Residence Music / Centricity Music
Release Date: February 5th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Apollo LTD – Nothing is Ordinary. Everything is Beautiful (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Tears to Diamonds
- Good Day (feat. Social Club Misfits)
- Solider On
- Just What I Needed
- Sunday Morning Feeling (feat. Ryan Stevenson)
- Heart Believes
- No Limit
‘…I grew up in a space family. My uncle was an astronaut in the 1990s. Being a ’90s kid, it was a pretty cool experience. I grew up being fascinated by space and space history, and I went to space launches. We always thought Apollo would be a super cool name for a band, mainly named after the Apollo Space Program, of course. It was a good name because of our culture and the country at the time. Because like John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Once we finally formed a band, we called it Apollo. But, we had a lawyer who said, “There’s no way I can protect that.” (It’s the lawyer thing). He said, “I don’t care if you have three letters before it or three letters after it, but you can’t just use Apollo.” So, we went with Apollo LTD. It was the first name that we could come up with that sounded decent…’ Apollo LTD, a relatively new band from a few years ago, signed to Centricity Music not too long ago. Sharing the artist roster with fellow label-mates Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Chris Renzema, Jonny Diaz, Jordan Feliz, Lauren Daigle and PEABOD, to name a few; Jordan Phillips and Adam Stark, the duo who make up Apollo LTD, deliver a mood and vibe, a vocal delivery, and an overall presence, like that of CCM rock band Abandon, down to the vocal delivery of Apollo LTD reminding me so much like Josh Engler of Abandon that it’s certainly not funny. Even when I heard ‘Gold’ a few years back, I literally thought it was Abandon, till I checked who it was and found it was different. Nevertheless, Apollo LTD burst into the scene with their label-backed debut project Out of Body in 2019, where you can see the review of it here on the site. Now a couple or so years on; we see the band invite us into the space of 14 new songs, in this music collection called Nothing is Ordinary. Everything is Beautiful, written and recorded solely during the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide lockdown from March 2020 onward. With both Jordan and Adam being very popular within the mainstream media arena- as we see that the band have shared the stage with high-profile artists like Panic At The Disco, All American Rejects, Ke$ha, Andy Grammar, John Mayer, and DNCE; the band has also had their music placed in various TV shows and movies, from the trailer for the Comedy Central TV show The Other Two, to music placed in episodes of Greys Anatomy and Station 19. Despite all the media attention on Apollo LTD, both these men have a strong sense of a Christian faith- Out of Body presents to us songs like ‘Gold’, ‘On the Way Up’ and ‘Always You’ that all alluded to God being the centre of life. With the release of Nothing is Ordinary. Everything is Beautiful this last week (Friday 5th February), Apollo LTD continue to present faith-based music that has a catchy demeanour that can also thrive and challenge the mainstream music space, similar to how artists like Switchfoot, Needtobreathe, Skillet, Relient K and Mat Kearney walk their own music careers. A must-have album to download/buy/stream if you’re a fan of 2019’s Out of Body, or even artists like Abandon and for KING AND COUNTRY; Apollo LTD presents to us one of the most cohesive pop albums I’ve heard (in both mainstream and CCM) since Guy Sebastian’s T.R.U.T.H. in October 2020.
