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Cool Hand Luke: The Sleeping House

Christian music still has a soul. That’s the thought that leaps to my mind as I listen to frontman …

Christian music still has a soul. That’s the thought that leaps to my mind as I listen to frontman, Mark Nicks, stretch his voice across the opening chords of “Cast Your Bread,” the second track on the newly released Sleeping House album. The Sleeping House is the first effort for Cool Hand Luke on their new label Lujo Records … and it’s excellent.

I have to admit, I have known Nicks for a couple of years– he’s crashed at my community house, eaten my food, and gotten lost with my lame directions in downtown Chicago, and we’ve chatted when times have gotten tough. Some folks would say that makes me biased–I say it makes me informed.

When I hear Nicks sing the words:

I’ve been so many people to so many people…
but i Just want to be who you want me to be.

I know he means it. I know he lives it … I know we’re all getting a clear picture of Nick’s contemplative, and pure heart.

So if your interested in delving deep into the mind of a guy who personifies the anti-rock star. A guy who is quietly, and sometimes painfully, searching for answers–and has the ability to put his experiences, questions, and voice, over some seriously dynamic pieces of music…

The Sleeping House is right up your alley.

Here’s my review of Cool Hand Luke’s The Sleeping House.

A soul laid bare over piano keys, and electric guitars. That’s The Sleeping House. The beauty of this album is not in the catchy rifts (although there are quite a few). The beauty of The Sleeping House is the transparency with which it is written and performed. Cool Hand Luke has a driving piano style, influenced by NIcks’ hard-core music background. It makes for an interesting sonic adventure.

Unlike most music I hear, The Sleeping House is complex. Too complex for my humble reviewing talents. Most of the songs on the album have some narrative about life … not simply expressing one emotion or thought. Each song seems to have a journey of its own and the album acts as a collection of those journeys. I highly recommend having the lyrics around as you listen–it makes the experience richer.

The album starts with an entire instrumental track– which is ironic for a band with so much to say. It sets the mood and helps me slow down. It’s a soil tiller. I feel as if I’m descending into deep waters. Ahhh, the beautiful mixing of metaphors.

Some highlights from the album include “Failing in Love,” a song about telling the truth, and difficulties it can bring. The preacher in me resonates with its thought pattern … plus I dig the grinding flow of the beat. “Buy The Truth” is a song I believe will be the first single–and rightly so. It ponders the affects of selling religion. When Nicks sings, “Wave at the crowds who give me their money like it was religion,” I want to stand up and scream–yes, yes, yes!

Once again the preacher in me comes out.

Other notable tracks include “The Mirror,” a song about Nicks’ ability to be a chameleon and his efforts to remember who he really (and simply) is. “Wonder Tour” has a Beatles vibe, which works for this song–and it has a couple zinger lines. Which I love too. It ends with:

“To the paychecks we have trusted … instead of You”

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ZING.

In general, the album is probably not something you blast at an event. It’s probably not perfect to be played in a Sunday morning worship set–although if you could pull one off for a special you would have something, well, special. No, this album is something you listen to when your ready to think and grow and be challenged and inspired. This album will move you, if you slow down to let it soak into your pores. I recommend slowing down. It’s worth it.

Overall The Sleeping House is a complex look at a complex world, through the eyes of a complex man–with a simple faith. Like life, The Sleeping House, has its dark moments (when I fired it up my laptop–my intern asked me, “Is that Trent Reznor? That’s some cool dark music!”

Ultimately, this album truly is the journey of a hopeful heart, it paints the picture of a heart that chooses to point itself toward hope. Through every song’s story–and through the whole album’s journey–there is Hope. And if you ask Mark Nicks I’m sure he would tell you…

Hope has a name.

Check out The Sleeping House –Available today on iTunes or at Lujo Records

For a tasty sample check out the Cool Hand Luke’s new single “Buy the Truth.”

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