The start of 2014 brought some international flavor to the Tooth & Nail Records roster, with the addition of New Empire from Sydney, Australia. It also brought some much needed attention to a group of guys whose popularity has steadily been increasing over the years. Formed in 2005, the band has experienced the majority of their success in their native land of Australia, playing with the likes of The Almost, Owl City, Relient K, Switchfoot, Casting Crowns and Hillsong United at major national festivals and tours. Their song "One Heart/Million Voices," was even the theme song of the 2012 Summer Olympics on Australian TV. Until now though, their impact in the United States has been limited. All of that is about to change and there's really only one question remaining: what took so long?
New Empire takes the pop sensibilities of bands like Copeland, and combines them with the softer side of Hyland and Acceptance. In other words, they don't just create power ballads; they're a power ballad band. Imagine one of the most relaxing, yet dense, albums and that's In a Breath. A lot of times, songs like these make an impact because of the way that they contrast with the rest of an album. They're soft, and everything else is loud so the difference makes you pay attention. But here, each song is powerful in its own way. There's a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle spiritual imagery, ranging from the opener, "Tale of Jonah," to the electrifying single, "Relight the Fire." When frontman Jeremy Fowler sings about his faults and his struggles, it's not only accessible, but uplifting. No matter what you're going through, there's something that can touch your heart with In A Breath, and it's not just the message but the music as well.
Musically, In a Breath seems simple on the surface, but it's actually quite complicated. Layers of guitars and keys are balanced by just enough drum work, and even horns at times, making for an understated, yet beautiful collection of songs. The instrumentation complements the message in such a way that it's clear that the band is not only talented, but experienced. Dynamically, some of the album's best moments are its softest, and it's in these times that New Empire shines the brightest.
While New Empire has been around for years, In a Breath marks an impressive debut on the international stage for one of the most promising bands in Christian music today.- Preview Review date: 3/7/14, Review date: 4/6/14, written by John "Flip" Choquette of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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