‘…most songs on the new record were written during the pandemic. We were supposed to be on tour all year, but, instead, we quickly found ourselves at home. Creating music was the only thing that gave us a sense of normalcy. So, much of the album was birthed from our stay-at-home time during the ongoing pandemic. The mentality and the message are about finding silver linings in life—even when it gets hard and difficult. It’s about choosing to shift your perspective and find positivity and the good that’s in any situation. Many of the album’s songs have this unrelenting sense of hope. That’s what we felt we wanted to say. We felt like we needed to convey to other people the message of hope…’ The first single from Nothing is Ordinary. Everything is Beautiful back in March 2020, ‘You’ debuted during what was the start of the pandemic; and is a song as much about being sure about your identity, as it is about encouraging someone else, a mate or a significant other, especially during this time of life where COVID-19 is a reality, alongside the understanding that God knows and loves us as we are. Catchy and pop-infused, this looping percussion-driven song with gang vocals and an easy-to-know beat, shows Jordan and Adam reminding us all to ‘…don’t give up, don’t give up, He’s not given up on you, not given up on you…’, as we are given comfort that God never gives up on us, even if we believe that He does, because we can’t see Him acting in our lives at this very moment. While there isn’t explicit reference to Jesus in the song ‘You’, maybe that was the way that Jordan and Adam wanted it, as this band has been making waves in both CCM and mainstream concurrently, and in this way, someone can come across such a song as this, who may not have heard songs about Jesus, and still be intrigued by it. A song that still has its impact, even a year later from it’s release, ‘You’ forms the backbone, lyrically and musically, of Nothing is Ordinary. Everything is Beautiful; and is not only one of my favourite songs on the album but one of my favourite Apollo LTD songs ever, on the same level as songs like ‘Gold’ and ‘On the Way Up’.
‘NOW!’, ‘Patient’, ‘Rulers’, ‘Better’ and ‘Good Day’ are the other songs that were unveiled before Nothing is Ordinary. Everything is Beautiful dropped digitally on February 5th, 2021; and with these songs being released at various points throughout 2020/21, we see Jordan and Adam present themes relevant to this time period of COVID-19, and where we are as a society and as the world we’re in at the moment. ‘Patient’ is perhaps one of my favourite songs on the album alongside ‘You’, as it is confronting and comforting simultaneously. With both Jordan and Adam eloquently reminding us that even in our happenings in life, we can as the Lord to ‘…help me to be okay with what I can’t change, and remind me there’s meaning in the waiting Help me to be patient…’, it is when we reconcile the fact of what we know in the Bible, that God is faithful and never changes, and is always with us, to what we see around us, and believing that God never changes, even if circumstances try to show us otherwise. Radio friendly to the max, I can almost guarantee that ‘Patient’ will be a radio single in the future, I can definitely see it. Heavy with synth and looping percussion, ‘Rulers’ for me doesn’t really live up to songs like ‘Patient’ and ‘You’, nevertheless, it is still a song that is solid and confronting. Apollo LTD show us through this track that we were made to take back control of our lives, and to not roll through life being spectators, to take more of an active role in how we live our lives, instead of just floating from day to day. If we want to go out and chase something, it is in our best interest to take this leap, that as this song suggests, ‘…destiny was made for ya, all you ever known, stepping up to the throne, we were made to be rulers…’
‘NOW!’, a poppy 3 minute tune released as a digital single almost immediately after ‘You’ way back in last year, both Jordan and Adam encourage us to all live in the moment and to slow down in our busy schedules- the moment where we’re supposed to be present in will definitely pass us by if we decide to pack a lot into our day and be busier than we need to be. I know that to balance how much things to fit in your day, can be a bit of an art, and thus, we need to be present in the moment and to just take in the experience, which is now, before we realise that our lives are passing us by, and we aren’t even fully aware of it. ‘Better’ brings the musical content down to just a light electric guitar strum and looping percussion, as the band present a mid-tempo ballad, essentially a prayer where we ask the Lord about the assurance that we all need, to know that ‘…it’s getting better, a little light so I can see, say the words so I remember, say it loud so I believe, I need a little hope for the hell in my head, to get me through the storm, ‘cause it ain’t done yet I need it more than ever I need to know it’s not forever…’; while ‘Good Day’, the last remaining track unveiled prior to February 5th, features a collaboration with hip-hop duo Social Club Misfits, and speaks about this theme about our days being good, regardless of what is happening, because we know the One who transforms all of our days, good and bad, for our good and and His glory, and thus, all we need to declare is that ‘…I can’t control what people say, so I’ma sit back and enjoy the ride…’
Throughout the rest of the album, we see jovial and buoyant themes of hope and unending love, be present in each of these songs. ‘Tears to Diamonds’ has a retro 80s feeling that is all things good and right, cast underneath the emotive and compelling lyrics of how the band (and us as a result) can often feel like ‘…far too long, all these years I didn’t know that I was sleeping, yeah I was sleeping, then I woke up to a thousand stars cast across the ceiling, yeah I woke up, I’ve bought the lies for so long that now they feel like mine, and everything I wanted in this life was standing in front me this whole time, my heart knows how to feel, love echoes in the silence, my eyes know how to heal, turning tears into diamonds…’; while ‘Soldier On’ is a declaratory statement of fighting on, knowing full well that though there’s ‘…giants in my way and they stand so tall, but You make me brave, and I watch them fall, see the arrows fly, but they can’t touch me, cause You’re on my side, You’re my victory…’ It is a song of assurance as we know who is for us, and gives us motivation and hope to soldier on, even in the direst of circumstances. ‘Sunday Morning Feeling’ features pop-R&B artist Ryan Stevenson on this track, one that is very similar musically to that of someone like TobyMac or even mainstream legend Justin Timberlake, as the song is presented as a toe-tapping pop diddy, that reminds us all that the feeling that we get on a Sunday morning at church, should be immersed in every aspect of every day in our lives, that how we live on the Sunday should be how we live in our whole life.
