Originally released in 1991 by the late, great Blonde Vinyl Records, L.S.U.‘s This Is the Healing is one of those albums. I was introduced to it when I was a college sophomore, several years after its release, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. With its stripped down approach — some songs are little more than guitar, stark drum machine, and Michael Knott’s inimitable voice — and searing lyrics, This Is the Healing is one of my favorite Michael Knott-related releases.
Opening track “Miracle” immediately grabs you with its stories of broken, fearful people in sore need of divine intervention. However, the ambiguity and anxiety in Knott’s lyrics — “Connie can’t stop crying/It’s almost two years now/She prays and prays and weeps to wail/Yet God has given to no avail” — were a far cry from the CCM stuff I grew up on, but they resonated with my own doubts and fears in a way that DC Talk and other youth group staples never could.
I’ve written about “G.G.G.” before, but suffice to say, its stunning, even potentially offensive plea for love and understanding has lost none of its power. And the title track, with its blunt-yet-poetic lyrics (“You’ve tried to philosophize your pain/But the hurt’s in your heart and not in your brain”), is the sort of “inspirational” that I wish more Christian music would strive to be.
Of course, this being a Michael Knott album, there’s plenty of weirdness, too, that might turn off even longtime Knott fans. “War” employs churning/slashing guitars and operatic vocals (courtesy of Bridget Knott) while Michael Knott sings/raps lyrics that reference Saddam Hussein (this was during the Gulf War, mind you) alongside Cain and Abel. Those operatic vocals return on “Hummingbird,” singing in Italian, French, and German alongside droning guitars and industrial beats in what has to be one of the strangest moments in the entire Michael Knott discography (and that’s saying something).
For better or worse, This Is the Healing often feels like several different albums smashed together. There are the poignant, emotional songs (“Miracle,” “G.G.G.”), the more experimental ones where Knott lets his concepts run wild (“Hummingbird”), and some roiling post-punk (“Loved One,” “Shallow”) thrown in for good measure. In sum, This Is the Healing works as both a fascinating slice of history from the fringes of Christian music as well as an emotional work that, in its best moments, is thought-provoking, insightful, and yes… even healing.
This Is the Healing was recently remastered and reissued on vinyl by Young Earth Records, which has previously reissued other Michael Knott-related albums, including Wakin’ Up the Dead and Heaven High.