Here is an album I have loved for a long time, since the first time I gave it a good listen. Must’ve been October, junior year of college. I remember driving from Syracuse to Canandaigua to stay a friend’s cabin for the night where they were recording an album.
I got really lost on the dark roads in the valleys – this cabin was tucked in the hills around the lake, and I wasn’t familiar with the terrain, the road names, or how prevalent deer running across country roads really are. Funny, that I learned to know those same roads pretty well just a couple years later.
But that night, that drive, got scary fast. I hate being lost and this was before I had a smartphone and its wonderful GPS navigation. Not that I would’ve had service anyway — I remember trying to call my friends for help and failing to catch a signal. It was getting dark, I was already an hour late, and I was turning down road after road trying to find a main drag, when I was on this skinny stretch of pavement that turned to stone dust that turned to dirt straight into a bunch of trees.
I still remember how the leaves looked, headlights right up against the branches. It was terrifying, the solitude and the darkness. It was oddly beautiful, exhilarating.
But I had this album on, it was something I hadn’t heard yet, and drives are good chance to get a full album listen in without distraction. Not sure what to expect but feeling the need for something new, this was playing even before I started to wonder where I was. I found it awe-inspiring, it played away the anxiety and the tension in that moment of stress of human error, and somehow so much more.
So, in front of those trees, I didn’t freak out (much), I didn’t scream (well only once), and I took a seven-point-or-so-turn to backtrack up the dirt, up the stone dust and onto the pavement and county roads. Sure it was dark, and I didn’t know where I was, but how could I not love what I was seeing, these lands stretched and molded under the bright, bright stars in the clearest navy skies you’ll ever find.
Eventually I found cell service, directions, and a boy and a beer waiting for me at a cabin overlooking the heart of the lake and its western shore. Through it all I heard “Mending” two-and-a-half times through.
The atmosphere The New Frontiers bring is soothing and stilling, but the sentiment is a shade or two deeper than that. It speaks straight from the heart, without being filtered through the pretentious, ego-centric mind. So you get big thoughts and deep thoughts, but they’re loving thoughts, telling the truth and surrendering to honesty. Not afraid to mention Jesus (See “Who Will Give Us Love?”, a song that will truly mend your broken heart when the world’s tragedy feels too much to hear anymore), but hardly preachy.
The softest harmonies you can imagine. Gentle acoustic,amplified on occasion, satisfying resolve. Reflective to the most upmost level, almost “Clarity”-like this album has become to me.
If I had to pick, “Mirrors” is probably my favorite track, because I love bells, and because it is ultimately moving, symphonic in the equal part layers of vocal and melody arrangements. The album is stunning, this song shows why.
“Mending” was the only album The New Frontiers ever released. I wonder if it was because they knew they couldn’t top it. I would like to hear more, maybe, but I don’t need to.
This album kept me from losing it one night, and it has a miraculous ability to do so ever since. Without even noticing, I hear a song come up on a playlist, and I relax and smile; it makes my eyes fill with tears that don’t spill over and my heart feels a little lighter and I remember peace.
“This is the house where you were born,
These rooms seem smaller than before.
Turned 22 when were you found,
Shattered and broken on the ground.
They will rob you blind
They will take your peace of mind
And you’ll want to run away from here.I know you can’t escape from all of your fears,
I made my peace with the world and all that it brings,
Holding my own.
We saw a spark within your eyes,
Your face reflected in the light,
We are all angels in the sky,
We are all mirrors in disguise.
We will lift you up,
We will place you on your feet,
We will pick you up,
We will never let you go.
When you want to run away from here,
I found you can’t escape from all of your fears.
I’ve made my peace with the world and all that it brings,
Holding my own.“
The New Frontiers, Mending