After two highly acclaimed albums, Tenth Avenue North takes a bold creative leap forward on its new album, The Struggle. Inviting fans all over the country to lend their voices to the process as they recorded this album in cities along its tour route, the songs explore themes of forgiveness, redemption and grace.
"We really fostered the dance of both the music and they lyric while thematically unpacking the idea of what it means to struggle," says lead vocalist Mike Donehey. "We are free to struggle, but don't need to struggle to be free. It's about the permission to struggle but also a challenge not to stay there." With The Struggle the band offers up lyrically substantive songs people have come to expect from Tenth Avenue North.
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Tenth Avenue North [The Struggle]| Posted October 16, 2012 After two highly acclaimed albums Tenth Avenue North takes a bold creative leap forward on its new album, The Struggle. Inviting fans all over the country to lend their voices to the process as they recorded this album in cities along its tour route, the songs explore themes of forgiveness, redemption and grace. "We really fostered the dance of both the music and the lyric while thematically unpacking the idea of what it means to struggle," says lead vocalist Mike Donehey. "We are free to struggle, but don't need to struggle to be free. It's about the permission to struggle but also a challenge not to stay there." With The Struggle, the band offers up lyrically substantive songs people have come to expect from Tenth Avenue North.
The opening set of tracks are all among the best songs I’ve heard on any album in the past few years. From the beginning notes of “Shadows,” I was hooked by the lyrical and musical intensity of the album. The opener kicks off the musical journey immediately relating to listeners, “We’re born into the longing,” which leads to the confessional chorus—“I’ve been running / chasing nothing but shadows / Oh Lord please come / raise my dead heart...You can keep me from chasing after the shadows.” The great Brit-rock style guitar riffs are found throughout this substantive album. “The Struggle” has more vertical lyrics: “Why do I still give in to temptation…I will trust You, take You at Your Word.” That leads to the freedom we can all proclaim as believers in the sincere chorus, “Hallelujah, we are free to struggle / we’re not struggling to be free / Your blood bought it / makes us children / children drop your chains and sing.” Amen! “Worn” is a beautiful, confessional ballad highlighted by Mike Donehey’s vocal delivery as he prays, “I know that I need to lift my eyes up…but I know that You can give me rest, so I cry out with all that I have left…let me see redemption win / let me know the struggle ends / that You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn /and all that’s dead inside can be reborn / because I’m worn.” The song has quickly become a prayerful anthem in my daily devotional time.
All of these songs are poignant and powerful with earnest worshipful lyrics. “Losing” is filled with the biblical truth about the need for forgiveness—“Oh Father, won’t You forgive them, they don’t know what they’ve been doing / Oh Father, give me grace to forgive them / ‘cause I feel like the one losing.” Corrie ten Boom was known to say that “God put our sins in the deepest sea and then put up a sign that said, No Fishing.” There is no fishing for our own sins, nor any for the sins of others. As God’s children, He removes our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west” – Psalm 103:12. “You Do All Things Well” is another vertical expression of adoration and includes another great guitar riff. Piano based closing song “Lamb of God” could be added to church worship services. The song features a beautiful choir backed proclamation, “You are Holy, You are Worthy, You are Holy, You’re the Lamb of God.” Amen!
The Struggle is a great collection of confessional and authentic expressions of faith. It appears that the success of the band has allowed them to creatively express themselves and for me that has really paid off with yet another “best” album. The album’s themes are brokenness, healing, forgiveness and mercy. Once again the songs are poignant and powerful, and in recording the new tunes, the band brings a more seasoned level of musicianship and intensity, on par with Coldplay, Hillsong UNITED and Jars of Clay. For me the stand-out songs are “Shadows,” “The Struggle,” “Worn,” “Losing,” “You Do All Things Well” and “Lamb of God.” With one listen to this albumit is obvious Tenth Avenue North is taking another bold step forward on their musical journey.
Great Album| Posted December 12, 2014 The Struggle released right at a time in my life when I really needed it. When I was very much in a "Struggle" of my own. Two years ago, I had badly broken my ankle, and couldn't walk on my own for months. Just recently I was diagnosed with non-functioning gallbladder disease, symptoms of which developed shortly after I began walking again. This album has continued to bless me everyday! "Worn," "Losing," and "Don't Stop the Madness" are some of my favorites, but overall, a wonderful album for anybody who is going through something, feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders, or is just a fan of worship music!
Reminder| Posted January 03, 2014
This album has some amazing songs. These songs reach to those hurting and are in need of a reminder that God is still there. :)
Several of the songs on this album were helpful when tring to encourage my friend in her walk with God.
