Newsboys – Newsboys UNITED (Live) (EP)

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Release Date: April 17th 2020

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

NewsboysNewsboys UNITED (Live) – EP (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Greatness of Our God
  2. Symphony
  3. Love One Another
  4. Only the Son (Yeshua)
  5. Beautiful Story

Newsboys are a band with no introduction needed. In fact, let my blog do all the introducing when I wrote about the Newsboys last year as part of my Top 100 Influential artists list…and now that we have all established that the Newsboys are in fact one of the most impactful and influential CCM bands in modern music history, we see in 2020 another release in the arsenal of this 6-piece united band, comprising of both Peter Furler and Phil Joel in addition to Michael Tait, Jeff Frankenstein, Jody Davis and Duncan Phillips. This time it’s an EP from the band, showcasing some of their fan-favourites from their most recent 2019 UNITED album- in live format.

Recorded on the recent Greatness of Our God Tour in 2019, this EP delivers the fan favourites that we all know to love from their recent studio album- ‘Greatness Of Our God’ kicks off the live EP with the timely message that God is greater than we can ever know. Musically, the song is something out of the era of Adoration/Devotion/Thrive, and that’s ok. It is nostalgia but also a new thing. It is unique and different, and maybe at times uncertain how to navigate with two lead singers, but with the release of this new single, we are reminded that often, it works. The song is a reminder of God’s greatness and though some, if not most, of the lyrics can sound cliché, the passion and enthusiasm of Peter’s voice, and the nostalgia that Phil and Peter bring, should and ought to be impetus for us to listen to the song, at least once. Many bands come and go, and many have many incarnations. Newsboys UNITED look like they’re here to stay for a while yet. ‘Symphony’ comes along next, a song that is as worshipful as it is hopeful, encouraging and at times reminding us that old and new can coexist together. The song itself is as biblical as they come- the band discloses a theme of us living our lives as if a symphony is ejecting out of us and permeating whomever we meet. A symphony, by definition, is one of a big and grandiose anthem, a literal musical piece that evoke feelings of passion and hope, of restoration and renewal, that when one listens to a symphony piece, we can’t help but feel inspired and called to action- how one such style of a musical layered composition can undertake and bring to the fore such feelings of action is still considered a mystery, but as this song by Peter, Michael and co. relays, our lives themselves ought to be like a symphony, when people view our lives not only from a distance but up close. How we live our lives both in public and private ought to be all in for the things we believe truly matter, resounding and giving out a symphony atmosphere in the process.

‘Love One Another’, originally a collaboration with Kevin Max, 1/3rd of DC Talk, we see the song being sung here in a live setting…this time with Kevin Max present for the entire song- as opposed to just coming in, during a certain section of the track. While this song sadly doesn’t stray that much from it’s 2:22 length that was on the studio album, this 2:27 live track features Kevin Max having a few more ‘yeaahhh’ moments throughout the song (alongside repeating the words that both Michael and Peter sing, just for effects and a different sound in a live setting). All in all, the song is about loving one another, and though not necessarily explicitly ‘Christian’ in nature, the song does give us a timely reminder to show love to our fellow man, one of the very commandments Jesus told us all to undertake (aside from loving Him of course!). I still think that Kevin Max is majorly under-utilised here, maybe he could’ve sung the first or second verse by himself? Nevertheless, it is great to hear Kevin, arguably one of the most underrated voices in the music industry…ever! ‘Only The Son (Yeshua)’ follows along after the Kevin Max collaboration, with the song being shortened by a full 90 seconds, omitting the second verse from the live recording (which is exactly the same lyrics as the first verse!), as both Peter and Michael powerfully asser the heartfelt message that the Lord our God, our Yeshua, is to be worshipped and declared as holy, as we live out what we believe in every aspect of our waking life we lead, in whatever way we feel that expressing ourselves in our daily walk brings it all back to the Father in Heaven. Though the song felt a tad shorter than usual, this song (whose verses have been taken and sampled from ‘Yeshua’, a song on Peter Furler’s solo 2014 album, Sun and Shield) still stands tall, on this live album just like on UNITED back in 2019. ‘Beautiful Story’ rounds out the EP, this time featuring Michael Tait soloing this heartfelt ballad. The song itself parallels God to that of a writer, writing our stories and giving us a beautiful, interwoven life full of twists and turns, but ultimately a life worth living because of the lessons learned along the way. While the song itself in the live setting plays exactly similar to the studio recording last year, the song still has a powerful emotion attached to it, and is quickly becoming one of my favourite songs on UNITED– an underrated one at that!

‘…just a few short months ago we set out to capture some special performances from our tour. Little did we know we were all about to experience something that none of us have seen in our lifetime—weeks of isolation at home during a global pandemic. We hope these recordings can be a blessing for our fans while we are all ‘on pause’ in this season. We can’t wait to get back on the road, but in the meantime, we hope folks enjoy these songs live from the big stage!…’ It is in this quote that I will end this review by saying that this EP is for any Newsboys fan, for any DC Talk fan, for any fan of Peter Furler’s solo material, for any fan of music by the Newsboys from the 1990s, basically any fan of good, quality CCM quirky music. And if you haven’t heard of the Newsboys…well google is your friend. Then check out albums like Shine: The Hits, GO, Born Again, Restart, and the new 2019 album UNITED; and see how influential a band like Newsboys is in the society of music today. Well done Peter, Michael and the rest of the crew for such a stirring and vibrant EP. Now time to spin UNITED again…who’s with me?

5 songs to listen to: All of them, and then listen to UNITED, their 2019 album, again for good measure!

Score: 5/5

RIYL: Peter Furler Band, Zealand Worship, Audio Adrenaline, DC Talk, Newsboys 1.0

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