Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
The Florida-based CCM hitmakers have come a long way since their obscure independent releases. A couple of years after 'The Struggle', the band returns with what is arguably their best work to-date. The band's desire is to see people encounter truth as, "if emotion isn't being evoked by truth, it just doesn't last" and this continues to be clearly demonstrated in their writing. Mike Donehey succinctly summarises the thrust of this CD; "So many of us live in isolation and we really don't have to. So the idea is: 'Hey, get in the boat with us, sail by the stars of God's promises and reach the shore of community.' We realise that when we start to live together, we become the cathedrals on earth. We are the place where the Spirit resides. He no longer dwells in buildings but in each of us." This somewhat serious message is partnered with another set of catchy and emotive songs demonstrating the band's musicality, expertly honed by producer John Fields (Switchfoot, Pink) to produce a smoother overall sound than previously. "No Man Is An Island" kicks off as a solid, radio-friendly opening statement of the key message and each subsequent song develops a different aspect of this theme. The highlight is the coupling of "Iesu, Dulcis Memoria", a section of the hymn attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux and sung in harmony by Audrey Assad, with the energetic title track. This is reminiscent of Downhere's powerful song "Cathedral Made Of People", and begins with the beautiful lines, "We were built by the hands of love/Redeemed in spite of what we've done.../Let joy take temptation's place." Another highlight is "Heaven's Sound", an encouragement to join in the victorious "song forever being sung by the redeemed," portraying the imagery of Heaven's sound being like "we're finally breathing...the guilty being clean...the rolling of thunder...prisoners free." "All The Earth Is Holy Ground" is a welcome break in pace as we pause to consider the sovereignty of God over his world and the challenge to us as Christians, "Now wherever I go I bring the Kingdom come/Let my song resound/All the earth is holy ground." This kingdom theme continues in "For Those Who Can't Speak", which deals with the evil of slavery and a challenge to "use my voice for those who can't speak." This Deluxe version of the CD includes songs from the 'Islands' EP as well as the contents of 'Cathedrals' which includes the gem at the end, "Forgive Me", a sobering prayer for forgiveness for living for ourselves, "for living like I'm not yours." In summary, a great set of songs that build on past work and delivers a strong message from one of the best bands currently working in CCM.
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