When jesusfreakhideout[dot]com gives an album a perfect grade, I listen to it. That has been my rule of thumb for the past five years when it comes to keeping up with new releases in the Christian market, and it has yet to disappoint me. I had never heard of Jon Guerra prior to Keeper of Days, but this album has not only made me a fan but has once again reminded me of the possibilities of what happens when Christians are committed to making good art.
The only way I know how to describe Guerra and Keeper of Days is to compare him to Michael Gungor, which is a risky comparison to make but I think is appropriate of Guerra’s songwriting and lyrical talent. Guerra isn’t as musically experimental as Gungor, nor anywhere near as provocative or blunt, but Guerra’s foray into pop, folk, indie, and electronic certainly rivals the diversity of Gungor’s work and his lyricism just as powerful and memorable despite being explicitly grounded in Scripture and Psalms-esq in nature. Guerra does get into some modern day commentary with the excellent “Citizens”, but the rest of the time he is focused on processing doubts about the presence of the Lord (“Tightrope”, “Life Logic”, “Hold On”) and reminding himself of the faithfulness of God amid his uncertainty (“Prettier Than Solomon”, “Love Goes On”, “Keeper of Days”). I especially want to commend “Life Logic”, “Hold On”, and “Prettier Than Solomon” as being songs that have given me language to process this painful and difficult year, all with some truly gorgeous (and catchy!) melodies and arrangements to supplement Guerra’s rich lyricism.
Though JFH gave this album a perfect grade, I would personally rank it slightly below perfect due to the album’s length and pacing – at 14 songs and nearly an hour long, Keeper of Days feels a tad bloated and sluggish towards the back end of the album. Cutting a song or two would been painful given that all these songs are outstanding, but it would’ve helped the album as a whole. But unlike most of the Christian market, Guerra does not force you to choose between good music or quality lyrics, and Keeper of Days is a testimony for what happens when Christians are committed to giving both.