Bebo Norman likes to restore things. He drives a refurbished Ford Bronco from the 1970s and thinks he’d be good at fixing up old houses someday. And whether it’s clear to him yet or not, he has stripped a storied career in acoustic pop music back down to its basics to create his most impressive album yet; simply titled Bebo Norman.
Many recall the amiable singer/songwriter was an independent artist before that tag was even cool, selling fifty thousand self-made copies of his first record (1996) at coffeehouse shows, out of the trunk, and online. And while his recent decade-long run with a major label brought success after success, he has chosen the road less traveled again by recently signing to Seattle’s decidedly less corporate BEC Recordings.
“The label is managed by a guy who promoted some of my very first concerts,” Bebo says. “So there’s a personal history and a lot of independent thinking there. I am excited by what they’re encouraging creatively.”
Still rooted in the tuneful sensibilities of men like James Taylor or more recently John Mayer, Bebo Norman stretches the artist’s production values, getting edgier and smoother on either side of his folksy inclinations. And there’s a new level of spiritual vulnerability that’s key to the lyrics, often about breathing new life into things that are running ragged.
“There will always be giants of the faith who have gone before me, spoken more eloquently, sung more beautifully, and prayed more poignantly,” Bebo says. “But as I struggle to feel adequate enough to even approach Him, in some miraculous way I’m reminded that the God of the universe thinks my prayers are nothing less than stunning—simply because I am His.”
Indeed, there is much for Bebo Norman to celebrate: his marriage, a three-year-old son Smith and 13-month-old son Miller, and an exciting new chapter in a career that, for the last fifteen years, has always moved in the right direction. But as the new album reminds the listener at every turn, it all hinges on “realizing that faith is not about what we accumulate or accomplish spiritually, but simply a desperate clinging to Christ.”
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