Every decision heard on a great musical project should feel unquestionably necessary. On a fundamental level, if the sounds of the instruments and vocals don't mesh well, there isn't much of a chance that the other aspects of the songs will be properly heard. FoldingLight's 5-song Exiles features deliberate lyrical concepts and a couple ear-perking tunes, but it leans towards generic worship motifs and factitious timbres a bit too much to be all that interesting. Most of the runtime rests in all-too-familiar worship beats that come across as bland, particularly on the opener (“Fear the Night”) and closer (“Rebuild”). Booming drums and power chords feature just enough energy to be appropriate for church, but not enough to be memorable. Sometimes the timbres work really well, as displayed by the darker Western tone of “Noose,” but choruses and verses usually lack aural connection, as on “Fear the Night.” Perhaps the main antagonist against cohesion here is the pairing of Michael Ball's soft and delicate vocal style with arena-style light rock. His vocals work best on the experimental electronic track, “Nehemiah,” and one wonders if more of an ambient setting is the type of music that Ball's voice is made for. His lack of energy doesn't quite fit the louder moments of these songs, but more of an acoustic approach next time around could be compelling.
Street Date: May 26, 2017
Style: Indie / Acoustic Pop
Buy It: iTunes
Buy It: AmazonMP3
The most refreshing aspect of this EP is the inspiration behind the lyrics: Nehemiah and the Israelite rebuilding of the temple during exile. Lines like "Nehemiah worked…/Repairing holes in sinner's hearts and homes" make for a more thoughtful listen than typical worship fare, and this vein runs noticeably throughout each of the songs. Still, many of the verses rest in phrases that have been used tirelessly by Ball's worship contemporaries (“Heal this broken heart/Heal this broken life” on “Rebuild,” for example). There's definitely potential for FoldingLights to grow into something more sonically united and adventurous. Ball's soothing vocal approach is worth hearing, but it's understandable if most of the runtime will cause Exiles to be quickly forgotten.
- Review date: 5/21/17, written by Mason Haynie of Jesusfreakhideout.com