Release Date: July 1st 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- I’m Not Afraid
- Sing Hallelujah
- Parachute (feat. Matt Daly)
- It’s All For You
- Be Still (feat. Tricia Brock)
- Like a River
- Battleground (feat. Manafest)
- The Change (feat. Beacon Light)
- With All of My Heart
- Start Over
Originally an indie pop-rock band hailing from Sioux City, Iowa, Bread of Stone signed to DREAM Records in 2013 to re-release their chart-topping album The Real Life. Similar musically to other pop-rock artists like Building 429, Salvador, Superchick and Me in Motion; the Kristijanto brothers and co. have forged a music career deeply rooted in indie pop, and while they parted with DREAM not too long after signing (for some undisclosed reason), the band still have managed to release two more albums after The Real Life, one of them being their latest release, Hold the Light that released July 1st, 2016. Under the influence of the Kristijanto’s father, and how the brothers were encouraged to move into the realm of music, feeling that God was carrying them into that area of profession; Bread of Stone came into existence in 2004, travelling the road with a number of artists, from Newsboys to Petra and Seventh Day Slumber. While the band still has a great indie following, their presence within the Christian industry is sadly still yet to be realised, as these men continue to embark on creating great songs for listeners to hear. Each album is a manifestation of what has been happening in the lives of these band members, and in 2016, we see a thread of hope and encouragement, as the album title brings with it a myriad of themes- titled Hold the Light, the message of being a beacon of encouragement is run throughout these 10 tracks, as Christians are encouraged to ‘hold the light’ metaphorically, be the encouragement to someone who is downtrodden or even in pits of despair. God has given these men an avenue to speak into people’s lives with these 10 songs of hope, from first single “The Change”, a rock anthem that inspires us all to live out the change that we so boldly declare; to rap-rock-pop infused track “Battleground”, featuring rap artist Manafest as the song cleverly marries together the different genres to create an infectious song that’s destined to be played again and again in the months to come.
The first radio single on the album, “The Change” features indie rapper Beacon Light, as the foursome bring some of the most introspective and encouraging lyrics throughout the whole album. In a similar lyrical vein to Steven Curtis Chapman’s 1999 hit “The Change”, we are reminded that the only constant in this life is change, and that while some times changes in our lives can be welcomed, most are such that we try to resist. The song, with some unique hip-hopping skills from Beacon Light, brings to us a message of how God is there through the changes. While the song as a whole can seem a little flat sometimes, what the band has accomplished in this song is its biblical message, that ‘…it’s rising up inside my heart. This is the Love. Overcoming the dark. This is the change…’ God is the One who can navigate us through the changes of this life, and He’s also the One who can change people’s lives as well. Well done to the band for a single full of biblical truth, as “The Change” hopefully becomes an anthem for many in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.
“Parachute”, “Be Still” and “Battleground” all have the assistance of other vocalists/instrumentalists as Bread of Stone continue to welcome into the frame artists who are seasoned at their craft to come and make tracks stand out amongst the album itself, and these three aforementioned songs, alongside “The Change”, stand out indeed. With Manafest being welcomed to contribute on their previous album Not Alone, he is seen here too with a helpful hand in “Battleground”, a song about spiritual warfare, with Manafest declaring with enthusiasm and desire, to wage war against the dark spiritual forces, as Bread of Stone highlight the need for us as Christians to stand strong and firm in the truth that we believe. Heavy guitars, enthusiastic vocals and Manafest’s infectious passion alone, ought to be enough to listen to “Battleground”, and once again, a duet of some kind stands out on a 10 track album.
