Release Date: June 17th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- All Over the World (feat. Star)
- You Don’t Let Go (feat. Jessica Mack)
- Deeper Than the Ocean (feat. LoveCollide)
- How Bad We Need Each Other
‘…music has this incredible potential to elevate people out of the ordinary and into something spectacular, and that’s what we’re inviting people into. If that’s happening, then we’re truly connecting with people and that’s what it’s all about…it’s hard to be a kid in the twenty-first century. I want to make music that meets kids where they’re at and walks with them through the journey of discovering what life is truly about. I write songs from personal experience, and that’s what I love about music—the more personal it is, the more universal it ends up, because everyone’s going through the same things when you really get down to it…’ Northern Wonder has been releasing music for a while now, yet I have only discovered this unique group this year. Drawing parallels to other one-man bands like Owl City and Urban Rescue; Northern Wonder features frontman Tyler Moody, where the name ‘Northern Wonder’ is spawned from the idea found in C.S. Lewis’s book Surprised by Joy, and how often at times we could be lifted into a realm of joy and wonder that can only be explained through the presence of God in our lives at that very moment. Northern Wonder is what I would describe as electronic pop, in a similar vein musically to Hawk Nelson (current lineup), Owl City, Jason Dunn and even Relient K to some extent. Northern Wonder has been releasing EPs since 2014, and with two under his belt, he released another in June 2016, this time with more of a worshipful element covering these 4 tracks. With three collaborations out of the four, Northern Wonder has delivered a great electronic indie album full of potential and promise. While I know he doesn’t have the prowess and popularity as Owl City…yet; I do believe that this EP certainly cements the fact that he’s on his way- maybe in a few years. This EP has been a surprise, and is a must-have if you have enjoyed Owl City, as well as other artists, like Relient K, Hawk Nelson or Jonathan Thulin.
This EP is littered with electronics. A lot of them. In fact, so much so, that many listeners may equate Northern Wonder to be a copycat Owl City or Capital Kings. And that’s ok- it’s good to make comparisons. Yet underneath all the sheen of electronics are songs that are heartfelt and encouraging, emotive and poignant. One of such is “You Don’t Let Go”, a duet featuring rising country star Jessica Mack. With an underlying electronic drum beat loop, we are met with some of the most honest lyrics I’ve heard on the EP- as Jessica takes charge of the verses and Tyler sings out the chorus. As we are reminded through this melody, that ‘…there is a solid rock to stand upon, the King, His name is God with us, Emmanuel, always…’, Northern Wonder has created a song that could’ve been on K-Love…only if the electronics were stripped away and replaced by ‘real’ instruments. Nevertheless, Northern Wonder is as experimental as they come, and “You Don’t Let Go” is a song to declare in every season of our lives- the good and the bad. A standout on All Over the World, Tyler has delivered a song that I reckon will become a fan favourite in live shows in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.
The remainder of the EP continues to be a testament to how electronic music can be worshipful at the same time. “How Bad We Need Each Other”, though it may sound like a relationship-style track when we just read the song title, is as equally catchy as it is poignant and memorable. Tributing this song to the victims who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting, Tyler presents to us a theme about needing each other, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and even our friends and family, in this life we’re living. Not a romantic love song I initially thought it would be; “How Bad We Need Each Other” calls us to lay down hate and to remember, that ‘…when I can hear you crying out and you’re in trouble, I will be waiting here to share your struggle, the only thing that matters is you’re my brother, we’ll never know how bad we need each other…’ We were meant for community and fellowship, and this song is a call to help our fellow man, regardless of what we all believe. A song that I reckon will become a cross-over success in the mainstream industry, “How Bad We Need Each Other” is again another highlight on the EP…a music video in the future? The EP finishes with “Deeper than the Ocean”, a duet with pop duo LoveCollide, as we are reminded through the song that God’s love for us runs deeper than the pain and hurt we may face; and “All Over the World”, a CCM-esque melody featuring rapper STAR as Tyler places on his best Jason Dunn impression in a song that reminds us all that everyone around the world is looking for something to fill a hole only God has the ability to fill.
Northern Wonder’s 4 tracks are enough for us to sit tight and wonder when it will be before Tyler releases a full length album. While we’re waiting for that to happen; we can still sit back and listen to these 4 songs, even if at times it can still be too electronic for my liking. Yet even I may not be the actual target audience for this EP. I have enjoyed a lot of CCM, and while this EP doesn’t necessarily fall under the CCM umbrella, I can still appreciate the artistry and creativity behind the one man band which is Northern Wonder. With a certain standout being “You Don’t Let Go”, this is a perfect gift for anyone who loves Hawk Nelson (both the new and old lineup), Jason Dunn, Owl City or Relient K. Well done Tyler for such an enjoyable EP, can’t wait to the full length album whenever it arises.
3 songs to listen to: You Don’t Let Go, How Bad We Need Each Other, All Over the World
RIYL: Hawk Nelson, Owl City, Relient K, Capital Kings