I'll be completely honest. Next to nothing that comes out of mainstream CCM excites me anymore. It's not a personal vendetta against the industry. It just seems to me that art and talent have taken a backseat to what sells these days. None of this is to say that there are not exceptions, because there are. But the bulk of what makes up mainstream CCM just seems to lack passion, drive, and, dare I say, talent.
And then comes a band like Leeland. Out of Baytown, Texas, these five young men (Vocalist Leeland Mooring was still seventeen during the recording of this album) have signed to Essential Records and are ready to release their mainstream debut Sound of Melodies. With a little Coldplay, a bit of Muse, and even some throwback to the Beatles, Leeland has the accessibility to get radio airplay, but enough "indie appeal" to keep kids singing along that normally wouldn't turn on a radio. The instrumental arrangements (Pianos, and string arrangements included) are thought out and intricate, and Leeland Mooring's at times soaring, and at other times peaceful vocals are a lot more mature than most of his mainstream counterparts.
You can hear the passion in his voice as he relays the lyrics he himself has penned. Mooring is a talented songwriter, and the proof is written all over Sound of Melodies. The lyrics are catchy and beautiful, but most of all, they are delicately penned love songs to Godů so much so, that some might be quick to label this a "worship album." They'd be exactly right.
Songs like "Reaching" and "Sound of Melodies" relate the Church's praises to God, "Can You hear the sound of melodies/ Rising up to You, God/ The sound of Your love/ Is what You're hearing/ The sound of Your sons/ You want Your children/ Your daughters in love/ You want Your Children." "Tears of the Saints" is a desperate cry for the Church to be missionaries to our own culture, "Even churches have forsaken/ Love and mercy/ May we see this generation/ In its state of desperation/ For Your glory/ This is an emergency."
Whether Leeland is picking up speed on "Reaching," or offering a mostly acoustic ballad on "Beautiful Lord," Sound of Melodies is a real winner. Perhaps even better: It's exciting. Such promise in such a young band is hard to come by, but Leeland is the poster child. Not only is this arguably the best thing to come out of Essential Records since Jars of Clay debuted in 1995, but it's also one of the most important releases in recent CCM history.- PReview date: 5/16/06; Review date: 8/13/06, written by Josh Taylor
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