|Beacon of Hope | Posted February 02, 2014
City Harbor teammates Molly Reed and Robby Earle are poised to become Christian music's favorite new pop duo. The Sparrow Records pair (in case you're wondering, they're not married) chose their name out of a desire to create music that offers a safe haven where people can gather to wait out the storms of life.
Molly, who is married to Mike Grayson from Mikeschair, has already established a name for herself in Nashville as a songwriter. Her songs have been recorded by Christian artists like Amy Grant, Francesca Battistelli and Point of Grace, as well as Country artists like the legendary Wynonna Judd and The Voice winner Danielle Bradbery. She has chosen to join her pen and her voice to those of twenty-two-year-old newcomer Robby Earle.
City Harbor's eponymous debut is the full-length follow up to their Come However You Are EP. City Harbor offers up seven new songs in addition to three of the four songs from the EP for a total of ten tracks. The project, produced by Ben Glover, David Garcia, and Matt Bronleewe, shines a bright spotlight on these two youthful songwriters.
From the get-go, City Harbor is musically bright, pointing to an eternal hope that exists even in a dark, broken world. In its verses, "Like I Am" examines the insecurities we all have that serve as obstacles to our belief that we could be not only loveable, but worthy of God's acceptance. The chorus expresses thanks to God for His unconditional love: "Even with my complications / Your love has no hesitation / You see the good, You see the bad / And You love me, You love me like I am."
The songs on City Harbor don't shy away from hard topics. Addressing the question of pain, "Your Love Still Wins" reminds that God never promised us an easy life: "I know that we are all broken people born into struggle and sin / You never said You would keep us from heartache / But I know You've stood where we stand." Having suffered himself, Jesus uniquely understands our strife, and because He conquered death and the grave we can trust His promises: "I hold on to the things You've promised, yeah / This world will put up a fight / but You've conquered it / Whatever comes in my life, Your love still wins."
"I Still Believe" confronts the realities of darkness and despair while resting in God's steadfast love– "a love I know is here even when that's not how I feel." Similarly themed songs "I Will Rest" and "You're There" lend comfort as they paint the picture of an unshakeable, unchangeable, ever-present God who renders fear impotent.
Just as we may deal with hardship, we might also witness others' misery. With the impassioned "Somebody Tell Them," City Harbor implores their listeners to share the hope of Christ with "a sea of broken hearts that are longing to be washed away by an ocean of truth." With current single "Come However You Are," the duo takes their own advice. Drawing inspiration from His words in Matthew 11:28, City Harbor brings Jesus to the lost and hurting, offering as panacea a loving, forgiving God with open arms: "Come however you are / Come with all your heartbreaks / Come with all the mistakes you've made / Lay them down at the cross / Give them to the God who loves you / hurt, scarred, falling apart / Come however you are."
City Harbor further entreats us to surrender our lives to Jesus with "Lift It Up" and "Leave It Here." The latter is a beautiful song about letting go of the past and its disappointments. Rather than holding onto hurts like "a box of stones," the song employs vivid imagery to encourage us to unburden ourselves: "Take the wounds and the weight / every layer that you wear / And just leave it here." I picture one shedding hindrances like shame and fear, heartache and loneliness, peeling them off like layers of an onion, until his or her heart feels weightless and free. This is what it feels like when we make Jesus the center of our lives, our "Heartbeat."
The album, which looks at both the good and bad of life, retains an optimistic sound full of shimmering major key numbers. Whether trading off vocals or complementing and supporting one another, Molly and Robby are in fine form throughout. Their words and voices are earnest, genuine, and compelling. The album's only downside is that it ends too soon. However, fewer songs help the record achieve a tight focus.
A strong debut from a promising new duo, City Harbor is a beacon of hope, safely guiding troubled hearts through life's sometimes unsafe waters to find respite in the arms of a Savior who is an impregnable stronghold. According to their website, City Harbor's songs "come from a desire to know Christ and to make Christ known to the world." Mission accomplished!
Song to Download Now:
"Come However You Are"
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