Krist writes about a variety of other topics as well. She's one of just a few songwriters to explore the emotions that follow a death, and she conveys a sense of the dissolution of society that's all the more unsettling because of the plain, middle-of-the-road quality of her music. The pace of many of her texts slows down when the song's chorus begins with some kind of maxim or emotional truth, driving it home compellingly. And like Bruce Cockburn, she's not afraid to try a genuinely mystical lyric now and again.
But it's Krist's general religious outlook, diametrically opposite to the Christianity-as-cudgel ideas of the moment, that is most unusual. Wounded Me, Wounded You opens with "St. John Reads the 21st-Century Want Ads," another song that slips a religious framework into everyday experience. One of the want ads reads, "Man with money and axe to grind / Will use violence to speak his mind." And the response in the song's chorus concludes with "The best thing I can do right now is to love," with some of the refrains adding the word "you" and others leaving it off.
Jan Krist is at the Ark on Thursday, May 6.
[Originally published in May, 2004.]