Sara Groves, Floodplain (Sponge Records, 2015)
Originally published on December 6, 2015
Four years ago, on a cold November night, my wife and I arrived late to a concert by the Madison Chamber Choir, under the direction of Anthony Cao. Fortunately, we found some unclaimed space in the organ loft and were able to hear the concert. Toward the end of the evening, I had an encounter with the Platonic triad, beauty, truth and goodness, via the choir's rendition of "Fly." Looking to my program, I learned that I had just heard Susan LaBarr's arrangement of a Sara Groves song.
Listening to that arrangement is like going to a "thin place" where one becomes aware of God's immanence, and one finds strength and healing. In Floodplain, Sara Groves lays bear her struggles and weaknesses, stating that the title song is "first a metaphor for my journey with anxiety and depression." In a video, "Girl in the World: Floodplain,"* she elaborates: "Some people their heart is built on the floodplain and the water does rise once or twice a year. The floodplain is to me also a very positive and beautiful image, it is so green…"
Floodplain has its lush green moments, for example, "I Feel the Love Between Us" and "Signal." The water rises in "Second Guess Girl," and "I've Been Here Before." One does not need to be on a journey of depression and anxiety to relate to these songs, but anyone who is or has been will know the territory all too well. With "In My Dream" we are on holy ground, with one whom the floodwaters cannot claim. It is a song of wholeness and healing, enough to make us believe — in the words of another song — that we "might even fly."