“A Shrugging of the Shoulders” is Mitch McVicker’s 11th studio album in a career spanning over 25 years that began in support of the late Rich Mullins. They had performed and written together, and the same accident that took Mullin’s life also severely injured Mitch. After recovering, McVicker started on an extremely productive solo career that includes not only an extensive album library, but also a hectic touring schedule.
McVicker shared his thoughts on the new album via his Kickstarter campaign, “We hear talk of the mystery of Christ. However, we become addicted to grasping and controlling surface ‘ins and outs’. We settle for an assumed knowledge of detail…and we are tricked into thinking that this ‘knowing’ is some kind of power. We turn to these attainments while missing out on the opportunity to stare into the sky and lose ourselves among the stars and in the mystery that is immeasurably beyond us, yet dwells within us. Mystery is woven through this world, this universe, and us. And as faith points out, mystery is eminent in the Christ.” The opening track, “Fragile”, speaks very clearly to that mystery and encourages the listener to embrace it with lyrics like “let’s just take off our shoes”. Instead of worrying about what we don’t understand, we should enjoy God’s creation as McVicker sings “clear skies go unknown”, i.e. we don’t take time to appreciate what God has provided to us. That theme continues in “Among the Stars” which deals with how we fit into God’s universe.
“I Won’t Insult My Soul” deals with how we hide our true selves and conform for acceptance – “I agree to what’s not me”. McVicker makes the definitive statement “no more will I concede” and follows it with the jarring line “now here’s my middle finger”. It seems a bit much, but the point is well made. “Mount Up” is nice, slower tempo number with some well-placed harmonica that initially has a tinge of sarcasm and defeatism where McVicker says he’s read he needs to “mount up with wings like eagles”/ “supposed to soar”, but “I when I walk I get weary and when I run I grow faint”. However, by the end of the song, the lyric changes to him singing that he is going move forward and mount up with wings like eagles to soar.
The stripped down “What Love Is” is very quiet and pretty song, with a powerful message to his mother and father, and it’s probably my favorite. What a beautiful tribute to parents:
“You gave me more than I could help
You laid yourself down so I could grow
You filled my cup as you made yourself less
You showed me what love is”
“Life I Live”, starts out with McVicker singing “may my prayer be like the air that fills my lungs” and just emphasizes that our entire existence should be praising His name. Everything we do is for God’s glory, perfectly captured in the words: “let my life be the worship song I sing, my praise of you goes beyond a tune”. This is definitely one of the standout songs on the album.
Overall, “A Shrugging of the Shoulders”, which clocks in over 55 minutes with 14 tracks is a very listenable album. It is not a title of apathy or defeat, but a statement to accept what we don’t understand, embrace what God has given us and move on in life.