A Study in Connecting with the Christian Music Fan
Posted January 12, 2015
By JJFrancesco_NRT, Staff Reviewer
I can only imagine the "we are I Am They" fun the band can have at concerts. But the band actually took the name from the Bible. Jesus regularly referred to his apostles collectively as "they," and the band seeks to remind us to "be the 'they' that Jesus referred to." With that in mind, the name becomes a little more intriguing. But what does the music sound like?
Name aside, this act promises to give the CCM crowd a healthy dose of all of its favorite goodies. The album features even a little country flare, as demonstrated in the peppy opener "We Are Yours" and later on "King of Love." The latter is a hook-laden romp that will get you singing, moving along and spiritually enriched all at the same time.
Soft piano moments are another must for modern CCM. The chorus of "We Are Yours" does this well, but "Over & Over Again" is the best example of a song that pulls this off throughout most of the song. And soft guitar driven ballads? Oh yes, even those, such as "Even Me," are here.
I Am They has all your staples covered. There's even a bit of a Rend Collective vibe in lead single "From The Day" with gang choruses, a catchy guitar campfire beat, and the overall "big yet little" feel to the production. There are also a lot of guy/girl duets among the vocals, a feature that is always an appealing draw to acts in either pop/rock or contemporary circles.
Closing track "Amen" brings in a super finale with yet another standard solid draw, strings. The strings add a nice emotional layer to the pleading prayer. The song itself feels the most complete of the bunch, both musically and lyrically, and is definitely an appropriate and prayerful grand finale to this debut. The opening to the song, "I have no words to say / don't know what I should pray / God I need you. / O Lord My faith is tired / and tears fill up my eyes / but I will trust you / whatever comes my way / you have taught me to say 'amen'" demonstrates why this song serves as the most honest and vulnerable place on the album. It transcends the framework of vague corporate worship to be something greater and deeper.
One of the biggest areas in which the band has room to grow as they continue to develop is the lyrics. While everything is good, solid, vertical worship, there's a little too much reliance on common buzz phrases in worship music. This somewhat inhibits the heartfelt factor that good CCM needs. Given another album, this would be easy enough to correct, and the group displays the musical and vocal chops to carry stronger lyrics in the future.
I Am They has followed a recipe for success and should connect well with the CCM crowd. Their pleasant and intimate approach to the songs, solid vocal delivery, and peppy musical personality shines through and offers a promising future. While lyrical depth is an area to work on, songs like "Amen" do provide proof that the ability is there. How high they will climb is still in the "wait and see" phase, but there’s every reason to get excited about what I Am They can do in the future.
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