Release Date: September 2nd 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Help is on the Way
- You Alone
It’s rare to find a good southern rock Christian band nowadays. Not including bands like Third Day, Rhett Walker Band, and Building 429 (I know they aren’t southern, but Jason Roy does have a southern twang in his accent), the southern bands are either country or southern gospel. Nothing wrong with either, but to wait for another incarnation of Third Day to come out of the woodwork can seem a little foolish…until now that is. Climbing Blind, a trio from Lubbock, Texas, are the latest band to find a calling to Christian music, and one that instantly reminds me of a cross between the bands Building 429 and Third Day when I started listening to their current radio single, “Help is On the Way”.
With the heart of Dusty, Zach and Tristian being to share their lives to the people they meet, in hope they can be a witness to God and an encouragement to those around them, we hear from Dusty and Zach, just how hard yet equally rewarding this journey of music really is, that ‘…giving your life over to God’s will is something that is a daily struggle and has to be a decision that is intentionally made on a consistent and continual basis…’ (Dusty), while it can be ‘…amazing to see just how faithful God really is when we pursue him whole-heartedly, especially in the times when you feel like you can’t make it any further…’ (Zach). From “Help is On the Way” to their fan favourite melody “You Alone”, this is a perfect band to listen to and enjoy if you are a fan of both Third Day (with Dusty’s vocals reminding me of Mac’s…mind you, Mac’s from way back in the day, not now) and Building 429, as well as similar artists like needtobreathe or Rhett Walker Band as well.
Immediately when you hear “Help is on the Way”, the band’s first single from the EP, it’s almost second nature to project either Mac Powell or Jason Roy into the lead vocals of the song- because that’s who Dusty sounds like (a good thing!). With the band having nods to both Building 429 and Third Day, in not only this song but throughout the rest of the EP as well, we are shown an emotive CCM-esque track about us knowing that our help is on the way, even believing it in the moments when we may not see it and thinking it’ll arrive sooner than it will.
With a powerful southern voice fit to sing CCM, country or gospel, Dusty peels back the layers of acoustic guitars, synth keyboards and the radio sheen that makes the song succeed on the airwaves and reminds us of a theme that isn’t talked about enough in Christian music- not giving up and hanging in there, because in fact, ‘…the night is always dark before the dawn, and hope is all you need to carry on…it’s not too late to run to the arms of the One who saves, He’s reaching out to pull you from the grave…’ A song that’ll hopefully catch the ear and eyes of label record producers (this song is label quality, even though the EP is produced independently), Climbing Blind are a band to stay- and one to hopefully replace (in terms of music style) either Building 429 or Third Day, or both, when both these bands move onto other endeavours.
Originally on their 2011 self-titled EP, “You Alone” is rerecorded again and placed as song three on this EP, as opposed to the album opener of their last EP. With light electric guitars and a strong drum beat, Dusty brings to light a theme that can be often overlooked in Christian songs lately- singing a song that admits we are broken and in need of a Saviour. There are many songs about how awesome God is, and that’s great, but there has sadly not been enough songs about our need to acknowledge we are broken in need of something, or someone else to come pay the debt we were meant to pay. That’s not to belittle the songs that praise God, but rather realise an honest song about real life when I hear one- and “You Alone” is indeed one of those.
With a start lyrically of Dusty declaring that ‘…broken I call on Your name, life has been lived with shame…’, we see something that’ll hopefully bring in listeners to a song that captures what it means for us to be at the total mercy of Christ’s redemption. To start a song like that shows great vulnerability and openness, a trait ought to be promoted within Christian music, and something that needs to be firmly believed and proactively acted upon in CCM songs both now and into the future. A song that is just as emotive and encouraging, maybe even more so, than “Help Is On the Way”, Climbing Blind showcase one of the most underrated performances of the year so far, and a song that’ll continually be on my iTunes playlist in months and years to come. Kudos to the band, as we are reminded that ‘…You are my strength when the battle is calling…You paid the price for a debt I couldn’t pay on my own, so I trust in You alone…’
The last two songs on the EP, “Burn” and “Grace”, can’t be any more different in every way musically- “Grace” is a piano ballad, while “Burn” echoes something that you would hear from a Third Day rock album, likening the melody to songs like “Make Your Move”, “You Make Me Mad” or “The Otherside”; yet in both these songs, Dusty shows us vulnerability and emotion that make both songs relay a similar theme- hope. “Burn” gives us his testimony, personally explaining that ‘…of all the things I’ve found there’s nothing that could really satisfy, then I had a running with a special kind of love I can’t deny…’, and is a perfect song to kick off the EP with some great rocking southern goodness, while it is “Grace” that I reckon will impact people the most, with Dusty’s powerful voice showcasing the lyrics in a much more real and honest way as we hear one of the most vulnerable songs ever sung (in my opinion) since Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Glorious Unfolding”.
As the chorus shows us Dusty’s devotion to God, even in moments of doubt and discouragement, it is in these words, knowing they were probably written through pain or hardship, that we can find comfort in the hope that carries us through. The poignant message of how ‘…I don’t want to miss one second without Your love, even if my world slips away…’ is something we all ought to strive to believe, say and act upon; knowing that out of love, we place His desires above our own. A song that’ll continually be in my iTunes playlist for a while yet, Climbing Blind ought to be commended, with “Grace”, personally, my favourite song from the EP, and one of my favourite ballads of 2014 so far.
Climbing Blind’s second EP release is one to thoroughly enjoy if you love the southern/CCM/rock genre, or even if you love independent music, or both. A band that’s almost certain to be within the Christian music industry for a long time yet, it is the eerily similar voice of Dusty’s to Mac Powell and Jason Roy that I reckon will be a contributing factor in Climbing Blind’s increase in popularity, and something that I reckon will continue to propel them into more interest and intrigue from fans into the future. My favourite EP of the year since Jordan and Kristen Rippy’s Seek You First, NF’s debut EP and Summit Worship’s The Now and the Not Yet; well done Dusty and the rest of the band for such an encouraging and poignant EP!
3 songs to listen to: You Alone, Help is On The Way, Grace
RIYL: Cloverton, Third Day, Building 429, Rhett Walker Band, needtobreathe