‘Heart Believes’ is a declaratory worshipful moment, and is a direct way of how to show us all, to live by faith and not by sight, that even if we cannot see what is going to happen in the future, in our lives and others, we stand firm in our faith, because our heart believes, and that we trust even though the physical may show us something different to what the promises of God has shown us to believe into. The band also present to us the themes of reverence, awe and introspective faith in ‘No Limits’, a song that praises the fact that God’s love has no limits, that His infinite and boundless love washes over someone like me, while the album ender ‘Rising’ proclaims us all rising from every circumstance, stronger than before, that what I have experienced will allow the Lord to shape and mould us into a people more resilient and empathetic to other people going through circumstances and situations. But it is the pop song ‘Just What I Needed’ that shows us the vulnerability of someone who is searching and looking for something or someone to fill a hole that they can’t fill. A song about searching for the remedy to what we have been feeling all this time, when we’re without Christ; ‘Just What I Needed’ is a reminder that there are people around where we are, that are filling themselves with things that they believe can satisfy, when all the while, they’re searching for something that only Jesus can fill. And thus, as we present the gospel, we lead with love. We state it simply- that Christ came to give life abundantly, sending His Son to die on a cross to pay the penalty of sin meant to be for us, dying the death we deserved, and then 3 days later, rising, overcoming the very thing that separates us from God in the first place.
‘…Originally back in late 2018, “Gold” encouraged me to remember that Jesus makes everything around shine brighter; and has also encouraged me to check out the rest of Apollo LTD’s discography. Now that Out Of Body has released as well as the new singles “Better”, “Patient”, “You”, “NOW!” and “Rulers”, these songs have further cemented my positive stance on the band, and I’m definitely a fan of these guys for sure. While only time will tell what kind of songs Apollo LTD record next on their full length second album (slated for release in early 2021- and I’m hoping all five of these singles will make the list!); I am very intrigued and quietly excited, and will definitely check out the rest of their discography. So what are you waiting for guys? These guys have your anthems for the whole of 2020 sorted, even if you don’t believe in Jesus yet! So let’s get started, and let us all remember that we can know that there will be better days ahead, because we know that our God is always with us and will never leave us! …’ This above quote is what my brother wrote, as an ending to his Better EP review, and what better way to end Nothing is Ordinary. Everything is Beautiful in the exact same fashion. This album from Apollo Ltd has surprised me in all the right ways, and now, instead of the band being what I assumed was going to be Abandon 2.0, is now a formidable duo that has their feet planted in both CCM and mainstream, for good reasons too. This is a band that is destined to go far, and if they continue to make more music like this in the upcoming years ahead, then this band can potentially have the success that other artists like for KING AND COUNTRY and needtobreathe have had in years gone by. Well done Jordan and Adam for this collection of relatable songs, that challenge us in a wide variety of ways as we live this life with people who may not necessarily see the world as we do. Looking forward to whatever the Lord has in store, in the upcoming months and years ahead!
3 songs to listen to: You, Patient, Heart Believes
RIYL: Abandon, for KING AND COUNTRY, Coldplay, Goo Goo Dolls, Train