The thing about Variety Beat is, we don’t review every single that gets released. (Praise be to the powerhouse outlets that have that capability.) Instead, we bring you the music that touches us most, the artists we connect with because we believe they can make a difference in your life, like they’ve made a difference in ours. Kelleigh Bannen is not just another amazing artist/singer/songwriter. She’s an amazing human being and that is why we champion her music. She’s the type of person you wish you had in your life, a person you would be proud to know. A person who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable and honest, a person who takes risks even if it’s not the safe route, because she believes in the power of music and it’s healing capabilities.
Several years ago, Bannen came across a song called “Church Clothes” written by GRAMMY award-winning songwriter Liz Rose and Nicolle Galyon. It’s a song filled with so much vulnerability and something that makes people uncomfortable to talk about in the “church scene.” The song follows the storyline of a couple struggling to stay together, a couple that no longer communicates, that fights all the time, but they show up to church on Sundays, just like they’re supposed to and put on their Sunday best.
The lyrics have so much power in them because they come from such a broken place. They ask the questions, what would people think if they knew what was really happening? That’s a real fear when people are going through a hard time, possibly heading towards a divorce. What is everyone going to think? On the outside, people can look so happy, have it all put together, and yet on the inside they are crying out for help, for love, for someone who understands what they are going through.
That’s what this song does. It offers an understanding for others who don’t have it all together, who don’t have the perfect marriage, who have been through or are going through things that others would look down upon. It takes courage and bravery to open up about what’s really happening and this song gives people that courage. To say “I’m not alone, other people are also going through this.” It’s something so difficult and painful, but it can hurt a little less if you can be honest about what’s going on.
Bannen brings that vulnerability out when she sings the words as if she’s lived them. There are pauses in each line that allow us to feel the pain she’s singing about. It’s difficult to say the words, because it’s difficult to live them.
A pressed shirt, you tuck it in / You tie your tie, tie it again / I put a little curl in my hair / Pink on my cheeks, barely there / A proper skirt, hits at the knee / A good sweater in wintergreen / You shake the keys, downstairs / I hit the lights, not a minute to spare / Slip a five in the bible for the offering plate / What a beautiful picture we both make
You drive, I look out the window / It’s not right but nobody says so / We walk in and head to the same pew / And hold hands, just like we’re supposed to / But last night you slept on the sofa / And these days I don’t even know ya / We fight like hell but nobody knows / When we’re wearing our church clothes
We stand up we sing a hymn / We say a prayer for other friends / We’re turning to the book of John / And I’m thinking how I can’t go on / But we smile and we give it our Sunday best / If we’re lost couldn’t tell by the way we’re dressed
You drive, I look out the window / It’s not right but nobody says so / We walk in, I head to the bedroom / But you don’t, you do what you want to / Like last week when you packed a suitcase / And came close to getting your own place / Oh that’s the stuff that nobody knows / When we’re wearing our church clothes
Oh we don’t speak / Don’t touch as if nobody’s watching us / Lord knows we’ve got it down / What would they say if we gave up
You drive, I look out the window / It’s not right but nobody says so / We walk in like we’ve never been so close / Miles apart but careful that it don’t show / When we’re wearing our church clothes
This song has the power to change lives and bring healing to so many. We hope it touches you as much as it has touched us over the years. It doesn’t have to be about your own life, it could be about parents, a couple you know… your neighbor. It doesn’t even have to be about a relationship, but about that brokenness of feeling so judged and feeling like you must have it all together, you have to make others think your life is perfect.
There’s not a lot of music out there that truly brings that kind of healing and the opportunity to face what’s really happening in life. This song does that in more. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you know is hurting about “Church Clothes.” Let the healing begin.
Download “Church Clothes” on iTunes,
The music video for “Church Clothes” will premiere on Saturday, March 11 on CMT’s Hot 20 Countdown!
LISTEN TO KELLEIGH BANNEN’S “CHURCH CLOTHES”