Tal & Acacia [Black & White]| Posted March 05, 2013 Sisters Tal & Acacia grew up in Portland, Maine, in a Christian household and attended an inner-city school their mom and dad ran for underprivileged youth. Tal & Acacia first began songwriting and playing guitar in their teen years, while the family spent an insightful year in Russia aiding a humanitarian orphan ministry. After returning from Russia, the sisters developed a stronger sense of the world during separate collegiate pursuits in opposite regions of North America. Tal & Acacia aim to create songs that wake listeners and refresh the soul. The songwriting duo’s music ministers and inspires. Realizing that sometimes we slumber in our walk with God and take a hiatus from His presence, Tal & Acacia desire to stir listeners to become alive again. From their 2009 debut album Wake Me,I really enjoyed the songs“Top Priority,” “Clearview,” “Yahweh,” “Wake Me (Noah’s Song)” and “Love’s Gonna Getcha.”
The sister duo is back with the independent albumBlack & White, a new collection of very heart-felt and introspective songs. What’s great is how the album sounds very original and yet familiar at the same time. I really enjoy how sisters Tal & Acacia blend vocally, especially on the song “This Is Love.” The song has an upbeat musical style and vulnerable vocals as the sisters harmonize “This is Love, there’s nothing left to fear, this is Love / I can finally be myself, this is Love / where our dreams can come true yet / all I want is to stay right here with You / this is Love.”“Once Upon A Time” keeps the upbeat musical flow going and firmly establishes the thesis statement of the album “No, no, it’s pointless without You, Jesus, please / I can’t live without Your love, and the storms can roll over me all again, but I’m not going nowhere to lose such a Friend…no, no, no.” The bridge “You give me life, You save my life” is a great example of the vertical lyrics found throughout this very solid “gourmet” album.
There are two songs that literally stop me in my tracks, the captivating ballads, “Stone” and “Ninety-Three.” The songs feature prayerful, personal and Scripturally inspired lyrics clinging to the hope and promise of our Rock, Jesus—“I will not give you a stone / when you’re asking for bread / No, I will not leave you alone / when My child is cryin’ / No I won’t” in “Stone.” An Enya style gorgeous musical intro flows into a beautiful and prayerful moment to praise our eternal God and Savior in the ethereal standout song, “Ninety-Three.” The sisters reverently sing—“The Lord reigns, The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty, The Lord is clothed…He has girded Himself with strength / Surely the world is established so that He cannot be moved, Your throne is established from above / You are from everlasting.” Amen.
The upbeat pop musical style returns with “Shoulders” and “That’s Me.” The sisterstrust in the Lord throughout “God Knows” as they offer themselves as living sacrifices,“God knows all my doubts, all my fears, He isn’t scared…He’d love to hold you yet again.” Don’t miss the standout closing ballads, “Hands” and “If You Think.” I can’t get enough of the prayerful and vulnerable Adele-like musical style song of surrender to Christ in “Hands.” The sisters pray like David in the Psalms—“They made my life a misery, I found soon they got no right to me, I never knew what I could be…You’re calling me to victory…I throw up my hands because I know that You’re better / give up my heart this is my true surrender” which leads to the sincere bridge “they say to leave to cleave it, want to show You that I receive it, tear the walls that block my way to You.” The album closes as strong and prayerfully as it starts with“If You Think.”
Musically, the album features a great mix of laid-back ambient pop and singer-songwriter folk style music. In the 1990’s when I wasn’t saved I was a huge fan of the mainstream singer-songwriter Jewel and her hit songs “Foolish Games” and “You Were Meant For Me” captivated me with her relatable lyrics and gorgeous vocals. Tal & Acacia has released an album with vocals and lyrics that remind me of that incredible twelve-time platinum debut album Pieces of You by Jewel. If you like Adele, A Fine Frenzy and Ellie Goulding, you’ll truly enjoy this “gourmet” collection of worshipful songs from Tal & Acacia. Give Black & White a few deep listens and you’ll love it. I hang on every single word and the stirring vocals, prayerful lyrics and musical arrangements are breath-taking. Well done and welcome back Tal & Acacia.I love to pray along with these compelling and moving songs. This album is balm for my soul.
Tal & Acacia's masterpiece debut, Wake Me arrived in stores and at online retailers via the Provident/Sony label in 2010. The record garnered national radio airplay over the next two years as the duo toured the U.S. extensively and their songs were placed prominently in both movie and television soundtracks.
In 2013, the Nashville-based sister duo returns with their self-produced, independently released sophomore effort, Black and White. And in the grand tradition of such acknowledged pop kingpins as The Beatles, The Buggles and The Bangles, Tal & Acacia have further spread their creative wings — delivering a rock solid piece of work that exemplifies their ever-maturing songwriting and offering a plethora of infectious Brian Wilson-like earworms.
Recorded, engineered and mixed by Joe Hutchinson at Carport Studios in Nashville, Black and White is more organic-sounding than T&A's debut — due primarily to the luscious Richard Carpenter-caliber layered vocal arrangements, the warmth and beauty of the oft used Rhodes piano and the oh-so fat live drums. In addition to the sisters' own stellar vocal, guitar and keyboard contributions, the support cast of bassist Loren "Snoopy" Clark, drummer Kyle Hicks, violinist Jesse Hale and percussionist Almichael Rodgers also all deserve kudos for their super rock star performances.
Standout tracks including, "Once Upon a Time," "Shoulders" and "All in All" further showcase the duo's retro-sounding pop style. And with its super groovy "Ooh, la da dee la, da" sing-along chorus, "That's Me" is also a tremendous gem.
However, despite my personal penchant for their snappier ditties, a few of the record's slower tempo tunes actually shine the brightest. Clearly referencing Scriptures, the blues-flavored "Stone" and the delicate "Ninety-Three," both address a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ.
Sweet and subtle, "Hands" is not only the crowning jewel of the record, it also serves as a vivid audio snapshot of the duo at their absolute best. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit that this one is so powerful that it actually gives me heart palpitations and makes breathing difficult. In fact, it likely will soon prompt intergalactic hipsters to ask earnestly, "Adele who?"
What I continue to find most compelling about Tal & Acacia's music is that they aren't shy about combining bold messages of personal faith with their everyday life experiences. Although it's a road less traveled by many of their contemporaries, it's an honest and refreshing approach that only makes sense, as Christians do fall in and out of love — we walk our dogs, go to the movies and all sorts of other "normal" stuff. Shocking, I know.
But jeez Louise, three years is a flippin' long gap in between records. So, was it worth the wait? Oh, double heck yeah to the tenth power! In fact, Black and White is such an exciting record, it compels me to put on crazy-looking pants and do funny dances through the streets as I shout with joy.