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Arts & Culture

Simple Songs Of Selflessness And Peace That Aren't Meant For Church

Elizabeth Cave is sure of herself, even if she isn’t sure where her music fits in. “People tell me ‘you should try to play clubs, you should go to these open mic nights,’ but I don’t necessarily know if that’s where this music is meant to be [heard],” says Cave.

As Cave explains, her songs, which often address themes of social justice, come from deeply Christian roots.

“I’ve become very concerned with how governments and people in power treat the poor and disenfranchised of all races, creeds and colors,” Cave says. “When you look at that through a …Christian interpretation, you get songs about selflessness and peace.” 

Cave’s lyrics aren’t completely coded about her faith, but they aren’t exactly ready for a hymnal, either.

And sometimes you gotta trust in it even when it seems like it's not getting you very far.  And sometimes you gotta invest in it even when they seem like the biggest assholes you've ever seen.

There’s a slyness to Cave’s songs that I appreciate, and there’s precedent for faith-based rock music and artists crossing over, from Bob Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” to King’s X and Sufjan Stevens, whom Cave name-checked in our interview. But when asked about her own influences, Cave didn’t identify any musicians, instead citing Wendell Berry, the poet and activist who protested the Vietnam War in the late '60s and has lately engaged in anti-coal rallies and acts of civil disobedience. “Life [itself] can be an expression,” Cave says of her admiration of Berry.

That brings her back to just where her songs might fit in. Referencing her song “Lamentation,” with its refrain of “We are not one nation anymore,” Cave says, “When we did some shows at the Liberty Bar, we ended with that one, and there was just this uncomfortable energy” in the room. “I don’t necessarily want to ruin their evening,” she says with a smile. “I feel like maybe we should crash a Bernie Sanders rally [instead]!”

Clark Stevens piped in to mention they played at a home concert recently for an intimate audience that could focus on the lyrics. It’s an ideal but not common gig. So while they’re still looking for that perfect venue, you can find Cave & Stevens’ album We Are Trees Weary Of War online at their Bandcamp page.