Kahlil Gibran called music "the language of the spirit". This leaves the musician with a strange and beautiful vocation. Without knowing it, they peddle in a divine tongue, their strings and bows creating atmospheres that are beyond earthly conversation.
The Ember Days is a band whose pursuit of these conversations stretches out across the Middle America highway. They play for presence. When founder Jason Belcher speaks of the band, he speaks as if addressing a divine transaction.
"After all these years, the most rewarding thing is still seeing legitimate and quantifiable life changes through encounters with God through what we do."
Even after three studio albums and eight years on the road, The Ember Days' mission remains: make beautiful, honest music that speaks of the fount of creation. It's not so much a lofty calling as much as it is a humble realization of something that is larger than the sum of their parts.
It's a realization that has transformed them personally as much as it has their audience. 2013's More Than You Think was a catalyst for the band, in particular frontwoman Janell Belcher, who struggled through a draining case of Lupus throughout the recording.
"The thing that makes this record special for me is the fact that so much of it was written during a hard time in my life" says Janell, "The battles with sickness, the struggles with faith, the questions, the hope, and the breakthrough were all captured in the music on the album."
More Than You Think stands as The Ember Days' most vulnerable and authentic album yet. Grammy Award-winning producers Ed Cash and Paul Moak coached the band through the process, making them record live in studio and keeping any touchups to a minimum. "Paul helped us realize that a moment, even captured in rawness, makes you feel the heart of the song," explains Jason, "it should be left alone unless absolutely necessary".
Even though it might have seemed a natural progression, the genesis of the band's upcoming live EP is still a complete accident. It began with an offhand thought in the band's RV on the way to a gig at Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry. "The main idea was that we wanted people to be able to experience worshiping with us live from wherever they were" says Jason of the project, "We thought at most, we'd get a little video footage."
When they reviewed the footage, it became clear to Jason that what they had was bigger than the sum of them all.
"When the engineer pulled up the session and pressed play, our jaws dropped. We were hearing the songs functioning as they had been designed to. We were hearing a band playing some songs, and thousands of people having a moment with their Savior."
In the light of such a sacred moment, the band decided to employ the advice they had received from Paul Cash and Ed Moak. "We decided to leave it exactly as it was, mistakes, imperfections - no overdubs," says Jason, "What you will experience on this record is an honest representation of an honest moment."
"I hope that people will have a real spiritual experience," adds Janell, "I hope they will be drawn to the Lord. I hope they hear truth. I hope they will experience healing. I hope it will result in thanksgiving and praise."
Armed with these hopes and prayers, The Ember Days deliver their first live experience; the sound of a band stepping out of the way to let the spirit do the talking.