Heaven is Whenever / We Can Get Together

H/T to my friend and former colleague, Kevin Canfield, for calling my attention to today's release of the latest album from the Hold Steady, Heaven is Whenever. Such an occasion should not go unnoticed, so here is the early review from the Washington Post:

The spirituality inherent in the concert experience has long been explicit in the Hold Steady's music, and here, five studio albums into what is shaping up as a brilliant career, frontman Craig Finn still sounds transported by it. "Heaven is whenever / We can get together," he professes, buoyed by the celestial harmonies of a background choir.


Finn is singing about listening to records with a friend, but, as he recently told an interviewer, the song "also speaks to how I feel about our shows, the communal aspect of the audience and performer." "We like to play for you," he sings in the elegiac "Sweet Part of the City," before adding, "We like to pray for you," all but equating the two activities.

Several songs on this new album have a hymn-like quality, an ambiance conveyed through arrangements that are both more textured and atmospheric than those heard on the arena-ready anthems of the band's previous records. Even the up-tempo rockers here rely more on layered guitars and voices than on muscle and crunch, although there's plenty of that on the album as well.

And Finn's lyrics still center on life's not-so-little ups and downs, and on the emotional and spiritual insights to be gleaned from them. "Our struggle still feels wonderful most days," he sings amid the oceanic sweep of the seven-minute closing track. "We're not afraid / We have our faith," he affirms elsewhere in the stanza. Their faith, yes, and their audience as well.

Sean Dempsey, S.J., wrote an appreciation of the Hold Steady for America in 2008. Check it out here.

Tim Reidy


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Beth Cioffoletti
7 years 10 months ago
the lyrics remind me of something one of my good friends always says concerning heaven: "either we all go together, or we all don't go"!


Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The U.N. report documents cases of extrajudicial murders committed by police, illegal house raids and threats and harassment against journalists and social and political activists in Honduras.
Jackie McVicarMarch 20, 2018
An employee wrapped in a blanket talks to a police officer after she was evacuated at a FedEx distribution center where a package exploded on March 20, 2018, in Schertz, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In their joint statement, the Texas bishops echoed Chief Manley’s appeal to the community. “We ask all people in our dioceses to remain vigilant, and to pray and work for peace,” the bishops said.
Paul StinsonMarch 20, 2018
The challenge of finding families for homeless youth and for those in group shelters is creating the latest flashpoint over competing civil rights claims. (iStock/bodnarchuk)
Catholic Social Services refuses to place foster children in homes headed by same-sex couples; the city of Philadelphia says this policy violates a nondiscrimination law.
My approach to the mystery of A.L.S. is a bit different than that of the famed physicist.
Elise ItalianoMarch 20, 2018