Opposites Attract

Swamp Ophelia is a plant; it’s an actual plant," explains Indigo Girl Emily Saliers about the band’s newest release, Swamp Ophelia. "I was walking through a nature preserve and I saw this plant," Amy Ray adds. "When you think of Hamlet, Ophelia, and swamp, it all mixes together. We thought it sounded cool."

Swamp Ophelia is mellow, comforting, and soulful. Compared with past Indigo albums, it’s less angry, at times more abstract, and mixed with a myriad of instruments. But the strong suit on this record is, again, Amy and Emily’s raw, righteous blend of acoustic guitar and angelic harmony mixed with lyrics that pack a punch.

The album in general feels like a respite for listeners who take a daily dose of the world’s pain and need some breathing space. The lyrics and melody are served up with the cognition of grief in society, but with a personal message of reassurance and hope offered outright. Rather than stirring angry emotions about what’s wrong with the world and issuing a call to activism, this new album triggers a reflection on how life can be a beautiful blessing.

One cut on the album, "The Wood Song," has a radical and, in my interpretation, explicitly Christ-ian message of costly discipleship. It refers to Noah’s ark, its difficult journey, and at times the frailty of the vessel: "The wood is tired, and the wood is old and we’ll make it fine if the weather holds, but if the weather holds, then we’ll have missed the point, that’s where I need to go." The song announces a faith in God, "No way construction of this tricky plan was built by other than a greater hand" and the need to sift through life’s suffering to reach "the prize at the other side."

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Sojourners Magazine August 1994
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