It's been two-and-a-half years since United Pursuit Band's Michael Ketterer released Love/War/Solar System, a passionate, aggressive pop album that introduced 1980s-era synths before it was cool again. On top of that, he had accessible, songs about the human experience, which always points towards a need of God.
Now, after years of serving faithfully in the Memphis, Tenn. area as a part of the United Pursuit community, Ketterer has more to say, and this time, it's vertically oriented. Along with his United Pursuit companions, Ketterer unveils The Wild Inside, a project that translates his family's very personal experiences into universal truths and expressions of worship.
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Meditation Meets Declaration| Posted July 07, 2014
Michael Ketterer became a favorite among NRT staff several years ago when he released his debut solo project Love/War/Solar System, which was a funky, pop-driven, refreshing dose of something completely different in Christian music.
Now, three years after that release, Ketterer has returned, fueled by his life experiences, which include living as part of the United Pursuit community in Knoxville, Tenn., and—perhaps most poignantly—adopting four boys from the foster care system.
The result of these experiences is The Wild Inside, a 12-track collection of songs that merge the artistry we saw from Ketterer’s debut with his “soaking” style of worship as part of United Pursuit Band.
This project vacillates between ambient, atmospheric, meditative worship album (a la United Pursuit Band) and electronic-soul-pop-worship anthems.
In the ambient, meditative realm, “Awaken the Child” is a prayer for childlike faith, wrapped in playful tones. Violins and reverb-drenched “ahhs” fill “Be Your Heart,” and a chorus of children near the end of the song is especially moving and memorable as Ketterer sings about being Christ’s hands and feet. “Praises”, “My Salvation”, “Pressing On” (briefly featuring United Pursuit’s Will Regan) and “The One Who Sees” all bring reflective, soundtrack-like ballads that are easy in which to get submerged. (That’s a good thing.)
While the “soaking” songs are excellent for prayer time, private worship or meditation, Ketterer shines most on the big-sounding, anthemic, declarative songs on this album.
“For Freedom” is triumphant and large, with electronic embellishments and electric guitars serving as a backdrop for Ketterer’s soulful chorus (complete with soaring “oohs”). This song is easily singable and declares the rescue Jesus brought us: “For freedom / You paid the price / to give us life.”
Perhaps the most 1980s-sounding, electronically influenced song, “Shine Your Light,” is another album highlight. This track finds a good balance between meditative and “congregational,” starting low and building to a passionate peak. The song provides one of the best breakdowns on the album, with the bridge resounding, “You are my God and Your love endures forever.”
The standout song on this album is “Dry and Broken,” which features acoustic guitar, orchestral strings, a thunderous, driving beat that paints an epic background for Ketterer to sing about how the love of Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit fills us up and gives life to dry bones. It’s exciting, particularly when you sing along to the phrases, “We surrender to Your love!” and “We speak to these dry bones, life and breath and hope!”
“Coming Alive,” which was featured on Ketterer’s moving and inspirational album teaser video for The Wild Inside, has an epic soundtrack feeling to it, with dramatic statements presented dramatically throughout, such as: “Such peace I could never fake when I’m near you,” and, “I feel the scales falling off my eyes,” and, “We join in with the angels, we join in with all the saints, we join in with creation, worthy is the lamb-worthy is the lamb!”
Those expecting a follow-up to Love/War/Solar System aren’t going to find it, as this album certainly has taken more of a vertical direction. (The closest Ketterer comes to Love/War/Solar System is a much-stripped-down reprise of “Wild One” that opens the record.) That said, there’s plenty to love here, and fans of Ketterer’s unique voice will find many special moments.
Michael Ketterer walks the line of styles, tones and themes very well here, and there’s no question this is an anointed album rife with personal passion that comes from pursuing the kingdom of God in a number of ways. This is an album for reflecting on the amazing things Jesus has done, is doing, and offers to us now.
Song to Download Now:
“Dry and Broken” (Get it on iTunes here.)