I AM THEY – Chapel Sessions

Big Future Recordings / Truss Records

Release Date: September 9th 2022

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

I AM THEY– Chapel Sessions (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Gratitude
  2. In Jesus’ Name (God Of Possible)
  3. Firm Foundation (He Won’t)
  4. Make Room

I AM THEY have been in and around the music industry for quite some time. From their chart-topping self-titled debut album in 2015, to their sophomore powerful album, 2018’s Trial and Triumph, and their third album Faithful God; this group from Carson City, Nevada has had a lot of member transition over the years, of which can be read on the band’s Wikipedia page. In light of these personnel changes and whether or not that they believed themselves that they would even continue as a band in the future; I AM THEY are holding steadfast upon the bible verse of Hebrews 10:23- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who is promised is faithful. It is the epitome of why they are a band even now, and the collective theme around their 3rd album, Faithful God. We reviewed that album here; and though we as a site didn’t connect with that project as much as we would have liked; the fact that these guys could have been a one-album wonder; wasn’t lost on us, and probably not on them either. I will always hold I AM THEY in high regard, even if their sound is perhaps too CCM; and as I quote verbatim from the review that I wrote of Trial And Triumph from 2018, I realise indeed that this band could’ve in fact been a one-album wonder, which would be a very big shame. They’re too talented to only have made one album, and I’m glad they stuck with it despite numerous lead singer and band member changes- ‘…3 years ago, in late January, an album of 10 songs released on Provident Label Group, of a 6-piece worship band that could have been a one album wonder. It’s not that I Am They’s album was a bad album- on the contrary, it was exceptional, in my opinion, one of my favourite worship albums of 2015. The band released hit singles “From The Day” and “Make A Way” as well as personal favourite songs of mine “Your Love Is Mine”, “King Of Love” and the Crowder cover “Here’s My Heart”, amongst others…yet right after the band’s label debut and subsequent popular singles, news of a sophomore album didn’t eventuate. There was radio silence, and I was left to wonder what happened. I mean, it was such a unique, inspiring and hopeful project; maybe the pressures of recording a second album living up to the expectations of the stellar debut project was too much for the band…’

It is in this quote above that I realise, knowingly or not, that we expect our favourite artists to release new material every so often, and if they don’t give new songs within a time frame that we fans would deem acceptable, our heads start to wonder and ponder. Dare I say it, we may also stop listening to said artist and go on to listen to another. And that could’ve been the case with I AM THEY. Nevertheless, their 2018 album did eventuate, and songs like “My Feet are On the Rock”, “No Impossible with You” and “Scars” eventuated from the 10-track album, and arguably one of my favourite albums of 2018. It remains my favourite I AM THEY album, and despite Faithful God being somewhat… musically predictable aside from a few songs; I still am excited about I AM THEY and their hopeful and positive musical atmosphere. Now, fast forward to now- and with another member change, we are presented with a new EP and a new label signing. Chapel Sessions released this past month; and though the project is full of covers, the overwhelming feeling on this release is joy and celebration.

Once glance at these songs and you’d find 4 melodies that are instantly recognisable. “Gratitude”, a melody originally recorded by Brandon Lake, is a stripped-down acoustic guitar led melody, and led by Brandon Chase. It’s an unexpectedly moving and hopeful moment of unbridled worship, as we hear Brandon’s earnest emotion and raw honesty here, in pure unrestrained praise and worship to God, on a song that would fit right at home on a Singalong album from Phil Wickham. “In Jesus’ Name (God Of Possible)” is next- originally recorded by Katy Nichole. An EP standout here, Brandon once again leads this song, and provides us with a moment of gratitude and thankfulness, as we sing out to someone hurting in pain: ‘…I pray for your healing, that circumstances would change, I pray that the fear inside would flee in Jesus name, I pray that a breakthrough would happen today, I pray miracles over your life in Jesus name, in Jesus name…’. The passionate and inspiring “Firm Foundation”, originally sung by Cody Carnes, is also present here (and is led by new singer Cheyenne Mitchell), and is given an acoustic I AM THEY spin; while “Make Room”, a Meredith Andrews cover, ends what is already a solid and impacting EP.

On the surface, you might not miss this album, even if you are a CCM fan- and it’s because that all of these songs are covers. But there’s still no denying the passion and hopefulness and heart for Jesus in these songs. I AM THEY are still a band to look out for, and I know that whenever they release original material next; I’ll be eagerly anticipating. Sure, Faithful God seemed to be a misstep. But the band is back with renewed vigour, and Chapel Sessions, although brief, is one of the most honest and earnest EP’s of the year. If you don’t like covers, then perhaps this project isn’t the one for you. But this is an EP that ticks all the right boxes from an objective standpoint; but that’s ok if this release doesn’t connect with you. I AM THEY’s EP is such that can and should be listened to at least once in order for people to make their own opinion, and maybe just maybe, people can enjoy this album in a much greater sense than maybe they ever thought they could.

3 songs to listen to: In Jesus’ Name, Firm Foundation, Make Room

Score: 4/5

RIYL: Love & The Outcome, Crowder, All Sons And Daughters, FFH, Avalon, Carrollton, Rend Collective

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