For those times when you need some jangly folk pop, Page France will be there for you. (Jangly? What the heck does that mean? Talk about a retarded use of adjectives.) Coming from Marryland, the group started with some different members but now consists of Michael Nau, Whitney McGraw, Bryan Martin, Jasen Reeder, and Chris Morris.
Michael Nau started Page France way back in the spring of 2004 with his friend Clinton Jones. From there, they have gone on to change the lineup, tour across the nation, and release four more records.
They’ve got mostly up-beat, fun songs with a folk sound, but they’re not straight-up folk artists by any definition. Their songs are rarely about sunshine on shoulders, amber waves of grain, or darling Corey. To be honest, I’m not sure what a lot of their songs really are about. On the music side of things, from time to time, the band will whip out some unusual instruments like trombones, various other horns, banjos, xylophones, and a glockenspiel.
When I first started listening to Page France, I had an opportunity to see them play at Schuba’s in Chicago alongside Anathallo and Ben and Bruno. If you ever have a chance to see a show there, definitely go. It’s a great venue. So the show was great but the thing I first noticed about Page France was Michael Nau’s big old hat he wore. I’ve since learned that he doesn’t always wear the hat, but it’s what made the band for me that night.
I used to be convinced that Page France was a Christian group, because of obviously Christian-themed lyrics in “Jesus,” “Chariot,” and other songs, but now, after reading about the band more, I think it’s pretty clear they’re not Christians. Here is Michael Nau’s own take on the question of their Christian status:
The ‘Christian band’ inquiry wears me out, to be honest. As for the Christian symbols in my writing – sometimes I don’t even realize that they exist until someone points them out to me. There’s really no reason; it just rolled out that way.
You can view the rest of the interview here, but it seems pretty clear that if they don’t call themselves Christian, they probably aren’t Christian. Michael Nau also stated here that he was brought up as a Christian but he doesn’t really think about it anymore.
So, with that disclaimer aside, I think you can still enjoy the songs I’ve put up here. “Jesus” is a really simple but good song about what Jesus did and is going to do, and “Chariot” contains hints of Biblical ideas of a new creation that have really encouraged me. So take what you can from the songs and pray that Michael would come back to his Christian roots.
If you dig their sound, be sure to check out the live recordings they did for Daytrotter which you can download for free here. Do yourself a favor and check around for some other indie artists while you’re there too.
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