Father Maximilian Mary Dean will "spread the blaze" in this faithful Catholic album, with a variety of musical styles.
Father Maximilian Mary Dean is back with a brand new album, Forgive, in 2022. This record, released in May, has some of the hottest Catholic songs of the year. With a rich variety of genres, which change from song to song, the album is almost like a Catholic playlist, curated by a faithful hermit priest.
One of our favorite parts of Fr. Dean’s music is how reflective it is of the rich and varied stylings of the Catholic songbook. In the work, Fr. Dean effortlessly transitions from bluegrass to blues, or from a liturgical chant-like melody to a cool island beat. All the while he plays so many instruments that it would make many a professional musician whip their head around in awe.
In the movie Crossroads, Ralph Macchio plays a guitar student at Juilliard who is pulled between two forms of music that he loves: classical and the blues. At one point, after infusing Mozart’s “Rondò alla Turca” with a blues lick, Macchio’s teacher warns him against using his skills to serve two masters, or in this case genres. In Forgive, Fr. Dean shows that all forms of music can be put to use in service of the Lord.
The titular track, featured above, is a beautiful liturgical piece that sources its lyrics from the scriptures, with Matthew 18:21-22 holding the chorus. The track is accompanied by an impressive music video where Fr. Dean shows the behind the scene work. Dean plays all the “meat-and-potatoes” instruments: guitar, bass, drums, vocals, keys. The song is filled out by excellent performances by Spanish saxophonist Artem Zhulyev and vocal harmonies from Karin Mozina-Žibrat.
From there, Fr. Dean switches up the pace into a cool Reggae beat in “Sing of Your Mercy.” This track has a great hook in the chorus that is bound to ring in one’s head long after it’s finished. Fr. Dean shows off a bit of his vocal range with longer sustained high notes that resonate well. We especially loved the musical breakdown at the end, with a ripping guitar solo that’s thrilling to watch.
Our personal favorite track was “Serve the Lord,” a lively bluegrass tune complete with a frantic banjo and a superb fiddle. Dean’s voice lends itself well to the vocal requirements of this genre and the tone and timbre of his tenor voice part was perfectly supported by a rumbling bass. The song reminds of the works of The Hillbilly Thomists and indeed it stands up to any contemporary bluegrass recording.
Then Fr. Dean switches pace again with “Spread the Blaze,” a tune that feels like it was made for the House of Blues. The swinging band arrangement that Fr. Dean put together is reminiscent of the SNL band that surrounded The Blues Brothers. The juxtaposition of the musical style with lyrics of faith, aided by some excellent licks on the keys, was enticing and leaves the listener wanting to hear more.
There’s more music on this 10-track album than can really be discussed in just one article, so we’ll leave you with one of the most powerful songs on the album “Salve Regina.” This is a cover of Michael Patrick Kelly’s 2021 arrangement, one of the most beautiful treatments of the Catholic prayer in decades.
Fr. Dean has updated the track with a much appreciated arrangement of strings. The haunting metronomic guitar work perfectly complements the lilting vocal melody and Fr. Dean’s harmonies resonate even better than Kelly’s original. The song is the perfect meditation to finish off a faithful album.
Fr. Dean’s new album, Forgive, is available just about everywhere that streams music. Click here to see a full list of where to find this excellent release.