VSR Music Group
Release Date: August 19th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Break My Heart
- You Awaken
- Heaven’s Gate
- Holy Fire
- Choir Of Angels
“…The reality is simple. Love has a source. God Himself IS LOVE. God doesn’t just have love He encompasses love, and we were created to receive and share His love. If we are ever going to truly love we must first be loved. The Bible says we love God because He first loved us. The love we so desperately need to receive and share starts and ends with God…” Hailing from Bose, Idaho, Christian worship band Esterlyn, signed to VSR Music Group, releases their anticipated new album/EP to stores this coming week, called Love (what do you call a release with 7 songs?). Musically similar to artists like The City Harmonic and The Royal Royal; the band previously releases Woven and Call Out in 2012 and 2010 respectively, with their pop/acoustic/worship sound aligning with their hearts for Jesus, for the poor and for adoption- the band was named after lead singer Luke Caldwell’s adopted niece from China. While they’re not that high on the radar of pop/CCM lovers (releasing their album in direct ‘competition’ with Colton Dixon, Lindsay McCaul, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Lincoln Brewster and Selah may backfire…), as it’s not that high of a profile label, and frankly, people would flock to see Chris Tomlin or Crowder sing rather than this ‘new-ish’ band on an indie label; personally I think that this batch of 7 honest, personal and inspiring songs, though rough around the edges, and not that polished; is real, and deserving of a listen as we soak in the presence of God and sing along with the band.
With a 30 second synth driven slow instrumental piece (“Alms”) as the opener, the album moves into “Break My Heart”, with a concept similar to Jonny Diaz’s song of the same name. driven by pulsating drums, stirring keys and vibrant acoustic guitar strings, Luke’s piercing and passionate vocals shine through as he prays to God to ‘…break my heart and give me Yours…’. As the song also delves into the topic of Jesus setting captives free and healing the sick; convictions are stirred up and we are posed with the question of why we believe what we believe. Confronting yet reassuring, Esterlyn have thematically hit the hammer on the nail, even though musically the song isn’t the catchiest of their discography. The title track follows, and the lead single, which sounds musically like alternative pop/rock. Lyrically it is about the far reaching and universal quality of love that transcends all boundaries. In particular, Luke mentions God’s love that ‘…Your love is never gonna let us down, with love, nothing can stop us now…’, across the mid tempo guitars and synth in this catchy ballad. A stand out on the album, the rest of the album shows us a bit more of the band’s worship side.
The most upbeat and worshipful of this bunch, “You Awaken” is led by the keys, and could easily be sung in a Hillsong United or Young and Free setting. In fact, I think Esterlyn would enjoy playing this song live at concerts! As the band reiterate that Jesus awakens us and that He is the One who sets us free from bondage, and that He opens our eyes to the reality of who He is; the celebratory mood doesn’t waver, and why would it? Esterlyn have given us a gem of a song, that really grows on you, that really sums up the heart of the band and the album. “Heaven’s Gate” is another instrumental piece, this time at 2 minutes. Also driven by earthy synth and keys, giving the atmosphere of a movie soundtrack, I am wowed once again (although a crescendo to an epic finish would have been nice), as the band continue to create out of the box melodies that stretch out imagination and thinking.
The final two songs are “Holy Fire” and “Choir Of Angels”. With “Holy Fire” sounding like a alternative/rock melody, with remix-y electronic effects, Luke places on his Royal Royal and Starfield hat vocally, and worships God, praying to Him, asking Him to send revival. The chorus is moving and inspiring as we sing out ‘…fill us with Holy Fire, Jesus we need Your power, move like a mighty wind, we are awakening… Jesus You’re our desire, breathe in us life again…’– a proclamation that is sure to be on the lips of everyone at church in the near future. No doubt a fresh wave of revival is coming, and it’s evident that this song will speed along the process. “Choir Of Angels” on the other hand, finishes the album off on an experimental note musically, as it includes light piano, ethereal music and maybe glockenspiel. Lyrically, it’s a straight up worship song to God, as Luke vividly tells God of his unending qualities though simple lyrics as well as metaphors and imagery. A great way to end an album from a pretty underrated band, this album is sure to gain spins on my iTunes (maybe not in the same frequency as other popular bands).
“…these songs are my heart’s cry for more of God’s love in my life. I don’t need religion or programs. I need love. It amazes me that God’s love is completely based upon who He is and what He has done. My sincere prayer is that this album would reminds us what is truly important in this life – LOVE…” Though not as flashy or radio friendly as other artists releasing albums this year, the fact is that as time progresses Esterlyn is sure to grow musically, and future albums may even be popular than the artists signed to Capitol CMG, Provident Label Group or Word Label Group. Love was indeed made out of love, and it’s clear that the band put their heart and soul into these songs. Though I would have loved for the album to be longer in duration, what I heard whetted my appetite and made me wanting more. Hopefully others will agree, and be moved to listen to or buy Esterlyn’s music. One thing is for sure though- I will certainly recommend this group to my friends, no doubt about it. Well done Esterlyn for a compelling and moving album with many layers to still be explored!
3 songs to listen to: Love, You Awaken, Holy Fire
RIYL: Shawn McDonald, Leeland, The Royal Royal, The City Harmonic