Amy Grant will forever be the Queen of Christian Pop — angelic bops abound — but that honorific (one perhaps a bit more official these days) belies the earthly wisdom she bestows in both the songs she writes and those she chooses to sing. After open-heart surgery in 2020 and recovering from a bicycle accident last year that temporarily impaired her cognitive abilities, not to mention a throat surgery just this past January, Grant comes back with a meditation on the seeds we sow and the forest yet to come.
"Trees We'll Never See" was found in a song swapping session between Grant and Marshall Altman, who produced Grant's 2013 album How Mercy Looks from Here. The song, co-written by Altman and country music artist Michael White, is a testament to Grant's taste and temperament — heartstring-tugged imagery ("I can see her there in one of dad's old shirts") and a sturdy, fingerpicked acoustic guitar grounded by the tough-but-tender clarity of age and experience. But it's sight without knowledge of what's to come, trusting that strong roots laid now take hold through "love and faith and grace, a little time."
In a way, "Trees We'll Never See" is in environmental conversation with Iris DeMent's "Workin' on a World," itself a spin on a gospel song. But where DeMent, in regards to climate activism, "contemplates her powerlessness in the face of her own mortality," as my colleague Ann Powers writes, Grant's thinking about the soul of humankind during our miniscule time on Earth: "Statues fall and glory fades / But a 100-year-old oak tree still gives shade," Grant sings, in a voice that's turned amber with time. Sure, our treasure is in heaven, if you believe it so, but there's so much we can't see for the ones we leave behind. Let us dare to leave them a world worth living in.