Release Date: March 25th 2016
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Lean On Me
- Thorns And Sorrows
- He Waits For Me
- Learning To Love
- Follow Your Heart
- Moving On
- Walk Through The Fire
- Hold The Rain
- You And Me
- Giving Over
Just like bands for KING & COUNTRY, About A Mile and Red Roots, there’s a new Christian band comprised completely of siblings! With that, let me introduce you all to Consumed By Fire are the newest signing to Inpop Records, with their music very similar stylistically to needtobreathe and Rhett Walker Band. Releasing their debut EP Lean On Me last year in November, the trio, comprising of Josh, Jordan and Caleb Ward, are set to unveil their full length album Giving Over to stores this coming week. Releasing on the same day as Austin And Lindsey Adamec’s debut self-titled worship EP, Consumed By Fire impart to us and display in full force a myriad of genres, inclusive of rock, gospel, soul, pop and jazz. While the smorgasbord of instruments and their musical creativity and uniqueness; as well as their passionate heart for Jesus, have definitely sparked my interest in this pop/rock/worship trio with a bright future ahead of them; let’s dive in and see how this album stacks up to the rest of our favourite albums of the year so far, so that you all can be informed about whether this album resonates with you or not!
Opening the track list is the powerful and emphatic first single “Lean On Me”, driven by catchy whistling, hand claps and captivating keys, as Caleb fervently and powerfully declares that we can rely and depend on Jesus when circumstances and situations around us are falling apart. Though the song could also be about how we as brothers and sisters in Christ can be the hands and feet of Jesus for those around us, and thus others can lean on us. As Caleb ardently mentions that ‘…when you don’t have the words to explain the hurt, you can lean on me when the bullets start flying, lean on me when you’re fighting for surviving, lean on me when you don’t have a home…’, we are reassured that God is with us, fighting our battles for us, so that we do not have to, and that we can rest in Him. What a comforting worship anthem that brilliantly shows us what the band is all about.
Apart from “Lean On Me”, there are three other songs we all might have heard before, having previously been included on the band’s EP last year, as well as 7 brand new songs and recordings. “Walk Through The Fire” was the band’s first promotional single, released in early 2015, and is a piano and acoustic guitar mid-tempo ballad, previously on the Four Blood Moons Soundtrack. As Caleb channels his Seabird voice, he reiterates the fact that God stays constant throughout all time, even when everything around us is crashing down, outlining to us that ‘…when it all goes away, You’ll still be here, when it all goes up in flames, You’ll still be here so I’m not afraid to walk through the fire with You…’, providing us with comfort, hope and peace that God always has our best interests at heart.
While the country inspired guitar led ballad “Follow Your Heart”, is one of my favourite melodies on the album, where the trio earnestly and honesty impart to us that we ought to follow our hearts and chase our dreams- the ones that God has placed on our hearts; it is the last remaining familiar song, that really tugs at my heart. The in-your-face mid-tempo electronic and keys prominent pop/rock tune “You And Me” delves into the concept of holding onto grudges, and the simplicity and freeing ability of forgiveness, in the story of the persona singing to the person who’s done them wrong, implying that they forgive them now. Caleb, Josh and Jordan all reiterate that with God we can do anything, including forgive, so why not start now? With “You And Me” assuring us that relationships can be fixed with a simple ‘I forgive You’, Consumed By Fire have brilliantly reminded us to take a deeper look at our own relationships and whether there are any in our lives that need fixing.
While it’s clear to see why these four songs were chosen for an EP (I personally reckon the themes and vocals on these four songs to be much more musically diverse than the newer tracks!), that’s not to say the rest of the album isn’t enjoyable, and has no awesome moments- in fact the band of brothers cover some weighty topics in the other 7 melodies, as we are reminded of the love of Jesus and the impact it should have on our lives. “Thorns And Sorrows”, an acoustic guitar led country influenced ballad, is a hopeful, gentle reminder that Jesus is the only One who can carry all of our ‘thorns and sorrows’, our troubles, our issues and circumstances too big for us. No human can carry everything alone, and even a friend cannot carry burdens for another, regardless of how noble the cause is, and the band eloquently convey, complete with a gospel choir near the end, this point quite brilliantly; that it’s ok to be vulnerable before God, and to express that we need carrying and help.
“He Waits For Me” takes the theme of going to God when the times are tough, and extrapolates it further; with the piano prominent gospel infused ballad highlighting the fact that Jesus waits for us wherever and whenever, and we can talk to Him anytime, that ‘…where I find peace, I find my way, down by the water, He waits for me…’, while the trio eloquently express in the dance/jazz inspired 3 minute anthem “Learning To Love” how we as humans are learning to love all the time, and that being loved, appreciated and acknowledged are some of the most aspects of the human condition that we need the most, as evidenced in the verses where Caleb ardently cries out ‘…if you’re holding on, and your joy is gone, it’s love that brings you back…’. While “Moving On” on the surface seems to be a sombre melody about a hopeless situation, about maybe a broken and failed relationship, the radio friendly piano led ballad briefly hints and alludes to God restoring what was once whole, and making all things new again as Caleb laments ‘…can we bring back the days when this was everything…’.
The contemplative acoustic guitar led melody “Hold The Rain” is also another emotional and honest melody featured here, and seems to be an answer to all of the people who doubt us and question us, about whether we can handle any adversary that life throws at us. The allusion to rain being compared to adversity continues throughout the song, and Caleb asking God to ‘…hold the rain, til I find my way back home…’, as we give all of our troubles to God, asking Him to take care of our circumstances and situations for us, with this song harkening back to the themes of “Thorns And Sorrows”. The penultimate song on the album, the title track, led enthusiastically by the vibrant electric guitar, also puts the theme of surrendering control over to Jesus, firmly in the forefront, with the band declaring that they are finally giving everything over to Christ, putting trust in Him; while the final melody “Crossroads”, superbly led by the piano and acoustic guitar, and the longest melody tracking at just over 5 minutes, also delves into the same theme of trust and surrender, with Caleb fervently reiterating that he is at a crossroads and needs God to show him which way to go.
With every track of the eleven somehow tying into each other thematically, what sticks out to me, is that while we are presented with many questions yet in each track, we are delivered an ‘answer’ yet more questions arise, which is a good thing as we are given something to ponder and dwell upon. Similar to needtobreathe, Switchfoot, Third Day and Rhett Walker Band; Consumed By Fire’s release is an album for us to wrestle with, and to inspire us to fully devote our whole lives over to Jesus Christ. Giving Over in my opinion, is a release well worth your listen, as we are drawn closer in communion to God, as well as more of an awareness about ourselves and how we as Christians behave. Well done guys for this exquisite album, one that I will listen to for a while yet!
3 songs to listen to: Lean On Me, He Waits For Me, Learning To Love
RIYL: Needtobreathe, Rhett Walker Band, Third Day, Carrollton, Lifehouse