Sidewalk Prophets – Something Different

Fervent Records

Release Date: August 28th 2015

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Sidewalk Prophets– Something Different (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Prodigal (3:26)
  2. If You Only Knew (3:55)
  3. Something Different (3:43)
  4. Everything In Awe (4:07)
  5. To Live Is Christ (3:48)
  6. Sisters & Brothers (3:28)
  7. Impossible (3:36)
  8. Come To the Table (4:38)
  9. Ain’t Nobody (Till You’re Loved) (3:55)
  10. I’d Rather Have You (2:52) **Deluxe Edition Bonus Track
  11. Go For It (3:58) **Deluxe Edition Bonus Track
  12. Soldier On (5:23)
  13. Homeless Heart (4:55)
  14. Closer (feat. Tamela Mann) (10:11)
  15. Prodigal (The Family Room Sessions) (3:36) **Deluxe Edition Bonus Track
  16. Come To the Table (The Family Room Sessions) (4:33) **Deluxe Edition Bonus Track

Having previously unveiled their much anticipated sophomore album Live Like That in 2012, Sidewalk Prophets (Dave, Ben, Cal, Justin and Daniel are back with their brand new project Something Different and the music and themes are pretty much similar to what we expected on their previous albums, however there is indeed something different overall about the album, definitely in a good way! Live Like That held a special place in my heart when it released, as a picture of myself was one of 300 that were chosen by the band to be included on the album cover, reflecting the theme of the album of living like Christ, and the 12 songs present on the album were quite impacting and captivating also. So these 5 friends from Nashville have quite a lot to live up to lyrically and musically, yet with their third release, lead singer Dave Frey and co. have created a gem of an album, probably even more enjoyable than the previous album. After spinning this 70 minute album over many times, I can say that these 5 guys from Nashville are many more years wiser and mature, and as a result, their music speaks more volumes, and I’d gladly listen to this album countless more times in the future. So let’s dive in and see what makes Something Different … well, something different!

Opening the album with the heartfelt and guitar prominent first single “Prodigal”, we are immersed into a modern day retelling of the parable of the prodigal son. With pulsating drum beats and a rockier edge, Dave vividly describes a situation where someone has fallen away from God for whatever reason, and also gives hope and encouragement in the chorus, that God will accept us even if we stumble and fall. If we run to Him, He will catch us- in fact God is the One doing the running as well, and is active in His pursuit of us, and if we only just catch onto that and believe that, then we can experience true freedom as well. As the band emphatically proclaim that ‘…wherever you are, whatever you did, it’s a page in your book, but it isn’t the end, your Father will meet you with arms open wide, this is where your heart belongs…’, the album opener packs a punch, and is clearly one of the more musically different singles the band has had over the years. Well done guys for one of the most compelling singles of the band since “The Words I Would Say”!

“If You Only Knew” follows, and on the surface sounds like any other CCM song, with inspiring and thoughtful lyrics sung against a piano and guitar pop backdrop. Yet a look deeper shows a more mature side of the band, as there seems to be a call and response element to the track, with God singing parts of the verses and the chorus, and us singing the verses. With the verses rooted in doubt, with the personal relaying that ‘…I’m not sure that I can handle all this on my own, I’m not sure that I can just give in and let go…’, Dave turns this song from a mellow one to brimming with life and hope. As the chorus says that ‘…if you only knew that I am with you every moment, if you only knew you will never be alone, if you only knew all the plans that I have for You, and the way that I adore You, don’t you know that you’re My own…’, such a revelation from God would be life changing, and a perspective like that is something this band is advocating that we all have, that we fully know that God is with us and loves us. The title track is next, and is one of the many songs present that features the band expanding their genre. Driven by bass and reminding me of an 80’s or 90’s jazz and rock song infusion, the band sum up my sentiments of the song perfectly, as the conclude that ‘…there’s something different, something different, and I gotta have it, I can’t describe it, can’t describe it, but I know that I need it, I don’t know what it is, but I need a dose of it…’. This new version of Sidewalk Prophets is much welcomed, using this ‘vagueness’ to sing about their music style and the presence of Jesus in our lives, and if the band record an entire album like this song, I wouldn’t be opposed to that change at all!

The middle tracks are where the band seemingly fall back into their usual CCM/pop sensibilities (much to the disappointment of some fans, but not myself!), and what they know best, yet each track shows the band at their best, with the lyrics highlighting a superb album; their best yet! The acoustic guitar led “Everything In Awe” is littered with metaphors and poetry, with the band asserting that even creation worships God and is in awe of Him, and is more or less a worship song. What is unusual here is that the chorus only starts when the song if halfway through, and the full band build up is only in the last 30 seconds, however this structure works here, with the soft intimate melody being fitting considering the subject matter of being in awe of Jesus. The promotional single “To Live Is Christ”, a piano and synth led ballad, is based on Philippians 1:21, and could easily be the band’s next single, and featured on the next WOW Hits album. As the band sing about living wholeheartedly for Christ, we should remember that dying to everything else in this world is what we ought to do as Christians.

