Hymns of Hope
Posted September 09, 2012
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Recent Integrity Music signees Brothers McClurg are seeking to spark a revival, and their album of rich modern-day hymns might be a good start.
The group (named for founding brothers Anthony and Christopher Hoisington) draws on a layered, folk-influenced sound to frame its anthems of hope and renewal. The dynamic album, Join in the Sound, swings through softer, more meditative tracks and tracks with a much broader scope that could easily be drawn on in a corporate worship setting.
The album begins with a track featuring the sounds of the band tuning, a beginning that draws the listener into a setting that feels almost like they are seated in front of the band, watching them as they begin to play. Opening selection “Join in the Sound” further enforces that feeling, with an invitation to sing.
Although the album is intensely hopeful, it also captures some of the lows of life in tracks such as “You Shine Through” (which beautifully explores the way God shines brightest in our brokenness) and “From Every Wind That Blows.” The group employs language that is strongly reminiscent of old hymns while still being easily accessible to a contemporary audience: “There is a calm, there is a sure retreat / ‘tis found beneath the mercy seat.”
From the first track through the last, one of the strongest elements that makes these songs sound out is the incredibly rich vocals. The brothers’ vocals are layered and vibrant without losing a refreshing earnest quality to keep the focus on the heart of the songs. The band is unafraid of experimenting musically in their instrumentation as well. (“Come to the Fount” features a saxophone, and “Lean Not” plays with a hinted country vibe.)
The album is unusually long at 14 tracks, and provides a full hour of music, but each track is strong enough to carry the momentum through to the end. The final track, “Just Say,” is a more intimate worship song, speaking from a more personal place: “I will lay me down here at Your feet. Save me from myself and calm the raging sea. You will be my ark that floats me up above the storm. Just say, just say the word, I’ll be made whole.”
The Brothers McClurg have effectively created a project with all the reverence of hymns and all the everyday relevance of contemporary worship. The songs are framed by strong, smooth vocals, mellow guitar work, and songwriting that is powerful in its simplicity. From the quiet personal tracks and the soaring corporate anthems, the album builds an environment for meeting with and looking towards God, the source of hope.
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