Aug 8, 2017

The Majesty of the Flesh by Lee Bozeman (Review)

The simple fact is that any new music from Lee Bozeman is a gift.

The Majesty of the Flesh - Lee Bozeman
Reviewed…

The Majesty of the Flesh by Lee Bozeman

While Lee Bozeman is probably best known as the frontman for Luxury — whose most recent release was 2015’s excellent Trophies (my full review) — he’s also recorded and released solo material over the years, much of it under the All Things Bright and Beautiful moniker. But The Majesty of the Flesh is Bozeman’s first “official” solo release under his own name, a four-song EP that blends his effortless Morrissey-meets-Thom Yorke croon with searing guitars and spare-yet-gorgeous arrangements

The Majesty of the Flesh isn’t too far removed from Luxury’s sound — Bozeman is obviously playing in familiar music types and tropes — but that’s not to say its songs are trapped in the shadow of Bozeman’s band. Far from it, in fact. For starters, there’s the simple fact that any new music from Bozeman is a gift; no one else sounds like him in Christian music circles (though to be clear, he’s operating far outside the bounds of the Christian music industry) and his lyrics are equally poignant and pointed.

Long-time fans will be familiar with Bozeman’s predilection for writing about faith and the flesh, so it’s no surprise that the EP’s first two songs dive straight into the junction between the two. The title track begins as a celebration of fleshly pleasures as a God-given gift (“Out in the woods in the heart of the night/Giving names to the stars in the sky/We ran in the nude/Barbarian mood!”) only to turn solemn in its final minutes as Bozeman laments how we abuse that gift (“Oh, the majesty of the flesh/I know it’s so complicated/It’s an idol we made, a glorious mess/Who can save us from this body of death?”).

But Bozeman ultimately chooses to focus on the former, and so “I Am My Beloved” is an ethereal ballad celebrating intimacy, ecstasy, and youthful passion. Those things have long been some of rock n’ roll’s favorite subjects, but adding an additional twist here is the fact that Bozeman is an ordained Orthodox priest. As such, the song’s erotic imagery is undergirded by a spiritual sensibility that makes the song far more than just a prurient retelling of sexual experience.

After that opening one-two punch, “Nice Touch” is the EP’s most straightforward track. Backed by crunchy electronics, Bozeman checks off a list of political moves and maneuvers while undercutting the cynicism of such actions with the song’s chorus (“Maybe I’m human, maybe I’m loved”). The EP ends with “The Sound of the Orchestra,” a moody electronic piece where Bozeman ruminates cryptically (as is his wont) on doubt, fears, and anxiety — but does so with a grace that easily matches anything Radiohead’s done on those topics.

I certainly don’t want to put words in Bozeman’s mouth, but I think it’s safe to say he has little interest in being part of any Christian music “scene” or “industry.” Which is a shame, because those arenas could benefit from having more ambitious, searing, and beautiful songwriting like this in the spotlight.

Secular” music circles could benefit from such artistry, too, but I’ve long believed that Christians ought to be at the forefront of the arts since we worship a God Who reveals Himself to be supremely artistic and creative (even within the Bible’s opening chapters). Sadly, that’s a position we relinquished a long time ago. Which means artists like Lee Bozeman (and, by extension, Luxury) frequently operate on the fringes — which is not a judgment of their music’s skill and beauty, but does cause one to lament how their music will remain overlooked or unknown by so many who could enjoy and benefit from it.

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