Release Date: May 6th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Brighter Than The Sun
- Alive In Me
- A Little Faith
- Shine On Me
Produced by Ed Cash, and sounding eerily like singer/songwriter Josh Wilson vocally; I was intrigued by Dante Schmitz’s new album/EP Brighter Than The Sun due to his German sounding name. Not knowing anything about him; I stumbled upon this album on noisetrade in early May (or was is bandcamp, I’m not sure… it’s not up online now though), and with an interesting name and a compelling album cover, I was sold. I am half German, for those who didn’t know, as my dad and his family come from Germany, so it was fascinating to hear Dante sing on the album, as well as the ease at which Dante fitted the singer/songwriter and acoustic/CCM mould vocally and musically.
Worth checking out for those who may be slightly apprehensive due to the unfamiliarity and German authenticity of his name; Dante draws influences from Josh Wilson, as well as others like Jadon Lavik, Brandon Heath, Bebo Norman and Andrew Peterson- his optimistic, bright and musically poppy and airy album, littered with references to Scripture and God without being overt, has me singing passionately from song 1 til 8, and will certainly be on my iTunes playlist for a while yet. And for those who are not sold yet, take a read on and guaranteed you’ll be a fan afterwards.
Opening the track list is the title track. With a heavy acoustic guitar and southern rock presence, Dante sings about his testimony, and delves into the undeniable fact that God’s love is brighter than the sun. Upbeat and uplifting, this danceable melody, bringing a smile to my face, is a great opener, and the subject matter, of encouraging us in the hard times of this life, is universal and unthreatening. While changing perspectives, as Dante sings to a friend in the verses, and God in the chorus, asking Him to ‘…let Your light shine through the darkness, let Your good be seen by everyone, let your love flow, and your hope will overflow, til You light shines brighter than the sun…’, that is the only nit-pick that I can comment about this song; that the change point of view could be distracting. Other than that, the tone is set, which is buoyant and moving, which translates to the rest of the tracks.
Both the radio friendly “Footprints”, inspired by the famous poem of the same name, and the piano pop/rock single “Uncovered” carry on from the first track and speak about prevalent issues of today’s society. “Footprints” speaks about the yearning and desperation for God to hold and carry them through times of trouble (a longing that is transcendent across all belief systems), as Dante powerfully and emphatically declares truth after truth against explosive yet also captivating guitar and keys, with real and uninhibited emotion; and the fast paced guitar led tune “Uncovered” delves into the fact that ‘…I wanna live my life uncovered, I wanna be more than a number, all I need is Your love, I wanna lie life less ordinary, I wanna be extraordinary…’, putting God’s love front and centre of the things we need in life- more important than food, water and air. As Dante earnestly describes the extent of his love for our Creator; this theme is explored further in “Dwell”.
A mid tempo pop/rock country style song that is sung from two perspectives (at times from God’s perspective, but mostly from our own point of view), and driven by guitar and keys, Dante sings a duet (I’m not sure who with, but I know it’s a female singer…or it could be Dante himself trying to sing very high…) and provides a live atmosphere via call and response. Singing scripture from the Psalms, this comforting and encouraging track, with music that sounds similar to the Newsboys hit “God’s Not Dead”, is a personal highlight; no doubt anyone can be uplifted through these prophetic declarations of truth! As we dwell on the fact that Jesus is with us always, and that He is our everything, even in times when we don’t feel it; the back half of the album is full of hits and enjoyable songs as well!
From the slow paced acoustic guitar driven and banjo infused ballad Rend Collective like “Alive In Me”, that reaffirms the fact that Jesus is alive in us ‘…when I thought I lost my way…’; to the heartfelt and poignant personal track “A Little Faith”, the subdued song that speaks about self-doubt, yet also points us to hope and security in Jesus; Dante seems to be at home musically in the slower reflective melodies- these songs are some of the most vulnerable that I have heard in a while, and that is a big compliment given that Dante doesn’t have the backing of a label yet. Showing us versatility and courage musically, as the album winds down to a close, Dante encourages us with yet another upbeat country like acoustic driven melody in “Everything”.
A vertical corporate worship song in which Dante proclaims that ‘…oh, you are my Lord, You are my strength, when I am weak, hear me Lord, You are my tongue, You are my speech, You are my King, You are my Lord, You’re everything…’, this song is filled with many instruments, yet also doesn’t feel cluttered, as Dante uses the abundance of instruments to work together in harmony, and sings lyrics to fit the sound of the instruments. What a fantastic vocalist and songwriter. The praise and sentiments of mine then carry onto the powerful and epic album finisher “Shine On Me”. With the poignant verses telling a story like what Matthew West does now in his music, the big, epic, grandiose chorus delivers a message worthy of repeating. With the heart of the music on this song rooted in country and acoustic pop, we hear the cries of desperation from someone at their lowest point, asking God to ‘…shine on me in my darkest days, let your love and grace fill my soul…’; and that is something that I think we should pray to God all the time. We all need guidance and clarity in life, especially in times of trouble, and Dante has shown us that Jesus Christ is the One who can give us what we need. A solid and refreshing album to listen to, Dante has once again championed the cause of the independent artist, and this album is guaranteed to inspire and help, as he gives us reason to hope and press on amidst struggles and our problems, because Jesus is with us.
Dante Schmitz’s Brighter Than The Sun is a collection of heart-warming songs for the soul, and they definitely came from left field. Defying my expectations, Dante has given us songs in any situation, songs for praise, songs for reflection, songs for dancing, and songs for inspiration. Personally, I’m glad I stumbled upon Dante’s album a few months ago, and I hope that many of you will be blessed by his music as well. One of my favourite ep’s of 2014 (8 songs is less than an album length…); I am definitely looking forward to his next album, and will also be recommending this album to anyone and everyone, as I believe that we all need words of comfort and reassurance, which si exactly what Dante gives through his songs!
3 songs to listen to: Brighter Than The Son, Dwell, Shine On Me
RIYL: Brandon Heath, Josh Wilson, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jadon Lavik, John Waller