Press Release: "Really Only Dust"
FayBN - rap vocals on "Unconditional"
Tim Gordon - tenor saxophone on "Joy Jaz"
Jude Amazon - additional background vocals on "So Good", "I Get The Joy" & "Joy Jaz", electric guitar on "I Get The Joy" & "Joy Jaz"
Really Only Dust - lead and background vocals, keyboards and arrangements
Val Woods - additional background vocals on "So Good"
Produced by Really Only Dust
Lyrics and music by Really Only Dust
© 2017 Really Only Dust Publishing (BMI)
All songs mixed and mastered by Really Only Dust
℗ 2017 Really Only Dust. All rights reserved.
About the album:
Jose Fajardo and Johann Strauss aren’t among the typical influences listed by Christian recording artists. But for Really Only Dust (ROD), they were a major part of his childhood obsession with music. It’s not surprising then that some of those influences would find their way into his first release of original contemporary Christian music.
“I grew up listening to Latin and Classical albums from my parents’ music collection. And I heard a lot of secular pop music on the radio too, so that’s probably why I wrote and produced secular music for so many years”, he recalls," but after I became a Christian I had no desire to write any more secular music. At the same time, I didn’t feel confident writing Christian lyrics because I didn’t know the Bible well enough yet. I think my writing has now matured to the point where I can speak to a wider audience.”
Drawing much of his lyrical inspiration from the Bible, he paints a portrait of an awesome loving God and of himself as one who once was lost but now is found because of Jesus. Using judicial terms, “Condemned No More” takes the listener to a heavenly court where the Judge dismisses all charges against defendant ROD because Jesus paid the debt for him. There’s lots of theology packed into the lyrics, but it’s wrapped in a Caribbean flavored pop music track that has ROD figuratively dancing for joy in the courtroom.
“Freedom In Christ” continues the Caribbean pop music theme and the judicial allegory, but this time the song is a prayer thanking God for the freedom that Jesus brought him from enslaving lusts. “Help Me” is another prayer, this time in an intimate and somewhat ethereal jazz-like ballad, calling on the Holy Spirit to strengthen him in moments of weakness and despair.
With a catchy reggae hook and featuring a Christ-exalting and highly inspired vocal break performed by singer/rapper FayBN, “Unconditional” explores the subject of God’s unconditional love through the doctrine of sovereign election and predestination- a topic that few modern Christian songs address. “Glorified” employs more of a traditional hymn structure, celebrating the glory of Jesus in his resurrection and ascension, but with ROD’s high-energy vocals and screaming alternative rock guitar and Motown drum track driving the beat.
“Joy Jaz” showcases the talent of jazz guitarist Jude Amazon, whom ROD describes as “one of the most gifted players I’ve ever worked with. Wonderful tone, precise phrasing and improvisational inventiveness, this cat’s got it all.”
Also featured on Joy Jaz is Tim Gordon’s spectacular tenor saxophone soloing, in a hint of retro 60’s Coltrane as he soars over the brass section powerfully and effortlessly like only a true virtuoso can. “I’ve spent a lifetime trying to find an artist like Tim”, he explains, “and I’ll spend the rest of my life and not find another like him. He’s that unique.”
ROD didn’t grow up in the church listening to Christian music, so he approaches music production from more of a pop music perspective. And although being of Cuban descent, there may only be a subtle ethnic twist to his sound. He notes, “I greatly admire the well crafted pop melodies of hit songs and the sonic signatures of legendary American music producers. I think these have had a far greater influence on me than my ethnicity."
No doubt much of that influence accounts for the strong melodic themes, the intricate vocal harmonies, and the studio experimentation that went into the making of this album. “It was both challenging and fun to see how radically I could change the sound of my voice from song to song”, he recalls. “I’m fascinated by the versatility and expressiveness of the human voice. In my opinion, there’s no other instrument that can compare to it.”
Many of the songs were written fairly recently, although a couple of the melodies had been percolating in his head for decades. “I never had a reason to use them until now, so I never bothered to record them or write them down.” he recalls. “I figured that if they were good melodies, I wouldn’t forget them. Do you still remember the melodies of songs that you heard many years ago? Well, it’s the same principle, except I never “heard” these melodies outside of my own head”, he explains.
Despite his experience in modern production techniques and owning a fairly well-equipped studio, completing the album was still a laborious and time-consuming process. He noted that some of the songs never even made it to the first album, and some went through such a metamorphosis that the final versions are unrecognizable from the initial drafts. An example he gave is “Nothin’ but the Blood”, which was actually derived from an old Christian hymn but rendered as a soul/blues track and substantially altered from the original.
Some of the songs required more than 50 separate tracks, making for complex mix sessions. For example, “So Good” took him on an experimental path that stretched his studio chops to the limit. You can watch the YouTube video where he demonstrates how he used his own voice to create the percussion and bass lines. On and off, the entire album took over two years to complete.
Although he applied his music production experience to this project, he explains that it was only the template he used for the purpose of glorifying God, encouraging believers, and witnessing to unbelievers. “I believe that’s what Christian music should attempt to do, and lyrics that are faithful to the Bible are the key to this. The rest is ear candy”, he said.
The highest credit of all, according to ROD, goes to “my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him, there would be no reason for the music. He saved me so that I would use the gifts He gave me to point others to Him, despite all of my many weaknesses. For He is mindful of our frame; He remembers that we are Really Only Dust.”
Release date: June 30, 2017