The Struggle| Posted October 24, 2013
I love this album so much! My favorite songs are "Worn" and "Don't stop the madness". Those songs bring out that even if God let us pass through some hard times in our lives, He will still be with us and He has a reason for letting us suffer.
Awesome| Posted March 10, 2013
I love this album! It varies from upbeat catchy songs to the slower, mellow ones. Mike's voice sounds wonderful and the messages behind the songs are great! I bought this album and listened to it over and over.
Tenth Avenue North The Struggle| Posted September 25, 2012
The third album of an artist's career is probably one of their most important. It decides whether the artists will go on to have a long and healthy career or fade into oblivion. This is mainly due to the fact that most artists sign three album record deals and if album #3 does not perform well, they are handed a pink slip. With the success Tenth Avenue North has had up to this point, there is no reason to think that their label, Reunion Records, would ever consider getting rid of these guys, but from an artistic perspective, The Struggle is an important statement. Somewhere between Over and Underneath and The Light Meets the Dark, TAN morphed from a radio band into an art-pop critical darling and expectations are high for The Struggle. So how to the boys from West Palm Beach do? That depends on who you ask. This is not the magnum opus some critics were hoping for but there is obvious growth musically, lyrically, and vocally by the band that will please most listeners. While some may feel this release is not upbeat enough, or quirky enough, or boundary pushing enough, I think this record is exactly the musical statement Tenth Avenue North needed to make. One must understand that TAN will always be the band that properly straddles the fence between radio fodder and art. They are not trying to be Muse or Bon Iver, nor do they wish to be Maroon 5 or Lifehouse. They are somewhere in the middle and that's a good thing. In fact, they are exactly the type of artist that Christian Radio needs: someone who will push the envelope lyrically and musically all while staying within the accepted framework of CCM radio. Most importantly, TAN points listeners back to the Word of God as the final authority in our lives, which is a refreshing change from the typical "feelings" oriented music generally found on CCM radio today.
Musically, this album keeps in line with previous releases while adding flourishes of rock ("Shadows"), Gospel ("Losing", "Grace"), and Beatlesque harmonies ("Hostage of Peace"). The Struggle does a great job of balancing the hooks and singability of Over and Underneath with the artistry and lyrical depth of The Light Meets the Dark and should have no problem adding another 3-4 radio hits to their already impressive collection of radio smashes (my bets are on "Worn", "Strangers Here"and "Where Life Will Never Die" and with current hit single "Losing"). What truly sets this album apart though is the use of the "Gang Choir" background vocals on many of the songs. In a stroke of marketing genius, TAN recorded the choir vocals for this album at various concerts throughout the country after teaching the audience some of their new songs. One group of concert attendees even make an appearance in in the music video for "Losing". The cherry on top comes one the inside backing of the CD jewel case (you know, the area behind where the actual CD is fastened) where all "choir members" aka concert attendees' names are listed in 2.5 pt font). You can bet that 99% of those individuals will be buying this album if only to see their name printed in it!
Lyrically, The Struggle is a concept album that picks up where The Light Meets the Dark left off as it wrestles with the daily grind of the Christian experience. The album cover is Rembrandt's 1633 painting, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, in which, while depicting the biblical event, the painter included 14 individuals in the boat instead of the traditional 13 (the 12 disciples and the Lord Jesus Christ). It is said that Rembrandt, himself, is the 14th individual on the boat because the Dutch painter believed that these Bible stories were applicable and relevant to everyone. Christ is with us too as we struggle through the storms of this life. And that in a nutshell is the theme of The Struggle. In the midst of our pain, shame, and turmoil, Christ is with us, Christ is in us, Christ is for us and Christ is leading us home. These themes lead the band, as it should all of us, to worship our Savior ("Lamb of God") and confess our dependence on Him ("Worn", "Losing", "Hostage of Peace", "Grace") and our surrender to His Will ("Don't Stop the Madness", "You Do All Things Well", "Strangers Here").
Over all, with The Struggle, Tenth Avenue North continues to blaze their own trail in CCM as they seek to walk the fine line between radio accessibility and artistry all while holding fast to Scripture and the glorious message of the Gospel and the result is a fine collection of songs that challenge the listener to return to the truths of scripture instead of leaning on their own understanding.
Radio Ready: Losing, Strangers Here, Worn, Where Life Will Never Die, The Struggle, Grace
iPod Picks: Strangers Here, Worn, Don't Stop the Madness, Losing, The Struggle, Shadows, Hostage of Peace