Reviewed by Jonathan Harris
Singer/songwriters Michael and Lisa Gungor are, of course, the mainstay of the musical collective Gungor and here they release the first of a trilogy of albums 'One Wild Life' which will be released over a 12 month period. A jazz guitarist by training, Michael's eclectic musicianship is never far from the surface. The first few lines of the upbeat "We Are Stronger" has a bit of the sound of Sting about it and between plenty of good bass work the song clearly sets out Gungor's stall and as the title would indicate, the song is a plea to the Church to stop focussing on the differences which divide us. Michael sings, "Every black life matters/Every woman matters/Every soldier matters/All the unborn matter/Every gay life matters/Fundamentalists matter/Here's to life and all its branches." "Us For Them" develops on a purpose of unity, with the lyrics "'cause if it's us or them, it's us for them" as the musical accompaniment juxtaposes the lyrical direction with an almost militant feel to it. Gungor caused a bit of a stir in some American church circles over the last decade in expressing their views on young earth theology but young or old earth, right at the end there's the stunning "Vapor" which expresses that "Trees clap their hands for you/Oceans they dance for you/A billion suns rise for you/Clouds paint the skies for you/Mountains stand tall for you/Valleys bow down to you/Kings become fools for you/Kingdoms to ruins for you/Vapor finds ground in you/Music finds sound in you." These lyrics left this reviewer awestruck with the song on repeat for quite some time. It's no surprise to see Michael explain that this song took him a year to write and came from a place of dismantling and reconstructing his presuppositions of God. Aside from the power behind these lyrics, it's a delight to hear the wonderfully captured cello, the recording of which appears to emit from the speakers just as it was captured by the microphone in the recording studio with a minimum of tampering en-route. Elsewhere, Michael and Lisa duet on the beautiful song "Light", which was written about their daughter Lucie (Light). The Gungors let the listener into their emotions when discovering that their new-born baby had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome as the tender lyrics are sung predominantly over a picked guitar with some slight interjection from a piano and some strings, with a delightful flurry towards the end of the song, the chorus of which is "I can't take my eyes off of you, oh my light." This album catches so many emotions so powerfully.
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