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Andrew Osenga, “The Painted Desert”

January 31st, 2018 | 2 min read

By Matthew Loftus

This year, I’m hoping to keep this blog more active with short posts about stories and essays I’ve been reading, but I also want to share more music. I love writing and listening to music and there’s a lot of great music out there that I think a lot of my readers would enjoy.

So today I want to start with a record that I just got: Andrew Osenga’s The Painted Desert.

Andrew is one of my favorite songwriters of all time. Some of you might remember a few years ago when I went down to Nashville to help him build a spaceship-cum-studio behind his favorite burrito place (no, really) that he used to record his masterpiece, Leonard the Lonely Astronaut. I was remain disappointed that Leonard wasn’t actually a sci-fi concept album, but it still has some of Andrew’s very best songwriting. (I’ll write a whole post about it soon, don’t worry.)

The Painted Desert is a different sort of record, and to be completely honest I tend to favor Andrew’s rock-ier stuff like Leonard. But it’s still beautiful and (I think) necessary: when the most popular Christian music toys with sorrow and struggle (and often sounds contrived and shallow), Andrew jumps into both feet-first. It isn’t easy to write about dry times – times when you’re longing for God but hearing nothing, trying to talk to friends but not really finding the words, aware of how inadequate you are but still struggling to do something about it.

Nothing particularly awful or tragic happened to Andrew to prompt this, and he didn’t make a record to wrestle with that sort of devastation. He did manage, however, to write a record that captures the mundane, everyday struggles those of us with kids and a job are constantly wrestling with: paying attention to the world around us and not getting lost in our phones. Learning to listen to friends who are grieving without trying to solve their problems for them. Not being consumed by anxiety. Loving others even when we’re tired of being hurt.

Here’s some more specific thoughts from a great Rabbit Room interview.

Right now Andrew’s running a Kickstarter right now to pay the people who helped him make the record, but unlike a lot of Kickstarters you’ll get the record right away if you pledge! He’s pretty close to his goal and I’m pretty sure a lot of you reading would love this record enough to help him cross the finish line.

Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at