Release Date: July 29th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Washed Over Me
- In Your Reach
- New Man
- I Won’t Back Down
Releasing their debut self-titled album in 2013, with hits like “New Man”, “Washed Over Me”, “In Your Reach”, “Keep Me On My Knees”, the Florida quartet of All Things New have unveiled their new project titled The Attic Sessions recently. In April, when I heard the contemporary pop/rock guitar driven debut album on BEC Recordings (which is produced by renowned song-writer Jason Ingram), quite a few tracks resonated with me, such as “New Man”, the vulnerable, honest song about God creating beauty from ashes, and “Washed Over Me”, a rowdy and upbeat proclamation that the blood of Jesus washes us clean; and this next batch of songs also impress me greatly. With the band name rooted around the scripture of 2 Corinthians 5:17, these four young men of God (only in their early 20’s), have continued along their country/bluegrass/contemporary pop sound, and have created an EP worthy of recommendation overall. Though not perfect, these 4 tracks exhibit something mature beyond their years in the band, just like the first album.
Opening with “Washed Over Me”; a joyous celebration, with the optimistic and bubbly toe-tapper and country-inspired acoustic piece reminding me of Needtobreathe and Third Day’s style; it’s evident that the song doesn’t change that much- in fact the aggressive acoustics and the presence of harmonics, hand claps, and a boisterous yet passionate crowd, keeps things more interesting, as well as searing and mesmerising gang vocals- in fact I love this version a thousand times more than the original version. As lead singer Garrett Hornbuckle proclaims that the blood of Jesus washed him clean and that ‘…like water, You poured out, Your grace covered me…’, he vividly describes the lengths Jesus would go to keep us close to Him- dying on the cross for each of us personally is the greatest sacrifice; a fact that should blow our minds and overwhelm us immensely. This pop/southern rock anthem presents us poignant truths that God’s love is unlike any other, and carries onto the remaining songs.
“In Your Reach”, which was influenced by drummer Luke Wycuff’s suicide attempt, and the beautiful redemption story that God orchestrated afterwards, was originally a fast paced folk/country tune, however this version is slowed down in tempo, creating an intimate, emotional and personal atmosphere. Banjos and hand claps are traded for drawn out acoustic guitar driven strums, and whistles, with Garrett once again showing us his brilliant vocal abilities, encouraging us that we are never too far gone for God to accept and love us. Even if we think we are worthless, we are always in God’s reach, as ‘…nothing’s gonna hold me, nothing’s gonna hold me down, cause I know Your hands are gonna pull me, hands are gonna pull me out…’; and this rendition is enhanced greatly by the ‘campfire’ setting with friends. “New Man” though, the lead single based on Garrett’s tumultuous and strained relationships with his father and stepfather, and the ultimate healing that arose, is the low point on the album musically- stripped bare and sung with just an acoustic guitar, and not that inventive, engaging nor creative. Though the lyrics are meaningful and poignant, with the message of the track that God makes broken things new and nothing is unfixable, is sure to encourage many, musically the song fell flat, despite the good intentions and timeless lyrics that show us that in every situation there is hope and redemption, and that’s the beauty of grace.
The last song, the Johnny Cash cover “I Won’t Back Down”, is professionally recorded and competently sung, and though the band have tried with all their might, the songs feels forced, rushed, and definitely not recorded in an attic, which was the point of this project. Lyrically, we’re not sure if we are singing to a loved one who doesn’t know Jesus, or a fellow sibling in Jesus Christ, and it is that tension, that dichotomy, and that ambiguity that the honest lyrics portray, that has me scratching my head. It’s great production wise, with electric guitars and bass abound, yet for me this last song is missing substance, and as a closer leaves much to be desired, sorry to say.
All in all, this EP is a mixed bag, yet I would still recommend the album if you are an All Things New fan! For fans of contemporary pop and rock, with the introduction of different instruments such as the ukulele and the banjo, All Things New have shown variety and risks on this release, even if they don’t pay off. It’s clear that the band are here to stay, and more so clear that their sophomore album coming either at the end of 2014 or in 2015, is sure to refine and maybe redefine their current sound, from pop to more country/acoustic/folk, which is a great thing in my opinion. So, for those who are not sold yet on these four guys’ music, I would suggest you buy The Attic Sessions or even the self-titled debut- even if there are songs you don’t like as much (like myself), as I am positive that your new favourite song of 2014 could be in this release if you look hard enough… Well done guys, bring on full album #2!
3 songs to listen to: Washed Over Me, In Your Reach, I Won’t Back Down
RIYL: The Museum, Sanctus Real, The Afters, Building 429