Release Date: January 13th 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Fight For You
- Can’t Get Enough
- Be Revealed
- How This Ends
When City Harbor quietly disbanded and Mikeschair was no more last year, I was intrigued that in the same breath we were given a new reason to be hopeful with anticipation- that Mike Grayson of Mikeschair and Molly Reed of City Harbor were forming a duo, aptly and even appropriately titled Grayson Reed. Musical similarities? Of course Mikeschair and City Harbor, but I guess they sound like any pop/folk band with CCM roots. Now they released their first EP titled Walk, for a good reason too, on January 13th 2017, and for anyone who was a fan or either City Harbor or Mikeschair (like myself) will be at least intrigued and at most very excited for this release from Mike and Molly. Mikeschair, for anyone who didn’t know, started in the 2000s and became a band that released three successful albums under Curb Records- MIKESCHAIR, A Beautiful Life and All or Nothing, in 2009, 2011 and 2014 respectively. While the band wasn’t as popular as other powerhouse groups like Third Day, MercyMe, Newsboys or Casting Crowns, the band’s music still was earnest and honest, hopeful and encouraging, which makes Grayson Reed’s new EP Walk all the more interesting to hear. Similarly with City Harbor, and how that was a duo that featured Molly Reed as one half of the Sparrow Records band. Releasing only one self-titled album in 2014, City Harbor quietly disbanded shortly after Molly and Mike (both husband and wife) announced Grayson Reed and their own signing to Centricity Music earlier on in 2016.
Now as the duo, hopefully with much more years ahead of them than City Harbor and Mikeschair combined; Grayson Reed have released their new EP, titled Walk, and while they are technically a new band, both Mike and Molly have been in and around the music scene for a while. And while I have high hopes for the band, to be honest, we don’t really know how long a band lasts for. Bands come and go. Some bands are one album wonders…like City Harbor. But what I do know is this- this album has heart and passion, and regardless of the future of this husband wife duo, Grayson Reed’s Walk is nevertheless a great project to listen to if you enjoy previous music from Mike and Molly in the form of Mikeschair or City Harbor. Or if you enjoy artists like Sidewalk Prophets, Matthew West, Francesca Battistelli or Love & The Outcome, then Walk EP will be a great fit for you in the upcoming year ahead. Even “Fight For You” alone should warrant a listen to not only the song but the whole EP. Who knows, maybe you just listen to the EP afterwards, and you hear the hope and enthusiasm oozing out of the tracks, from start to finish. While it is sad that both City Harbor and Mikeschair have decided to move on, Grayson Reed is a well worthy substitute for anyone who loves contemporary pop/worship, husband-wife duos, or maybe even both!
Immediately when I listen to the EP, I’m drawn already to the first track on it, and the title track, “Walk”. While the song is only just a tad below 3 minutes, the message of it is something we all need to hear as followers of Christ. With a keyboard riff to bring in the listeners, Mike delivers poignancy in the heartfelt verse of ‘…what good is a drum without a beat? Lungs that don’t breathe? A soldier that won’t fight? A pen that just won’t write? What good is a choir that don’t sing? A phone that don’t ring? What good is my life if I don’t do anything? …’ and as we hear it, we are immediately delivered something I’m sure we as Christians need to have heard eons ago- that if our words and our declarations, our encouragements and words of affirmation, aren’t evidenced by the actions and the life that we lead, then what we say isn’t really worth what we say. Or to put it in a way that even I myself can understand- we need to walk the walk more so than talking the talk. We can say all the right things but at the end of the day, if people don’t see a life that has been changed by our Heavenly Father, then how can we declare outright that our lives have indeed been changed? When all our friends and family can see is maybe even the reverse. “Walk”, underneath all the happy-pop bubbly music atmosphere, is a message that is just begging to be heard, even if it is at least once, just enough for us to start thinking, and say ‘hang on, are there areas in my own life where I need to walk it out just a little bit more?’ This song, while I may not know whether it will be a single or not in the future, has been and will continue to be one of my personal favourites from the EP, and one that I reckon should be heard (obviously alongside “Fight For You” the first radio single from the duo) if you listen to any song at all from Walk EP!
