For me, the test of a CD’s quality is how long I keep it in my van CD player. Jay Calder’s new CD, Vision, has passed that test.
My first experience with Jay was at a Couple’s Night Out event in Kitchener a few years ago. Jay was the “warm-up” act for the evening, which featured Alberta humourist Phil Callaway as the keynote speaker. I was awestruck by Jay’s intricate guitar playing and have been a fan ever since.
It’s a challenge to describe Jay’s music because much of what he does is unique in the musical world. Jay’s a solo artist who uses finger-picking, harmonics, open tuning and percussive strikes to make it sound like there’s more than one person playing. The closest comparator I can think of is Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) pioneer and virtuoso guitarist Phil Keaggy. But even that pales because Jay charts his own waters with his music.
Vision is a compilation of original songs, including the rollicking “Seer’s Jam,” the latin-infused “Sincelejo” and “Norah’s Grace;” and adaptations or arrangements like “Be Thou My Vision,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Breath on Me Breath of God.”
My personal favorites are “The Cupbearer Forgot” based on the story of Joseph’s imprisonment (Genesis 40), “A Longing Fulfilled” and “Silent First Joy Night” a seamless weaving of “Silent Night,” “The First Noel” and “Joy to the World” into one incredible piece.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention veteran producer Roy Salmond’s influence on this CD. Jay describes Roy as “a Canadian treasure…and a monster musically,” assets which shine forth in the quality of the CD’s production.
Instrumentalists often get shortchanged because their music isn’t seen as being radio-friendly for most Christian stations. This is a shame because, as is the case with Vision, the music lifts the listener into the presence of God without lyrics getting in the way. Get a copy of Vision and let Jay Calder’s music lift, encourage and edify you. You’ll find yourself coming back to it time and time again. I know I do.