All too often in the world of contemporary Christian music, things are presented with a healthy dose of whitewash, erasing any sense of pain or discomfort that this life brings and heavily emphasizing a rose colored glasses version of the Christian life. Of course, the converse is true as well with others, leaning far too into the darker moments of life while leaving out any glimmer of hope in the interest of coming across as “authentic.” Yet, every now and then there comes an artist like Australian singer-songwriter Nathan Tasker who ably toes the line between the light and the dark on his latest record, Man On a Wire.
Produced by Paul Moak (Third Day, Mat Kearney), the album finds Tasker mining his personal life for material and it’s a poignant and powerful experience as the artist expresses a myriad of emotions and questions borne by the loss of twin babies that he and his wife suffered in 2011.
“My hope is that this album would be honest and authentic, and representative of the entire Christian life,” he shares,”One in which our God uses the full spectrum of colors (emotions, experiences) at His disposal to shape us and make us more like His Son, Jesus.”
Inspired by that dark, harrowing moment of life when Tasker and his wife were told that their twins might not survive, “Trust You in the Darkness” starts off the record with a plaintive confession of surrender, laying forth faith even in the face of oppression while the title track follows hard after with a warm, radio friendly vibe that really captures the heart of the record, showcasing believers’ constant wrestling match with the highs and lows of life. “Closer” is a track of faith, sharing that “every time I open my eyes, You get closer” while “Sowing Tears,” inspired by a sermon from Tim Keller, is a heartfelt showcase of honesty colored with hope.
“No one wants the sorrow like a call like this brings,” Tasker sings on “Rise,” a track recalling the death of his wife’s father that draws itself up through bright, hopeful keys and rousing guitars that find celebration in the passing of a believer in spite of the pain. But it’s “Nowhere to Be Found” that is the greater highlight here, Tasker making the most human of accusations of God in his grief, wondering where God was in his time of hurting, a somber, acoustic flavored arrangement supporting the heavy lyric that captures the heartbeat of anyone who’s loved or lost.
Changing gears, “Whole World” is an acoustic guitar driven ditty that finds Tasker laying it all down, bridging in the classic children’s song to hammer home it’s point with a warm, almost playful smile while “No Good Reason” reminds listeners of the immense grace of God, our very lives a gift, while accenting the message with rich guitars and thudding drums. Complimenting that theme, “You Will Not Forsake Me” employs some swells of steel guitar and warm keys to express God’s deep, undying faithfulness as “All The While” follows the trail of the Psalms, moving from lament to life giving worship on the song co-written by Mia Fieldes. And with the sparse, spacious arrangement of the slow building “Voice I Long to Hear,” Tasker echoes the longing of each and every follower of Christ, “to collapse before the Son, just to hear the words ‘Well done.’”
Nathan Tasker is an impressive singer-songwriter who has lived through some years of pain and suffering that no one should ever have to endure. Yet, through his faith and the support of his community, Tasker has come out on the other side and has turned his mourning into dancing, finding the truth of God to be greater than the pain and sorrow he’s endured. And on Man On a Wire, he invites us all to draw from the lessons he’s learned.