Major Rob Birks, TSA officer and TSC super-fan, offers a thorough review of the band’s newest offering, EP I (Roman numeral 1). You can listen to the album on Spotify, or purchase a copy on iTunes or CD Baby. Check out The Singing Company’s website for more info.
Full disclosure: I love The Singing Company. I love their name. I love their music. I love their mission. I love their ties, their sweaters, and I love the people wearing them. With that out of the way, let’s get down to some serious, non-biased record reviewing.
I love this EP! As I write this, I have lived with it for a little over a week. I received an advanced copy of this new recording during Holy Week, which is appropriate for two reasons. First, the Holy Week album which The Singing Company created with the ever-awesome band Families in 2011 still holds a spot in my regular rotation. Second, this music is holy music, made by holy people, for those who seek to know The Holy One and be made holy.
The album’s description states, “This recording examines how we all need God and are insufficient without Him. Each song speaks to how we depend on the rock; are prone to wander; we’re guilty of relying on the law; our striving is losing in our own strength; God is our vision, our wisdom, our best thought; we chase after idols but need to turn towards God in worship.” This is a great summation of the six songs found on this EP, but I’m still going to take a shot at running through them each.
An original, written from the perspective of one who knows that life will–at times–be rough, and that navigating those waters alone is not necessary or advisable. Trusting “a mighty Lord”, “a refuge from all harm” is the only hope.
And in this storm I will not fear, / Not counting waves, but drawing near. / God, in His pow’r, rebukes the tide, / Says, “Peace, be still” to all my life.
Let it be so.
Come Thou Fount
This is a beautiful take on Sara Groves’ take on Robert Robinson’s 1757 classic hymn.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be. / Let Thy goodness, like a fetter; bind my wandering heart to Thee. / Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; / Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.
If you can’t sing along with these lines, then you may need to read the entire book of Romans again, but quick.
— The Singing Company (@SingingCompany) March 24, 2014
This is another original from The Singing Company. Its lyrics come from the words of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 23. You don’t hear a lot of songs—or sermons for that matter—taken from this passage. Most likely that’s because Jesus doesn’t sound too happy here. I love that on this track, the “Woe to you” from scripture is turned into “Woe to me”, bringing the rebuke a whole lot closer to home. The contrast of Sam Arias’ easy on the ears voice and the harshness of the lyric really work together for good. I can see / the law I keep is keeping me / from love and mercy. / If I lack justice, my tithe is worthless; / woe to me.
Be Thou My Vision
This is one of my favorite hymns, and this version ranks up there with the Van Morrison version I have on cassette tape (remember those?). The arrangement and approach here are simple, letting the vocals and the lyrics come through clearly in this powerful prayer. Nicely done! Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; / I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; / Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; / Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
A Mighty Fortress
Another classic hymn, this time from the pen of Martin Luther, who wrote this in the early 16th century. The Singing Company brings the good stuff on this Laeger-laced version: If You were not on our side, / If You had not bled and died for us / Jesus, what hope would there be for a wretch like me? / If You were not on our side? So good!
You Alone Are God
The last song and the third original on this EP is a statement of faith, declaring God to be the only one to whom “glory, honor and praise” are worth giving. He’s “not like these worthless things, the idols we chase.” It’s also a prayer of petition, asking God to give us ears to hear, to open our eyes, and to give us a desire to follow his ways. It’s also a praise song: May You always have our praise, / May You always have our praise, / We turn our hearts to Yours. It’s also a benediction: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” It’s also beautiful.
Now that I’ve tracked through this offering, I’d like to say a word about this EP as art. G.K. Chesterton contended that “art is born when the temporary touches the eternal.” I believe that is what the listener will experience with The Singing Company’s EP “I” – young musicians excelling at their crafts of songwriting, singing, musicianship and production – creating something in community that touches the eternal. And since we all find ourselves in various storms at times, touching the eternal is not only good art, but life-saving.