Heard this song over breakfast today and it was like the voice of God speaking directly into my pain. Found the artist, Pete Droge, on iTunes and read the most Theology-of-the-Cross review I could possibly imagine – suffering-for-sufferers if I’ve ever heard it. Holy moly…

Under the Waves is Pete Droge’s fifth album and his second for his own Puzzle Tree Records label following three poor-selling major-label efforts. Droge is the sort of folkish singer/songwriter who tends to get called “promising” long after such a description applies; after all, one can only show promise for so long before that promise is fulfilled or must be considered to have been broken, and at 37, this artist would seem to have passed that point. Rather, he really belongs in another category, that of the artist who has had his shot and not succeeded, but who gained enough attention thereby to be able to sustain a minor career through the wonders of affordable technology and Internet distribution for as long as he cares to bother. Droge plays nearly all the instruments on this album full of slow-tempo, introspective songs, the lyrics of which, presented in an echoed murmur, may be about the vagaries of love or the vagaries of the artist’s life, but most of the time are really just vague. “Never learned to be an artist, did I?,” he sings in “Never Learned,” which seems to be an assessment of his career so far. “I was one to let them call the tune/Though I look around, I’m never sure what I have found within my heart/I can dance while I sing/Knowing it won’t mean a thing.” Was he a sellout, he seems to ask himself, only to answer, yeah, maybe, who knows? But it’s exactly this shrugging, what-the-hell attitude, coupled with the Tom Petty-meets-Neil Young tunes and arrangements, that has made for Droge’s limited appeal. And that may mean that, on his own label, making his own records in his own studio (in which he is shown on the album cover), he may have found his level and a place from which he can continue to pursue his ambivalent muse.