From my new article in Our Sunday Visitor about Sam Rocha and his new album, Late to Love:
[Rocha] experienced his first high liturgy at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Columbus, Ohio, and a whole new aesthetic world opened up. “I felt like I walked out of the folk tradition and walked into a marble hall,” he said. “It helped me process the idea that there is a bigger Church out there.”
But stark aesthetic contrasts can sometimes be deceptive. “Whenever I heard a High Mass,” Rocha said, “I would say, ‘No more guitars at Mass for me!’” But then his family moved to a tiny town in Indiana, where the Mass had no music at all. “It was so sad and little,” Rocha said. So he brought in his guitar, and returned once again to his Mexican roots.
Since then, he’s been trying to reconcile all his various aesthetic experiences of the Church — the folk music of his Mexican parents, the slicker sound of Life Teen and the charismatic movement, and his hard-won love of jazz, which he deliberately cultivated out of a desire to understand as much about music as he could.
Read the rest at OSV and check out the Augustianian funk of Late to Love here.
If you’re even peripherally involved with Catholic media, you will know that peculiar dread that goes thrilling down your spine when you hear the words, “Can I send you a copy of my new Catholic [album, book, movie, interpretive dance instructional booklet, etc.].
Because you know, as surely as you know your own name, that it’s going to suck. It’s going to be Catholic, and it’s going to be well-intentioned, and it’s going to do its darndest to combat the darkness and evil that has such a firm foothold in popular entertainment . . . and it’s going to suck. It will be poorly produced, and would never stand up on its own merits. But you’re supposed to “support” it, because it’s Catholic.
So, I put off listening to Sam Rocha’s Augustinian* soul album, Late to Love, which debuts today. I’ve been putting it off for months. But today I finally clicked on tracks that you can hear online here. And I am kicking myself for waiting.
Because it’s good. Really good. It’s clean, it’s tight, it’s professional.These are real musicians; he’s a real singer, with a supple, smoky voice. It’s original and soulful, the lyrics are smart, the sound is solid and occasionally unexpected, and it’s really, really Catholic. Give a listen! Sam is smart and funny, educated to the gills, and kind of a smart ass. And he totally gets that it’s not enough to be Catholic, you also have to be good at what you do.
*Check out the background for the album cover, above. Recognize that color and texture? Hint: Augustine . . . fruit . . .