Then this brings me to the first radio single, “Fight For You”. While I know that I may not be the real target audience of the song (the song indeed is for married couples who are struggling, or even boyfriends/girlfriends who are in a rough patch in their relationship), I still am impressed at how raw, real, honest and encouraging this song is, that it doesn’t shy away from the awkward and uncomfortable, and speaks what I’m sure many couples are thinking and feeling. Marriage is hard work, and “Fight For You” acknowledges that in a moment of turmoil in a relationship, there is a choice. And as it says in the verses, we can either speak words of encouragement to a person or we can speak words that mean the opposite.
We have a choice, and often in today’s society, with a lot of divorces, we see that sadly, a decision to part ways is more a favourable choice, than to stick with it. While I don’t want to judge anyone who has been through the pain of a divorce, I do note this- that “Fight For You” is a moment of realisation, that divorce is always the last resort, that before it even gets to that stage, relationships need to be cultivated and worked through, which is why I believe this song is as much needed in society as “Walk” is. While I may not fully be immersed with the song’s true impact (because I myself am not in any relationship at the moment), “Fight For You” still rings true for me- that I ought to stand up for what I believe and know is true, instead of falling and capitulating to the world’s standards. Fighting for God, for friendships and relationships, for the downtrodden and poor, whatever we choose to fight on behalf of, this song hopefully is an encouragement, that through the hard work, we can press on to see relationships mended, marriages restored, families rebuilt and love and grace extended to those who need it the most.
The most musically unique song on the EP is the 3 minute “Can’t Get Enough”, as the genres of pop and country collide to create an ingenious track that even features the banjo in the chorus, alongside a light electronic distortion to provide one of the most musically interesting songs I’ve heard since the 1980s themed and influenced These are the Days from another husband-wife duo, Love and the Outcome. “Can’t Get Enough” is a song about how we can’t get enough of the love and grace that God gives to us- sure it’s a theme that probably has been done to death, but the musical backdrop is what makes the track unique, and quite possibly the song to listen to if you want to hear tracks primarily for their musical arrangements.
“Be Revealed”, quite possibly the second official radio single for the band, stands out to me personally on the EP, and speaks about in circumstances where we may often least expect it, God is revealed and speaks to us on a personal level, either through people, circumstances, situations, events, or even nature and things that we can often overlook, like in movies, TV shows and music. “Bloom” and “How This Ends” are the remaining songs on the EP, the first being a song that both Mike and Molly wrote for their daughter Grailey- a 2:48 acoustically driven pop melody about how more often than not, life doesn’t work out how we all want it to, but rather, it’s the difficult times that shape us more as a person, to bloom out of difficulty and uncertainty; and the latter being a powerful declaration (to the devil) of our victory we have in Christ, that we all know that ‘…the battle’s already won, can’t come back now it’s done, go ahead and try to rip my heart out again and again, but we both know how this ends…’, with God as the victor of the battle between good and evil, between light and dark, death and life.
Grayson Reed’s new EP is a long time coming. Not to say that their previous projects in Mikeschair and City Harbor have been less than stellar, in fact, listening to Grayson Reed’s Walk has made me lament for Mikeschair and City Harbor all the more. Yet in the same breath, Mike and Molly have complemented each other so seamlessly and poetically on the EP that I can’t help by enjoy and love the duo. And while the EP is only 6 songs (the half a point taken off was indeed because the EP was too short, maybe a full length album in the future?), Mike and Molly have delivered songs that have tremendous replay value, songs that are as much needed in society as they are to be enjoyed casually on a Sunday afternoon played in the background whilst doing chores or other things. Grayson Reed is a welcomed addition to the Christian music scene, and while I may not know whether this duo will be as successful as Mikeschair or City Harbor, what I do know is this- Mike and Molly have given us an EP well worthy of even just one listen- and maybe, just maybe, songs like “Fight For You”, “Walk” and “Be Revealed” will touch your life as it has mine. A standout amongst albums released in January 2017 thus far; Grayson Reed has a certain bright future ahead of them, if it is anything like what Walk has to offer. Congrats to both Mike and Molly for the EP, here’s to the next few months of lives impacted by the songs on the EP. Looking forward to the full-length, whenever it comes!
3 songs to listen to: Fight For You, Be Revealed, Walk
RIYL: Sidewalk Prophets, Matthew West, Francesca Battistelli, Love & The Outcome