The sophomore slump; no one is exempt as it can happen to some of the best bands. One excellent album can be followed by something that critics and fans find to be too different or too similar to the debut release. And some of these musical careers become victims of a premature funeral. In the case of relative newcomers The City Harmonic, there is no slump to be found on their latest release Heart.
Beginning the album is the methodical "Here and There," with elegant piano and soft strings welcoming listeners to figuratively experience life. The lyrics allude to the birth and growth of a Christian as Elias Dummer sings softly, "Heart beat, little heart there You are, there You are. I came kicking, I came screaming: I was so used to the dark. You whispered 'light' and lit a spark and there You are, there You are. I've been living, I've been dying and Your heart beats ever on." Plus, the music is so gorgeously arranged that it complements the lyrics perfectly. This theme of God shining His light into our dark hearts is carried throughout the album. "Strong" is an excellent example of this being taken to a slightly aggressive level with a pop flair.
"Alive, Alive" echoes that anthem sound that brought attention to TCH a few years ago, but it so smoothly embraces contemporary sounds to make it not feel like something that they've done previously. In addition, the loud proclamation of God bringing us to life from our dead state of sin is nailed on the head in an aggressive and catchy way. "Glory" parallels this song while also adding a corporate worship element to it. Worship leaders looking for a theologically pumped song that is sure to get all ages singing, will find an excellent one here.
Probably one of the greatest and most humbling moments on the album is "Love Heal Me," featuring the vocals of bassist Eric Fusilier. Fusilier recently went through a battle with cancer and listeners can surely believe his words are heartfelt when he sings, "I'm crying out in my disease I'm so worn down. So won't You speak and tell me how You care for me. 'Cause You are God, you heal all things. Your name is Love so love heal me." It's an intimate moment that isn't dressed up with much music but is raw, real, and filled with lyrical grace. Those looking for a little bit of hope need to hear this song.
Another lovely highlight is the heartwarming ballad "1+1." It is simply a song about a godly Christian marriage; two hearts joined together but are united by the Lord or as Elias sings, "Thank God it's one plus one, and that makes three of us… I am hers, she is mine and we dance in the palm of your hand 'cause a chord of three strands is not easily broken." Appropriately guiding these sweet words is a waltz tempo that is beautifully composed with strings. Husbands and wives may find this to be their new theme song for their marriage. It is Christ-centered, romantic, and sounds amazing.
Many listeners will be pleased with such excellent songs like "Praise the Lord," "City On A Hill," and "Live Love" as they really build off of their signature sound. Furthermore, some listeners may be pleasantly surprised by the folky rich sounds that can be found on "Long Walk Home" and "Brand New." Not only are these songs well structured but also a number of them are usable in church settings.
Concluding the album is the epic cover of "My Jesus, I Love Thee." If the hymn wasn't appreciated enough before, this rendition might garner attention from a younger group of people. Its ethereal sound builds throughout the track and resolves softly by singing of loving Jesus, all because He first loved us.
Heart is nothing less than breathtaking. Track one to fourteen is a journey of grief, hope, healing, celebration, and salvation. The City Harmonic has once again given listeners something creative and fresh. It's incredible to watch this band grow and mature into much more than just the average group of musicians - they're helping to lead a charge of new anthems for a new generation. Well done fellas, well done.- Review date: 9/1/13, written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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