.

It was terrific to see two image-bearers of God reflect that image in beautiful and unique ways. It was also great to be in a really cool cafe with local music (despite my fellow patrons chatting).

Given my love of writing and books, I’ll leave you with:

Writer's Nook @ Sola Cafe

Writer’s Nook @ Sola Cafe