Newsboys – Love Riot

Fair Trade Services

Release Date: March 4th 2016

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Newsboys– Love Riot (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Crazy
  2. Hero
  3. Love Riot
  4. Guilty
  5. You Hold It All (Every Mountain)
  6. No Longer Slaves
  7. Family Of God
  8. Committed
  9. Earthquake
  10. What I Want Them To Say

“…When I speak from stage, I often talk about love. Darkness has been so prevalent in our culture. Let’s have a love riot-it’s time…” Over the past 30 years of being a band, popular and respected CCM pop/rock band Newsboys, who formed in Australia, have had a very interesting ride. With plenty of member changes (with lead singer changes from John James to Peter Furler to the most recent Michael Tait; as well as guitar changes from Jody Davis to Bryan Olesen, to Paul Colman, back to Jody, being the most prominent changes, as well as Phil Joel leaving!), one of the most talked about bands in CCM history, have provided us with hit after hit, plenty of number one singles, as well as inspirational melodies with honest and heartfelt lyrics. From songs like “It Is You”, “I Am Free”, “Born Again”, “In The Hands Of God” and “Something Beautiful”, to “God’s Not Dead”, “Shine”, “Entertaining Angels”, “I’m Not Ashamed”, “Take Me To Your Leader” and “We Believe”; it seems that no matter the genre, no matter the lead singer, the band will always be relevant, encouraging and needed in the CCM industry, as we remember the love that Jesus has for each one of us.

Releasing their brand new studio album Love Riot to stores next week, their debut album via Fair Trade Services, on the heels of their successful and popular 2013 album Restart and the 2014 hymns album Hallelujah For The Cross; we are ushered into the next phase of Newsboys– a phase that seems to be just a new beginning for them. From the hit single “Guilty”- the lead song of the movie God’s Not Dead 2, releasing in April 2016; to the powerful and honest covers of “No Longer Slaves” (Bethel Music) and “You Hold It All” (Travis Ryan); Love Riot sets out to spark a revival amongst our generation, to generate excitement in Jesus, and to start a fire in our soul when it comes to our passion and devotion to our Maker- and I reckon the band has accomplished its goal quite well! Kudos to Michael, Duncan, Jody and Jeff for creating 10 epic gems and treasures that will stay in my heart and soul for a very long time.

Opening the track list is the explosive rocker “Crazy”, which was a promotional single a few weeks ago. Led by vibrant electric guitar, Michael and co. passionately convey the fact that we as Christians can be fearless and crazy in love and on fire for Jesus Christ because of everything He’s done for us. Not watering down the gospel or sugar-coating anything at all; we are reminded that Jesus was everything that the world never expected Him to be, that ‘…You turned the world on its head with Your words, said, “the first will be last and the last will be first”, You loved the traitor, those who spat in Your face, and You gave up a throne for a cross and a grave…’. In this world today, it’s mostly controversial to live a life outside of the norm, but Newsboys show us with great skill and professionalism that following our God with everything we are is common sense, and we can be called ‘Jesus Freaks’ per se, as ‘…some say strange, some say odd, I say child of the living God, some say mad, some say wrong, I say child of the living God…’.

Following on from the enthusiastic rocker album opener is the equally impressive mid tempo guitar led “Hero”, another rocker (which is more dance and pop than rock, by the way!) that showcases Michael’s pristine and near-flawless vocals, reminding us that Jesus is our hero, that He is the One we are and should be glorifying. As proclaimed in the chorus, we as Christians should aspire to ‘…lay me down to lift You up, You’re the only king in the kingdom come, if I live, if I die, my life will show, You’re my hero…’, and we must also remember that Jesus is the Hero, the role model that never fails us, the One we can rely on even in our most difficult times. Carrying on the musical trend of pop/rock, and slightly more dance, is the bouncy, catchy title track, delving into actively being the hands and feet of Jesus, and actively leading the charge in sharing Jesus’ love to the world, as we ‘…unite and join the fight in this love riot…’, an admirable plight and necessary message for us all to hear, as Christians shouldn’t want to keep what we all know and love inside, but rather infectiously share what and who we know and love that is Jesus Christ, to those who really need to know the news!

