Release Date: April 17th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Give Me the Rain
- Eyes Be Opened
- The Fighter
- Your Love
- A Brand New Morning
- Never Give Up on Me
‘…we are the voice for the voiceless. A cry that says our eyes need to be opened, aware of who we are, those around and for us to walk into the freedom that was brought with a price. This is the lyric and messages that Aussie band Alabaster Box has entwined into anthems that the lead singer Naarah delivers with such passion and conviction. Anthems that have seen Alabaster Box become a household name in their homeland down under…’ Shown through this quote written on Alabaster Box’s facebook about page; we see how popular this pop/rock/worship band from Australia really is. Alongside other famous artists like Nathan Tasker, Newsboys, Charmaine, Rebecca St. James, for KING AND COUNTRY and Paul Colman; Australian Christian music has thrived throughout the years.
Even with all the hiatuses of many of these aforementioned musicians (Paul Colman went from being in a trio, to solo, then part of the Newsboys, leading to a PC3 reunion of sorts and now back to solo; Rebecca St. James hasn’t been making music for a few years now, since 2011); we (as the country of Australia) have been blessed to call these artists Australian, as some of the most underrated, poignant and emotive artists are from the land down under. This is no different with Alabaster Box, a band prominent in the 2000s, and now releasing Eyes Be Opened as the band make a comeback as a duo. From the upbeat “Give Me The Rain” to the reflective/rock ballad “Lullaby” and the revealing “Candle”; Eyes Be Opened is an Australian album gem, and one of my favourite albums from an Australian artist since Paul Colman Trio’s PC3: Reunion in 2011.
The first song and first single from the album, “Give Me The Rain” beginnings with a pulsating drum and lead singer Naarah unveils possibly one of the most enjoyable songs by an Australian since Rebecca St. James’s “In a Moment”. Describing about how it is when we fall on hard times and are given ‘rain’ that we can truly see if we believe that God will come through for us in that particular circumstance (or any) or not; Alabaster Box bring us to a place where we view rain, hardship, difficulties and trouble as not a sense of abandonment, but rather, a moment where we can delve deeper into God’s presence and rely on Him to carry us through. A rock anthem at is purest and best, “Give Me The Rain” is a perfect start to an album that carries with it an indie/rock/pop quality, which what makes much of Australian music so appealing compared to the myriad of American music flooding radio in its pristine and polished formats more recently.
“Eyes Be Opened” follows along from the first track as we hear Naarah declare out that our eyes need to be awakened to whatever is in front of us- and whether it is beauty and wonder, or hardship and difficulties, our eyes need to see so we don’t live a life unaware of truth, regardless of whether it hurts us or not. A song about being released (metaphorically) from shackles that hold us down, “Eyes Be Opened” plays on the notion that we as humans are visual people, and often take in information with our eyes. The saying that ‘the eyes are the window to the soul’ is certainly true when we see the eyes of someone else- you can tell often how they are feeling by their eyes and facial expressions.
As Alabaster Box invite us to open our eyes alongside them in the gripping and powerful title track, the duo continue to deliver some great indie-pop melodies in “Candle”, “Hello”, and “The Fighter”. With each melody divulging in a myriad of themes, with “Candle” discussing about burning bright, just like one, so that people can see God’s love through us instead of being stale and unenthusiastic about our passions and the love of Christ; while “Hello” uses light electronic effects to invite us into a call-and-response scenario as Naarah questions whether God is still listening to her prayers and happenings in her own life. “The Fighter” brings the pace back to electronic indie-pop with electronic keyboards and looping beats as Alabaster Box asks God to fight on our behalf in circumstances where we need an advocate in our corner; and together with the previous aforementioned four tracks, these top 5 are some of the most enjoyable and emotive first 5 songs on any album since Passion: Take It All!
Track 6 on the album, “Your Love” is as worshipful as the album has been, with Naarah inviting us all through powerful drum beats, an ethereal vocal and light electric guitar strums that ‘…Your love, Your love, covers me…I am free…’, and while simplistic at times with its lyrical uniqueness compared to other worship songs; the song does serve the purpose of providing us with a reflective worship track that can be easily translated into a worship song to be sung in church if leaders want to. “Hide” invokes a theme of being hidden in Christ, and through strong drum beats, Naarah conveys that she’s not afraid of things in this life, because ‘…I hide in You, You’re the only one who can see me through…’; while “Lullaby”, presented in a rock/reflective way, reminds us to rest in God as He sings lullaby songs that encourage us to be peaceful and quiet, still and encouraged in His presence.
While only standing at 2:42 in length; “Lullaby” evokes moments of hope and encouragement, a theme that is still prominent and instilled in “Flame”; the 9th track that utilises the glockenspiel nicely to portray a Plumb/Fireflight-esque melody. Presenting us with a theme of us burning like a flame as we showcase God’s love in us to all people we meet; Alabaster Box end the album with “A Brand New Morning” and “Never Give Up on Me”; two short but equally poignant tracks that evoke messages of looking forward to a brand new day after difficult times as we ‘…say hello to a brand new morning…’, and presenting a piano and strings melody and incorporating a relevant message of God never giving up on us, even if and when we feel like we’re at our worst.
Australian music, particularly Australian Christian music, seems to get a difficult rapt amongst the sea of American music that has been promoted time and time again on the radio. With only a handful of artists currently thriving in the CCM music scene that had roots in Australia (Peter Furler, for KING AND COUNTRY); Alabaster Box continue to create great music, and Eyes Be Opened, though only recorded as a duo and independently, is just as poignant as if it was done with a full band and label produced. While not necessarily as ‘big’ or ‘well known’ as another prominent Australian artists, Alabaster Box nonetheless carve us a great album full of meaningful melodies and big and dynamic anthems, certainly for anyone’s iTunes playlist if you are a fan of Aussie artists like Peter Furler (and old school Newsboys), Paul Colman, Nathan Tasker or Rebecca St. James.
3 songs to listen to: Give Me The Rain, Your Love, Candle
RIYL: Rebecca St. James, Paul Colman Trio, Newsboys (old school), Charmaine, Nathan Tasker