An Acoustic Project
Posted January 06, 2012
By SarahFine_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Christian music has seen it’s fair share of pop acts come and go in the last several years. It often seems that most of them gain some momentum, have a huge hit, then fall of the face of the planet. In other cases however, it’s more than a band’s successes that drive them to continue on their artistic journey, but rather, their dedication to stay in the race. Such is the case, with up-and-coming boy band, Anthem Lights.
The group, made up of four Liberty University alumni, made their entrance onto the music scene in early 2011 with their self-titled debut project, and ever since then, they’ve ridden a wave of continued success. Having already toured alongside CCM veterans such Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys, Jars Of Clay and MercyMe, they are ardently avoiding the “one hit wonder” path many in their genera have followed. This due, not only to they’re undying passion for the music they make, but also, to the constant support of their army-like fan base, also known as the “Lightbulbs.”
As a matter of fact, it was the fans they had in mind as they went forward with making what we now know as The Acoustic Sessions EP. Having garnered a large following via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, a string of acoustic videos the band recorded in their free time led to the petition of a stripped down vocal project. And as the saying goes? Supply and demand.
“Can’t Shut Up” starts this EP off with a bang. The song has gone on to become the bands first successful single, and will be familiar to the listener right away. The groups broken down arrangement of “Circles” comes next, and might be, dare I say, better than original studio version. The earthy acoustics give it a subtle folk feel which suits their vocal styling’s nicely. It’s a nice change up, and I’d love to see them pursue more arraignments like this one on their next album.
The acoustic rendition of “Can’t Get Over You” was initially posted as one of the aforementioned video’s to the group’s YouTube page earlier this year, it’s popularity landing the audio portion onto this EP. While the mix is extremely simple, it’s the vocals that steal the show. With the production stripped away, you’re able to hear all four guys seamless harmonies, and also, their worshipful ministry heartbeat. This was one of my favorite songs from the band’s debut album, and to hear it in a new light has given me a newfound respect for the lyrics and message behind it.
A fantastic cover of “In The Light,” featuring guest vocals by up-and-coming Gotee Records artist, Jamie Grace, comes as a welcomed treat. Although not written by the group, ever since appearing on dc Talk’s “Jesus Freak” record, it has gone on to spawn multiple covers, some being more memorable than the others. Of those many covers however, this version ranks among the elite. It brings to mind dc Talk’s own acoustic version from their live album years ago, and with the soulful addition of Jamie Grace’s Colbie Caillat-like vocals, you’d almost think the band wrote the song themselves. They completely own it and have done a classic justice.
Bringing this all too brief EP to a close is another cover, a splendid rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are.” This was yet another song the group originally posted to YouTube several months back, but it’s overnight success among both Christian and secular music fans landed it a well-deserved spot on this album. Blue-penciling the more risqué lyrics, the band does an awesome job of taking a song otherwise deemed unfitting, and makes it all their own. It’s a fun way to end a great project.
I fully believe projects of this sort are underrated. Not only in Christian music, but music in general. As much as I enjoy the sound of a polished studio record, sometimes, it’s good to just get back to the basics. To allow the listener to hear the core of song, and with Anthem Lights’ The Acoustic Sessions EP, they’ve done just that. Granted, it lacks any new material, and that might come as a turn-off to some buyers who already own the original songs, but if your looking to hear more of the heart behind this band, or possibly see what they’re all about, this would be the perfect place to start. This is a well executed side project, and I very much hope to see some of it’s elements implemented into Anthem Lights’ new music in the near future.
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