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Luna Halo Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Luna Halo lyrics)
Luna Halo Biography
There is simplicity to the Gospel that anyone with an open heart can understand. But the way that simple Gospel plays out in our lives and relationships is anything but simple. We want to write songs that are honest about the complexity of life in our culture, but that also compel people to consider the eternal relevance of God in the midst of that complexity. -Nathan Barlowe, Luna Halo
Their music is dreamy, atmospheric, melodic. It falls somewhere between the sounds of moody British rock, eighties revival, and epic pop. It's likely to strike you as something familiar that you've never quite heard before. But the softest, strangest thing you're likely to notice about the music on Luna Halo's Sparrow Records debut, Shimmer, is the glow.
Shimmer's sublime mingling of musical elements all but conjures up the illusion that Luna Halo has somehow managed to tap, with sound, the threshold of light's visible spectrum. Emotive guitars, moody keyboards, and soaring vocal melodies seem to weave the feel, by turns, of moonlight, candlelight, starlight, phosphorescence and neon. It's a subtle quality, to be sure, but one that brings an obvious and unexpected level of coherence and maturity to a debut project. While the metaphor of light exists in Luna Halo's music in a sublimated and unintentional fashion, variations on the theme extend beyond the feel of the sound, finding their way more overtly into the words Nathan Barlowe sings. In songs like "Heaven", "Beautiful" and "Forgiveness", the crooned lyrics complement the music, riddled with references to light. Luna Halo found that light is a natural metaphor to use if you're delving again and again into realms of mercy, pain, and forgiveness.
"How is it that I can mess up so many times and God can still be so loving and forgiving?" asks Nathan. "I find myself writing about it so much because it's an incredible mystery to me. That's something in our music that people have really connected with. Anyone who takes an honest look at their own sin can't help but be amazed and confounded by the depth and persistence of God's desire to forgive and redeem."
In 1998 Nathan Barlowe (vocals, guitar) and Jonny MacIntosh (guitar) left the band Reality Check and ventured out to form Luna Halo. Together with Brad Minor (bass) they pursued a vision to integrate expressions of their faith with musical excellence and cultural relevance. "Relevance to me," Nathan explains, "means speaking in an authentic voice to the people we're with, speaking their language just as a missionary in another country would learn to do. I think that's part of what it means to become 'all things to all men'. If people in the culture around you see your life as an open book and come to understand that God loves you even in your imperfection and they see how much you are like them, then they can begin to hope that God can and does love them too. It's then that the Gospel stops sounding like a fairytale and suddenly becomes relevant."
Part of the relevance in Luna Halo's music comes from their philosophy as a band: We just want to do the best we can with the talents God has given us," Nathan says. "If I worked in a coffeeshop or as a doctor or a plumber I would say the same thing. Whatever I might do, Christ is central. It just so happens that I'm a musician so I'm going to do that to the best of my ability."
Another key to their relevance is a willingness to follow the model of the psalmists, wrestling openly with sorrow and weakness. "Everyone has struggles," Nathan explains. "Everyone has issues in their lives that can be summed up and fixed in the space of a three minute song. If I'm writing about years of hurt and struggle, there's no way I can neatly tie up all the loose ends and fix the problem by the time the last chorus rolls around. It wouldn't be honest. Songs for me are more like snapshots. You can see the light of grace breaking into them but one picture alone will never tell the whole story." One Luna Halo song that paints a picture of trust in God through life's problems is the catchy, Beatles influenced tune "Carry Me." With strings, horns and guitars that build like an epic movie soundtrack, "Carry Me" is a straightforward conversation with God, a recognition that he alone is strong enough to lead through the troubles of this life.
Similarly, "Superman" with a full orchestral arrangement, is an appeal not to God but to other people imploring them, as well, to place their trust in God alone. "'Superman' was written out of my own experience being in a rock band for several years," says Nathan. "When you're on a stage in front of people, there are always some of them who want to put you on a pedestal. They want to rely on you for things that only God can do for them. I finally had to start saying 'I can't be your superman. But I can lead you to the one who can.'"
The most intriguing song on Shimmer is arguably "Aliens". Edgy musically, the lyric plays out as an almost schizophrenic conversation inside the singer's head. "The desires of my sin nature are so alien to the desires of my heart to seek and serve God," Nathan says. "That back and forth struggle lends itself well to the science-fiction metaphor of something so outside of you and foreign to you somehow still being a part of you and influencing your behavior. The song is ultimately a prayer to God saying 'Please come and control this because apart from your Spirit, I can't.'"
Searching for practical, relevant ways to point their young audiences through the darkness of personal struggle and despair and toward the light of God's love and truth the members of Luna Halo formed a partnership with Youth Development International. YDI, which began years ago as a runaway hotline, is now a national youth crisis hotline (1-800-HIT-HOME) available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week to anyone eighteen or younger. Every night from the stage the band members make a presentation about YDI alerting teens to the resource.
"It's a great organization," Nathan says. "For whatever things a kid might be going through there are trained Christian counselors at YDI to help them deal with it. They get lots of suicide calls and have a good track record for saving kids lives. I've seen it work and it's something I really believe in. What they do is also very consistent with one of our goals as a band of finding ways to speak to kids who normally wouldn't set foot in a church or hang out in a youth group. However we can, we want to impact the lives of skeptical people with the living relevance of God."