I always hear a sad aching in the songs of Sarah Blasko. Even at her happiest, her voice is tinged with melancholy. I understand she was a Christian in her youth, and her music has the sound of faith and certainty lost, the plunge into a dreamy world of beautiful sadness.
“I awake”, the first track released from her forthcoming album has the lines:
No one knows just why we’re here
Embrace the doubt and face the fear
It’s all about the inner search
There’s profundity mixed with cliche here, and I feel she delivers these lines in a tone that sounds too flippant. Yet I’m sure they come out of deep struggle, and her flippancy could be irony.
‘No-one knows just why we’re here’ is a haunting line. It’s haunting because I feel our plight is haunting. I can say, even as a committed Christian, that existence is mysterious, and that no-one knows for sure why we’re here. Faith is living with a particular answer as to why we’re here.
What does it mean to ‘embrace the doubt and face the fear’? A state of doubt as the best response to uncertainty? I choose to embrace faith rather than doubt, but I understand why she would go the other way. One thing I respect in Blasko’s lyrics is a determination to face the fear, to express the mystery of existence, when too few singers ask big questions.
But to sing ‘it’s all about the inner search’ is to reduce the search for meaning to a private affair. Later in the song she adds:
I’ve tried to make this life my own
To find myself, I’ve searched alone
I came to a conviction a long time ago that the meaning of life is not found on our own – that it is found in community and in covenant. It’s an insight that needs to be freshly recovered, as our milieu’s individualism (which this song is so full of) is infectious, isolating.
I half await, half dread her new album. I’ll listen to it too many times and her beautiful sadness will get into my head.