Known as the lead song for the movie God’s Not Dead 2, lead single “Guilty” was released in September 2015, and packs a punch musically, thematically and lyrically, as Michael emphatically declares his boldness is his faith, wanting to be guilty in the charge of standing for Christ. As the film is about a scenario where a high school teacher is charged and put to trial for speaking about Jesus in the class room, Newsboys put their faith front and centre of their songs, and declare that Jesus is everything compared to anything else, as ‘…if saying I believe is out of line, if I’m judged cause I’m gonna give my life, to show the world the love that fills me, then I want to be guilty…’. A song sure to challenge us as to how much we value our faith in Christ, and the importance we place on ensuring that everyone else knows about our faith; Newsboys transition into more worship as the album progresses.

Both “You Hold It All” and “No Longer Slaves” are covers from Travis Ryan and Bethel Music respectively, and each are sung and performed to perfection and brutal honesty from Michael and the rest of the band. Written by Travis Ryan, “You Hold It All”, inspired by Travis Ryan and his wife’s miscarriage and the subsequent birth of his daughter, is a reminder that God holds the whole world together, and loves us each more than enough, and is interested in our own personal lives so much, that he holds each one of our lives together, knowing the future, and guiding the plans He has for us. Driven by soft piano, and later on by big booming guitars and drums, this captivating and epic worship anthem is sure to bring healing to many lives, as Newsboys add exemplary and eternal truths in the chorus, and sing out that ‘…You stand alone in splendour, You reign in majesty, Your hands formed all creation, Your hands are holding me, You are my Hope forever, You are my sovereign King, You are my Friend and Saviour, You are my Everything…’.

“No Longer Slaves” carries on from “You Hold It All” in terms of worship, with the notion that Jesus holds everything together expanded upon, to the theme of Jesus holding us because we are His children, that ‘…I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God…’– as Michael delivers a worthy version of probably one of the most popular and catchiest Bethel Music songs ever. The theme of children of Jesus is also delved into in the pure pop CCM mid-tempo ballad “Family of God”. With Michael passionately and ardently reminding us that no matter who we are or who we’ve been, we can be a part of the family of God if we want to be, we are also reminded by the fact that we can ask God to join His ever growing family, which isn’t bound by race, socio economic status or any other factor. What a freeing notion, that we can ask God and be a part of His family.

With the first couple of musical bars sounding eerily similar to Peter Furler’s “I’m Alive”, the soul/jazz/hand clapping and banjo prominent pop/rock melody “Committed” reiterates the fact that we should be totally committed to Jesus, that we are like an open book, nothing to hide, that when push comes to shove, we are totally devoted to Christ at the end of everything. While the penultimate melody on Love Riot, “Earthquake” is similar musically to something Owl City would record, with keys, synth and electronics abound, with the lyrics highlighting the fact that we all need a push from God, a catalyst in our lives to kickstart our relationship with God again, or deepen our relationship with Christ, as Michael earnestly cries out ‘…shatter my walls, let my kingdom fall, I don’t wanna wear this crown no more, my heart is Yours to take, it’s You that can save me, it’s You that can shake me…’.

The last song on such a lyrically and musically diverse, important and impressive record is the heartfelt and in-your-face “What I Want Them To Say”, as Michael challenges us all into pondering about what we want our friends, families and loved ones to say about us after we have died. What will our legacy be? Well, this song answers the big questions in part, as Michael longs to be a person ‘…whose faith didn’t fade, when everything crashed, he didn’t cave, he never lost his awe and wonder, the one that kept me from going under, and he ran a good race, that’s what I want, what I want, I want them to say…’. Isn’t that all something to strive for? To be giving glory to Jesus is everything we do, and to be the man God wants us to be? As an album closer, Michael, Duncan, Jody and Jeff have created a song sure to pose lots of questions, as we strive to be more like Jesus, and actively ensure that our legacy will be something that can and will be passed down from generation to generation.

“…it doesn’t work to get out there and point a finger. We want to impact the world with a straight and true message, and deliver it with all-encompassing love…”. What more can I say about Love Riot that I haven’t mentioned already? Personally I reckon this album is just a good as Restart though if you’re not a fan of Michael Tait as lead singer and prefer Peter Furler instead, then I’m not sure about this worship album, but I’d say ‘check it out anyway’, as you never know if it’ll be your new favourite album or not. As the overall encompassing theme of Newsboys’ latest project is one that is being committed and devoted to Christ 100%, we are reminded by this fact and encouraged to be more active in our faith, and being pushed a little is always a good thing. Well done guys for a stellar album, and one that will be on my music playlist for a long time!

3 songs to listen to: Love Riot, You Hold It All, What I Want Them To Say

Score: 4.5/5

RIYL: Audio Adrenaline, Sanctus Real, Building 429, Tenth Avenue North, MercyMe

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