Within the first few seconds of the opening number "The Long Walk," it is apparent that the young men of the band Caleb (including Steven Curtis Chapman's two sons, Caleb and Will Franklin, on vocals/guitars and drums respectively) have a great deal to say, both musically and thematically. "It's been a long walk around this wall, and by the looks of things I've got a ways to go" sings lead singer Caleb, in a tone reminiscent of The Killers' lead singer Brandon Flowers, but with the snarkiness of Flowers's voice replaced with genuine emotion and humility. A statement like this, from a young man Caleb's age is, in itself, a bit of a revelation. Young men are generally pretty sure of themselves and filled with a sense of knowing everything. A confession as rare and spot-on as this suggests that the Chapman's did a fine job instilling a sense of humility and wisdom in their sons. An awareness of how long the road to maturity or recovery (over the e.p.'s seven tracks there is a genuine sense in the lyrics of mourning and working through a tragedy) comes as a welcome reprieve from much of Christian culture that approaches grieving with a fairly secular "smile and get over it" philosophy.
And the fact that such young men rock with a mature abandon is also quite rare. With musical cues taken from such Britpop acts as Coldplay, Keane and Travis, Caleb has, with their latest EP, already created a more mature body of work than many bands twice their age. With the aforementioned theme of working through a tragedy, To The Ends Of The World moves from the realization of the length of time grieving takes ("The Long Walk"), to an honest statement of grieving's difficulties ("The Hardest Part Of Losing You"), to the back and forth emotions of recovery ("Home"). "I kept my head turned to the right, hoping the pain would pass me by," confesses the songwriter, but he "almost missed it, standing at the grave;" he "found direction." In "If This River Runs Dry," Caleb uses the divine perspective to say "that if this river runs dry, I'll be standing here waiting for you, and I know you'll be waiting too" (perhaps a reference to a reunion with the loved one in the world beyond).
In "Better Off," a bit of resolution is found, and in the epic closing title track, the scope of the fall and history are covered with a few lines worthy of C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. Again using the divine perspective, the singer states "you fight love, like a champion fights, you run and fight" but that the Lord will "fight for you nevertheless" and that He "will fight till I die for you, you can't escape my love." With a music build worthy of a Coldplay or a U2, the divine voice states that "I will fight for you till the ends of the world, you can't escape my love."
The closing coda "Reprise," with its Mutemath-like drumming and moody piano serves as a necessary punctuation to the theme of the album, and is a potent reminder of the length of God's love for humanity and especially for "those who mourn" (as stated by Jesus in the Sermon On The Mount).
With only seven songs, Caleb has produced one of the best musical treatments of grieving and loss that have ever come out of the Christian music landscape. This album should be recomended listening for anyone who has suffered a loss, and is hands down the best indie release in a long time.
- Review date: 4/30/12, written by Tincan Caldwell of Jesusfreakhideout.com