Re-recorded to add the cleverness of Matt Dally into the mix, “Parachute” originally was from The Real Life. With a more polished sound compared to the original, the added guitar riffs, a hip hop bridge from Superchick guitarist Matt Dally, and an overall more refined atmosphere, “Parachute” is a must listen for anyone who loves rock a la RED or Thousand Foot Krutch. “Parachute” is an encouragement like no other, as Ben Kristijanto reminds us of the presence of God, that our falls are always broken by a parachute- God. Employing the metaphor of God helping us through difficult circumstances to a parachute that protects us after we jump from high places, listeners recognise a notion of safety when it comes to Christ and the unending love He feels for His children. “Be Still” is the remaining ‘duet’ on the album, as Tricia, who was last heard on her solo 2013 album Radiate, ventures out of the wilderness to lend her vocals to a song that is based upon Psalm 46:10- Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Both Tricia and Ben bring great harmonies to a song that is quite possibly one of the most encouraging songs, lyrically, of not only the album but of 2016 thus far. We all need a reminder for us to be still, and this duet is what is needed for us to accomplish this. While I admit that any one of these 3 songs could’ve been a better 1st single instead of “The Change”, expect either “Be Still”, “Parachute” or “Battleground” to be single #2 in the near future.
Throughout the rest of the album, the band continue to break new musical boundaries as a myriad of genres are touched upon within the remainder 6 tracks. “Sing Hallelujah” utilises 80s/90s electric guitar/synth pop as the musical forefront, with Bread of Stone delivering a message of singing praises to our King, telling God’s story in the form of living out our lives with reckless abandon for Him. While at times the presence of gang vocals can seem like an over-saturation of the effects that can be detrimental to the style and flow of the song; “Sing Hallelujah” is a standout nonetheless. “I’m Not Afraid” is a pop song through and through as track #1 encourages us to speak out and declare our fearlessness in the midst of fear, to speak from our mouths the phrase ‘I’m not afraid’. Yet while at times I reckon that we could be deep down in the valley to even utter these words, the song’s message still remains true, that once we speak out our fearlessness in Christ, all fear can do is run far away, and God’s mercy will come in its place.
“It’s All For You” is a gentle acoustic ballad just shy of 3 minutes as lead singer Ben vocally channels Jon Stiengard of Hawk Nelson, with the message being that of devoting everything that is in our lives, to God. That the good, the bad, what we have and don’t, our accomplishments and failures, our talents and gifts, are all given to God, so that He can make something more beautiful and unique than we can imagine or even conceive. “Like a River” continues on the pop/AC musical atmosphere as Bread of Stone employ the theme of us being submerged in God’s river of grace, often on a daily basis, while “With All of My Heart” (no not the ZoeGirl 2001 hit) presents to us a possible radio single, with the theme being that of us giving our hearts to trust God in whatever He is planning for us both now and into the future. “Start Over” finishes the album in light acoustic pop fashion, as the band presents a song to declare to ourselves whenever we want to start over in our lives- that every sunrise is a chance for us to undergo positive change, to start over and continually be reminded of what we need to change in our lives, and to be brave enough to act upon these reminders.
While Bread of Stone won’t be the most recognisable, or even the most popular band, within the CCM industry (with more emphasis placed upon artists like MercyMe, Tenth Avenue North, Newsboys and Third Day); this album is a unique presentation full of different stylistic sounds, sort of like a prove-it piece to listeners as we are shown a band that plays music that is way different than any artist within CCM would bring. Hold the Light is interesting, refreshing and invigorating, full of musical arrangements that place this album as one of the most out-of-left-field different albums (musically!) that I’ve heard in 2016. From ballads to pop to dance, Bread of Stone is the product of many other bands and their own musical styles, like the artists I’ve aforementioned above. Fans of Superchick, Newsboys, Building 429, Salvador and Me in Motion are sure to love Bread of Stone. Full of vibrancy, dynamism and life, the message in Hold the Light is one of encouragement, as we hold the light for ourselves and others, no matter how long holding the light could take for our friends to see the passion, enthusiasm, and life-giving light we carry around in us. Kudos to the band for creating such a unique album, one that is inspiring and fun, full of moments of contemplation as well as joyous melodies of praise and worship. Well done guys for a moving and stirring album.
3 songs to listen to: Battleground, Be Still, With All Of My Heart
RIYL: Superchick, Building 429, Newsboys, Me in Motion, Salvador