First impressions frequently aren't the best thing to rely on. Take this album from the quartet from Canada for example. dOWNHERE's debut on Word Records featured an album cover which upon first glance gave me the impression we had one more boy band to contend with over here in the CCM world. Even upon hearing the first single's title, "Larger than Life," gave me a Backstreet Boy feel that really only faded away once I sat down to listen. What I found surprised me and will certainly surprise those who haven't heard much from these canuckleheads.
First off, these guys seem to take great responsibility in ministering in music. The lower case ‘d' from their name is even a statement, because they don't want too much attention. And they really haven't gotten too much, which is certainly not indicative of this project's quality. "Larger than Life" opens off the disc, with a harmonized, acoustic-driven song that boasts of the bond that good friends share. While this band has two lead singers, this track does the best at putting them both in the spotlight, allowing each to blend and make the other sound better. That's really what this song is all about. Geoff Moore and Steven Curtis started and continue this trend but these guys take it to a more modern level.
The rest of the tracks have either Marc Martel showcased or Jason Germain. Martel can be seen as definitely influenced by Kevin Max of dcTalk fame, and even sounds almost identical at certain points. Though I have always loved Kmax's originality, Martel's voice seems too copied and may hinder a listener by the all too familiar ranges he displays in the songs, "Free Me Up," "Reconcile," and "Raincoat," and "Protest to Praise." Theres no question of his talent, but it may pose as distraction sometimes.
On the flip side, the remaining tracks boast Germain's gritty and passionate vocals. The real treat of this record is the rock handling of the scripturally solid issues this band brings up. The vertical nature is all too prevalent in "Great Are You," a worship song that admires God for His bigness, yet stoops down to make Himself known to His unworthy creatures. "Calmer of the Storm" will stop you in your proverbial tracks as dOWNHERE gives a sermon in the form of a song that, to this day, makes me cry out to the Lord, praising Him that He alone is in control. "Making Me" is a reminder that continually we are being shaped into who God wants us to be, and asks the Lord to mold us to His precision. "Breathing In" allows the listener to bask in the knowledge of heaven, as we all too often don't live in the sort of expectation Jesus wanted us to. "So Blue" is a track that causes us all to remember that this world needs us to be light, for sin has so distorted a world meant to honor the Creator. "All the Reasons Why" closes the song list with a praise song just boasting to God about His greatness for allowing us to sing to Him. A hidden track is a wacky treat to the serious tone of the record that will make you grin by the sheer silliness of it, but that's what hidden tracks are supposed to be about. It fits in only because it is hidden, and makes you appreciate why it is important to look at the overall picture from God's perspective. The small things we tend to make our focus probably look just as silly to God as this song sounds on this album.
Overall, this record cannot be missed. It certainly makes you bask in the knowledge of the Father, thankful for the gift of the Savior, and will only aid in worship in the Spirit and in truth. Every song is biblically inspired revealed by the various verses hanging atop the album cover lyrics page and may just as well serve as a devotion while the instrumentation floats through the air. Be warned, however, it's almost impossible not to sing along to every word these guys have poetically penned. Pick it up if you haven't - these guys are well worth the listen.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 7/12/03, written by Jared Decker for Jesusfreakhideout.com
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