Many years ago I picked up my father's Yamaha acoustic. The strings suffered immensely due to my deplorable technique, but eventually I managed to finagle a few songs out of the thing and document them on my parents' cassette player.
Thankfully, none of those songs are on this album.
Written, produced, performed, recorded, and mixed by Suhail Stephen at home except "For Joe," which was recorded and mixed by Daniel White at Wheaton College with the invaluable assistance of Robb and Ethan Robbins on cello and violin, respectively.
Mastered by John Laudon.
I am greatly indebted to Max Kleinau, who was kind enough to listen to mix after mix and graciously offer his sage advice, and to John Laudon, who was wonderfully patient with me in the mastering process and for whose wisdom, humility, and friendship I am especially grateful. Thank you also to my dear family and friends - both near and far - for carrying me and for the overtures of encouragement and support. Last, I owe deepest gratitude to God, without whom I'd have fairly little life, movement, or being to speak of. Thanks for being my home.
Been in cocoons for so long
Wings foreshadowed, yet to form
So we push on in the darkened air
Are these caesuras or graves?
Turns of misfortune or fate?
Nobody said life would come out grey
Stand on the floorboard of hope
Hear every doubt creak below
For what do we fight and for what let go?
I'm trying to throw it all in
To summer and fall, winter and spring
I'm ceding control to their windy hymn
In night and day
Some eyes must see these shadows
Track Name: In Painted Homes
A house doesn't cover what lives inside a man
A prison or a palace won't change what's within
For guilt finds the heart no matter where the home
We can rush as fugitives, the verdict's in our bones
I met someone who took somebody's head
He rolled it on the railroad tracks, then wept in bed
How can a man find it himself
To usher in forgiveness for crime so grotesque?
Rivulets of shame crept down his face
So which of the sons possesses greater worth?
I've been told sin is sin, so who's is worse?
But I longed to hold a murderer's embrace
To dribble a baptismal through his roof of disgrace
We can never pardon what were our transgressions
Track Name: Cavatina
For unto us a son is given
And the government shall be upon his shoulders
Ride upon his back till the end of his days
He will not bend tender reeds
Smoldering wicks won't be blown upon
This man of sorrows will be sheared then slaughtered
Will close his mouth
Track Name: These Forests Hide Secrets
These forests hide secrets
The bark bears the teeth marks
And I saw a boy
Shoveling clay in his mouth
The seeds must fall
But the soil is a graveyard
When the plowshares arrived
Limbs of the dead were exposed
A swallow's wings
As frail as ashes in the wind
Will fold and break against the bars
A crease in the mountains
A village of prisoners
Their eyes are required
To witness a man hang to death
This landscape holds terror
That words can't imagine
And I saw a boy
Stripping the clothes from a corpse
Have you ever seen a human in a cage?
Would it be a different feeling or the same?
Are we willows weeping just to bend away?
Or will we clench the bars and pull with all our weight?
These forests hide secrets
Let the trees clap their hands
Let the stones cry aloud
And let the mountains be burst
Track Name: Draw, Breathe
It was a hot summer's day in the sun of Samaria
Just after lunch when the locals lie down in the shade
I went alone to the well of the city
On a plot of Jacob's old ground
And I saw a man, he was tired from a journey
Sitting looking lonely at me
Just trying to make ends meet
Not meaning no harm
Just looking for a drink
Track Name: Upon the Mountains
We've all had sorrow's arrows through our hands
The blood, like wax, caking our fingertips
Horses abandoned our chariots, leaving the yolks in our laps
We withered and hung half-mast in the desert night
Shivers from misery's ghosts in our chambers
Haunting the hollows of our hearts
Slowly-formed icicles upon our eyelids
Pulling them down to the ground
We long for someone warm to kiss our frozen eyes
We are the vessels at sea
Strong in our vague memories
Dying to live
Pulled by the fingers of waves
Our wooden shoulders assailed
Leaving us shards and splints
And as we gasp for our days
Our fickle arms course with ache
As we sink down
Upon the mountains
There is a rider
On a white horse, in wings of dawn
Track Name: A Poem for the New Year
See, the drapes of fog
Enfold the boat below
But once when waves gave way to oars
I heard the lilt of ancient notes
So I pushed and pulled
And heaved with sailor's urge
To hear, to feel, to know once more
The song somewhere beyond the river bend
I waited for you to come home
Tides receding still return
A song is not its source
It too will run its course
And when the mezzanine dissolves
I'll touch again whatever was