Few things make pride swell in your chest more than receiving an opportunity to support a motivated alumnus. (Well, that and winning the Atlantic 10 championship.)
John Donovan, a 2011 Saint Louis University graduate who studied both music and theology during his undergraduate career, recently released an album of original music entitled “Via Crucis” (Latin for “Stations of the Cross”).
Composed of 14 tracks, the album provides a unique chance for reflection and succeeds in presenting the listener with a plethora of heartfelt ballads. Donovan not only wrote, produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the entire album himself, but he also proceeded to release “Via Crucis” on his own label, Jumproping Bird Records.
What sets “Via Crucis” apart from other albums of its kind is Donovan’s track-by-track interpretation of the 14 Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross are a series of 14 pictures, crosses or prayers devoted to the commemoration of Christ’s journey to crucifixion and burial.
Most commonly found within Catholicism, the 14 stations were compiled into a list during the 12th century by St. Francis of Assisi, which is how they are known today.
Narrated in first person, “Via Crucis” takes poetic liberties in relating Christ’s story to the listener with lyrics such as “When I opened my eyes / I was sent to die” (“Three Turns”) and “Oh Veronica, I gave you my grace / Like I gave you the blood that you wiped from my face” (“Seraphia”).
The lyrics transport those who hear them into Christ’s shoes, so to speak, and put a fresh spin on a familiar story.
For those who do not generally enjoy music with a religious foundation, do not run for the hills. Donovan makes a point of stating that his album is also aimed at providing music for “music-loving ears” and says he is “interested in how a person of another faith, or no faith, would hear and internalize” his album.
Laced with steady percussion and relaxed acoustic rhythms, “Via Crucis” provides not only a good message, but also good music, and can be enjoyed by individuals of all backgrounds.
A refreshing take on a 12th century tradition, a digital copy of “Via Crucis” can be downloaded or purchased at johndonovan.bandcamp.com.
You can also visit Donovan’s Facebook page to receive more information on his most recent album as well as upcoming releases
Whether you’re looking for a time of reflection with the help of some thought-provoking tunes or simply something to jam to, consider this album a suggestion from a friend and lend your ear to a fellow Billiken.