None of these are truly “indie” in the traditionally independent meaning, I suppose. They are more independent or nontraditional Christian releases, which is why I’ve labelled them “indie.” In the Christian airplay market, most things that don’t get play might as well be independent.
Regardless, these are some favorites from the last several years, and for a variety of reasons. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Phillip LaRue – Let the Road Pave Itself (2009)
When I was in high school, there was this brother-sister duo that we kind of listened to called “LaRue,” based upon the duo’s last name (naturally). Some good stuff, but not necessarily earth-shattering. Enter Phillip LaRue’s first solo release a few years ago – something changed in a big way. This collection of songs is honest and raw in a way that few ever are in a culture that often appreciates more polished offerings. Favorite tracks include “Chasing the Daylight,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Running So Long” and “Mountains High Valleys Low.” This is one of the few recent albums I can listen to from end-to-end, as each track is beautiful and (for most of them, at least) haunting in its own way. “Black and Blue” is about as emotionally wrenching as it comes, questioning God’s involvement in the roughest of days. Stunningly beautiful.
Adam Watts – Sleeping Fire (2006)
This guy name Jeremy Camp used to have a drummer named Adam Watts. Watts started releasing his own music starting with 2004’s The Noise Inside, and kind of branched off to do more of his own thing. Sleeping Fire is a bit more polished than Watts’ first album, and a bit more focused thematically. Many of the songs center on the idea that we’re inching our way through life, in faith, and illuminate the humanity in us all that Christ came to redeem. “Invisible Light” is one of my favorite songs, perhaps of all time. I also heartily enjoy “Fly Fall Fly,” “Bear With Me,” and “Real for Me,” and essentially the whole album.
Caedmon’s Call – Share the Well (2004)
This is one of those albums that matter. Caedmon’s set out on a series of international missions trips that led to the concept for this album. They incorporated native musicians, traditional styles, and global-consciousness into this incredible offering of songs. The band’s emphasis that the same God exists over all peoples is humbling in “There’s Only One (Holy One).” Christ’s sufficiency for all of those peoples is conveyed in the deep-reaching “All I Need (I Did Not Catch Her Name)” and “The Roses.” Scattered interludes by native musicians make this a project to listen to in order for full effect, and lead gracefully from song to song. Other favorites: “Volcanoland,” “Bombay Rain,” and “Wings of the Morning.”
Andrew Peterson – Resurrection Letters, Vol. II (2008)
You might ask where the first volume is if you ever start to look for it, but Peterson still hasn’t released a first volume to prelude this one. But that’s okay. This album stands just fine on its own. For much of our second year of marriage, Chris and I listened to this album as our alarm in the mornings. It is one of Peterson’s most polished releases, with great production value and the honest but fine-tuned tracks for which he is well-known. Favorites include “Invisible God,” “Hosea,” “Rocket,” and “The Good Confession (I Believe).” Peterson is a music-crafter. He is one of the many that inspire me to create things that matter, and make me weep when I hear those that do.