Review: David (Lee) Bozeman, The Majesty of the Flesh (Velvet Blue Music) and Mother of God (Independent release).
Available through leebozeman.bandcamp.com
Review by Benjamin Guyer
Listening to these two Lee Bozeman EPs is like watching the construction of a house: each new addition leaves you wanting more. Short, rewarding, and sometimes demanding, Bozeman is content to leave listeners listening, and listening on repeat if necessary.
The Majesty of the Flesh and Mother of God are thematically and musically distinct. The first album consists of four melodically focused pop songs driven, with one exception, by gleefully distorted guitars. The latter, a contemplative but equally bright triptych, is concerned exclusively with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Both albums are punctuated with lyrics rooted in Bozeman’s Orthodox faith, which makes his lyrical voice distinct in America’s musical scene. Listening can be a passive activity, but his EPs invite more active consideration. These songs are worth thinking with.
Bozeman not only tells stories with his words but also with his musical dynamics. The Majesty of the Flesh begins and ends in two very different places. The title track rocks out with its opening line (“Oh, the majesty of the flesh”), but its last two verses, performed in the wake of abrupt diminuendo, turn to the sorrows of embodiment. In word no less than performance, the proverbial party is suddenly over. Borrowing from St. Paul, Bozeman twice asks, “Who can save us from this body of death?”
The fourth song on the EP is much the same. Its chorus is underwhelming when Bozeman first sings it, but beginning the second time, he performs it against a wall of sound. The lyrics are both frail and doxological: “Alleluia! Alleluia! / I’m scared for everyone I know / Is it real or just a show? / Alleluia! Alleluia! / I’m scared of everyone I know / As above, so below.” Here the paradoxes of human priesthood and Christian belief are less resolved than released with Christ’s prayer.
Mother of God is delightful listening, whether during the Christmas season or at any other time. The dynamics are considerably less pronounced than those on The Majesty of the Flesh, making it a smoother musical ride. Mother of God is a fine witness to the richness of Marian devotion.
“Queen of Heaven,” the second track, is sometimes a lyrical florilegia of typological descriptors for the Blessed Virgin: “I thought of the Fire / The Temple and Ladder / The Gate and the Garden / Late one Christmas Eve.”The last song is cryptic, and this with only two lines: “Who’s afraid of the Virgin Mary? / Everyone should be.” The same lyric is sung again and again, eventually in the form of a round. In thoroughly Marian fashion, simplicity aids profundity.
Listeners impatient for more will find it rewarding to dig in to Bozeman’s back catalogue, as well as that of the band Luxury, in which he sings. And of course, there’s always that repeat button.
Fr. David (Lee) Bozeman is the lead singer and guitarist of Luxury, a rock band formed in the early 1990s at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. Luxury has recorded five albums: Amazing and Thank You (1995), The Latest and the Greatest (1997), Luxury (1999), Health and Sport (2005), and Trophies (2014). Bozeman, his brother, Jamey (guitar background vocals), and Chris Foley (bass) are now priests of the Orthodox Church in America.
Look out for an interview with Fr. David in the upcoming Liturgical Arts & Music issue of The Living Church.