STYLE: Rock RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 18072-11276 LABEL: Fair Trade Services 000768387221 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £4.99
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
In an illuminating sleevenote the band's frontman Bart Millard writes about the pressure of people's expectations, "Some days it is the expectations of our ministry or the music industry. Other days we wonder if a song we've written will be embraced by our listeners." There, of course, is the rub. Having written a "I Can Only Imagine" people are continually asking whether these pop rockers from Texas can deliver another one. Chances are they can't and have clearly come to a place where they're not at all concerned by the lack of a potential multi-million seller. To quote again them that sleevenote, "The music and message of this album is all over the place and we love it! There are songs that go deeper than we have ever gone before, there are songs that are as shallow as some of the swimming pools my brother and I wrestled in. And the good news is.it is OK!" The songs here bristle with sincerity - themes explored including the need to hold on to the things of God ("Hold Fast"); dying to the tyranny of being in control ("So Long Self"); recovering from the knockdowns of life ("Last One Standing"); and two songs tied up with the whole songwriting experience, "Something About You" and "3.42am (Writer's Block)" which explore the paradoxes and frustrations of trying to write about a God who eludes all our efforts to encapsulate him in words. Throughout the album the melodies are strong, Bart's voice retains its rough-hewn bluesy quality while the production by studio maestro Brown Bannister is an exemplary example of pitching rock at Top 40 radio. Also outstanding are the string arrangements (recorded at Abbey Road no less) while the gospel choir on "Bring On The Rain" is a delightful touch. Expect to hear a lot of these songs on the radio in the months ahead.
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Four years ago MercyMe was propelled into the spotlight with several hit songs – they experienced success but were also faced with some of the greatest personal challenges of their lives. Although at times they were overwhelmed, they came up to breathe with their faith intact.
When it came to start recording this album, MercyMe locked themselves into a studio with award-winning producer Brown Bannister and poured out all that was on their hearts. Not concerned with the songs fitting a certain ‘theme’, MercyMe put their focus into creating an album that is a testimony to God’s sustaining grace while continuing to explore musical landscapes. The result is the most upbeat and accessible album of their career with 'Coming Up To Breathe'.