“Sisters And Brothers” and “Impossible” round out the first half of the album, with the former being a celebratory upbeat folk like melody about the body of Christ, and the importance that ‘…we are, we are, we are, together with one heart, sisters and brothers needing each other…’, inspired by 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, that we are all needed as Christians for the church to function; and the latter being a somewhat repetitive yet catchy song about God doing the impossible, that ‘…breath of God You bring life from death, with Your word all of time began…’, and us remembering the promises He has reminded us about so many times in the word. And as the brilliance of the first half ends, the second half starts and I am transfixed and moved once again by the smorgasbord of genres and myriad of themes explored.

The inspiring mid-tempo ballad “Come To The Table” is essentially an invitation for everyone to accept the free gift of salvation that Christ is offering to us, as Dave authoritatively expresses for everyone to ‘…come to the table, come join the sinners who have been redeemed, take your place beside the Savior, sit down and be set free…’, amongst the keys, guitar and mesmerising drums. While songs like “You Ain’t Nobody Till You’re Loved” and “I’d Rather Have You” are beautiful and fitting depictions of the band having fun, with the former being an acoustic guitar and ukulele driven tune about having love in your heart, and loving others the way that Jesus did; and the latter being a throwback to the 80’s and 90’s as the rock’n’roll melody inspires us that God will be with us til the end while everything else fades. As Dave ardently reminds us that he’s rather have a real relationship with Jesus that fake relationships with everything else, we come to realise just how deep the band’s love for Jesus actually is. One of the most out-of-the-box melodies I have heard for a while, “I’d Rather Have You” musically reminds me of “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us”, and demands many more listens!

The quirky and fun acoustic guitar led pop song “Go For It” isn’t really a Christian song per se, but it’s super catchy and easy to listen to, as the band encourage us to chase our dreams and give 100% in everything that we do. As the band outline that we should ‘…go for it, go for it, cause there’s no way to rewind, time to lay it all on the line, don’t give up, don’t ever give in…eyes on the prize, no turning around…’, they provide us with analogies of baseball and a marathon, which is unusual but fitting as well. “Soldier On” and “Homeless Heart” are also personal highlights. While “Soldier On”, with plenty of army and military imagery, has an incredibly long intro, the song is still strong, as this guitar led mid-tempo melody where the band encourage us to soldier on, and fight the good fight, as we know that Jesus is with us fighting our battles for us, so we will win in the end even though we may not believe it at this point in time. Thematically “Homeless Heart” is vastly different to its predecessor, as well as musically, as David sings about his ‘homeless heart’, and us repeatedly trying to find our way home to Jesus, in reference to the prodigal son as well. Certain to inspire us and provoke questions for everyone as to where our true home is; these explosive tracks pale in comparison to the album closer.

Featuring gospel artist Tamela Mann on vocals, “Closer” is my absolute favourite song on the album, and one listen isn’t hard to figure out why. The band sings the melody out of their genre once again, this time beautifully and wonderfully creating a gospel and blues track, one that we could expect from artists like newworldson, Unspoken, Jimmy Needham or Chris August. Heavily influenced by the piano, Dave prays a simple yet effective prayer, as evident in the chorus, asking God to ‘…take me to the centre of the fire, take me to the middle of the sea, take me through the darkest of nights, You can be the lamp to my feet, walk me over mountains and valleys, till I’m hanging by a prayer, if it brings me closer, close, You can take me anywhere…’. Gritty, powerful and vulnerable, this song is something to be heard to be believed. So let’s just stop there, and you can listen to the album, and let me know how you’re impacted by this album ender! Sound good? Awesome! The deluxe edition album features acoustic versions of “Prodigal” and “Come to The Table”, and they’re nice additions to what is Sidewalk Prophets’ crowning achievement thus far!

On the back of their successful radio friendly sophomore album which garnered them numerous Dove Award nominations, Sidewalk Prophets and producer Seth Mosley have crafted an album with most songs fit for the radio and littered with biblical truths. Some would say that the band is playing it safe and not pushing the envelope musically or lyrically by including many potential pop radio singles, but what I think is that Sidewalk Prophets have found their niche market, their style of music they feel that God is wanting them to pursue. It doesn’t hurt that a few songs, the title track, first and last song, and a few other in between, and musically from left field as well! Dave, Ben, Cal, Justin and Daniel have written and performed above and beyond what is expected. With many songs I’d gladly listen to over and over, I would happily await the third album. Well done guys, you deserve all the praise!

5 songs to listen to: Prodigal, Sisters And Brothers, Come To The Table, Soldier On, Closer

Score: 4/5

RIYL: The Afters, Sanctus Real, Building 429, Big Daddy Weave

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