One of the things I’ve been wanting to do since I finally took the plunge in starting this blog, is review new books, music, and other art forms. So I eagerly took the opportunity to preview Latifah Phillips’ newest project Moda Spira, which releases this Friday, May 13. She was also gracious enough to take some time to chat with me about the project.
I was familiar with Latifah Phillips’ other projects, her Hymn project Page CXVI, and indie pop band The Autumn Film, and was already a huge fan of her voice and song writing abilities. What intrigued me most about this album however, was that it told a story. It is a narrative of the ups and downs of love and relationships. I’m a novelist, obviously storytelling is one of my favorite things. So rather than give the typical review of music style and a question and answer interview, I decided to focus on the narrative that this album tells and what makes me want to listen to it over and over again.
Moda Spira in Latin means the continual act of breathing. When I asked Latifah about what inspired her to write about her experience of love and conflict in a committed marriage relationship, she spoke of a particularly rough season in her marriage. She said that processing through that season made her realize there is a lot in music and popular culture about break ups, or happily ever after romances, but she wanted something that would inspire people that conflict in relationships is normal. Love is messy and hard, but there is something beautiful in the struggle and healing. The narrative style of the album was an intentional choice; she stated she wanted to “wrestle through the stages of a tough season, what happens when we fight.”
As her first solo project in ten years, she told me she “gave herself permission to do what she wanted.” She explores different styles and genres of music. This is fun and interesting, but it also helped inform the narrative. Whether it’s the pulsing of the synthesizer in “In The Fight”, or the instrumental only track of “Stillness”, I felt the emotions. I was not merely listening to her journey; I was on the journey with her. When I asked her about what she most hoped people took away from this album, she said she wanted to create hope in despair; “conflict is normal with people you love, but if we have motivation to work through those conflicts, it can be really beautiful.” I felt that in this album. Though I have never been married, it is something that is true of all relationships. I listened to this album and recalled past hard seasons with my parents, or my best friends. She shared a quote by a friend of hers, author Matt Mikalatos “We judge ourselves by our motivation but we judge others by their actions.” How often have I done this? As fallen, broken, and sinful human beings, we will hurt each other, we will forget that we may not know the other person’s motivations. It is the honesty of that reality that makes what Latifah Phillips does with Moda Spira so inspiring. My favorite books, television shows, and music are those that are unique to the person who created them, yet cause me to pause and reflect on my own life experiences. Moda Spira does this beautifully.
For more on Moda Spira, check out the website at http://www.modaspira.com/. You can pre-order the album there, or it officially releases this Friday!
Christ-Follower. Writer. Caffeine-addict.