Jonathan Thulin is one of those artists who has been around for a while, but has only recently received any significant exposure. The White Room comes closely on the heels of 2011's Anatomy of a Heartflow, a solid album which presented several great songs, including the worship anthem "Jesus, You're All I Need." With such a short time span between the two projects, one might ask how much significant development could even be possible. The surprising answer is "quite a lot."
The White Room begins with a slow, vocal-driven verse on "Masquerade," but with the drop of a beat, the melody takes off into a darker, pop-based dance track. The lyrics pose a hauntingly honest examination of the 'masquerade' Christians so easily fall into: "We are wearing a mask in the truth parade; we are waving our flags upholding this charade. Will these masks ever come off?"
The album's second single, "Dead Come to Life," features Charmaine, an artist of days past until recently. The duet is effective and sharp, providing listeners with a clear presentation of God's redeeming power with lines such as, "You're calling me 'cause only with You the dead come to life." "Coat of Arms" is a good track, but it relies a little too heavily on the electronic sounds and is somewhat unmemorable. Thulin grows more personal on "Graveyard," arguably one of the album's best tracks. Reflecting on a broken relationship, he asks the cutting question, "did you lose any sleep over this at all? Now I'm just another headstone in your graveyard," and lament rings throughout his impassioned vocals when he cries out to God, "can You raise me from the dead and lay my heart to rest so I can love again?"
"Bombs Away," The White Room's first single, is the strongest track on the album. The song features yet another guest appearance, this time Rachael Lampa. Dealing with the heavy topic of how sin damages and scars our hearts, the formation of a darker piece is almost inevitable. The song nearly drowns itself in a melancholic atmosphere, bearing a flat melody line and flowing orchestra. Only when Lampa exhibits her powerful vocals does the song climax, bringing the listener to a decidedly reflective place. The music video for this song is also incredible, showcasing the song's message in a chilling fashion. "Love / War" is a good song, but is lost via awkward placement, and "Torches" does an excellent job of portraying Thulin's most powerful vocal performance yet. The lyrical meaning of the song is ambiguous, but he sings the words so intensely that little doubt can be left as to its personal nature.
The worshipful lyrics of "I Am Nothing" form an exceptional song, "'Cause I'm nothing without You inside of me; I'm incomplete, so I need you now," and "Soon" (featuring Edlen) follows suit, this time with a second voice, creating a mysteriously beautiful duet.
All closing tracks need to have a special sound or theme in order to properly frame an album, and Thulin once again does this masterfully. "Peeta" (yes, this actually is a Hunger Games reference) is able to effectively capture a redemptive temperament, and ardently defines The White Room's firm presentation of this message. The lines, "don't you want to go? Show them what you're made of, anything for freedom! May the odds be in your favorite tonight … as you change the world" dramatically close out the passionate album.
The White Room is one of the year's best albums, providing sincere, worshipful lyrics, a powerful message, and passionate vocals. It would be a dishonor to pass this album by without it first landing a listen or two in your music player.- Review date: 2/2/14, written by David Craft of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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