Independent – New Day Christian/Platinum Pop Release
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Reviewed by: Matt Billingsley
- Sun And Shield
- So High
- Dare I Say
- Yeshua (Featuring Mylon Le Fevre)
- The Overcomer
- It’s Alright (For Lazarus)
- Right Wrong Girl
- The High Road
- We Won’t Forget
Peter Furler re-emerged this past March 12, 2014 with a new album, Sun and Shield, giving his band a new moniker, Peter Furler Band. The new line-up is a power-trio with Peter Furler on lead vocals and guitar, and is joined by bassist Dave Ghazarian formerly of Audio Adrenaline and Superchick, and drummer Jeff Irizarry.
Sun and Shield is an amazing follow-up to 2011’s On Fire, and is a continuation of the sound of Peter Furler’s songwriting. If you’re a fan of the Furler-era of Newsboys, you won’t be disappointed. I’ve always thought that his sound has a Brit-pop sensibility, with simple, catchy melodies, cleverly delivered faith-based lyrics, driving beats, and ear candy coming from the guitars.
“Sun and Shield”, the first single and title track, is straight out of the gates with a great guitar riff and fast tempo. Already I’m thinking, wow… this is the sound of a songwriter with a renewed love for songwriting, faith and life. ”Sun and Shield” is a worship song that calls us out of life’s problems, perhaps even out of our idolatry, and into growing closer to God, reminding us where our “help comes from”, recalling Psalm 121.
“So High” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s a moderate tempo song that lends to a mid-1980’s sound that reminds me of The Cars or Roxy Music, both heavy-hitters in mainstream music. This is an example of Furler’s clever approach, perhaps drawing from such great influences to help convey the message of hope in this song. Again, the lyrics relate to our struggles in life, painting a picture that we all know well – confronting disappointment, getting caught up in life’s busy distractions and chaos. The chorus goes straight to Psalm 40, reminding us that God is the one who sets our feet upon a rock, making our footsteps firm, and lifting our spirits high. Consumed by the message in this song and the infectious guitar riff, I’ve listened to this track 4 times.
“Dare I Say” shifts gears, starting out with an awesomely cranky guitar riff that screams of Furler’s style. Cranky indeed – this song is about spiritual attack. Furler confronts different situations as he tells this story, referring to the “target” on his back, reminding us that we can literally pray the enemy out of our lives. I like the cranky, funky feel of this song.
“Shame.” This song brings the album into a more intimate, confessing place, and it is shameless even in its title. We all know what shame is like, and Furler brings that feeling in “Shame.” We know it’s a cycle, and that the situations in life that bring us to that place can sometimes leave a permanent mark. It’s something we can only give to God to help us through, as Furler reminds us of in this soul-baring song.
“Yeshua” (with guest vocalist Mylon Le Fevre) is the perfect follow-up to “Shame”, and is perhaps the gem of Sun and Shield. Looking back on the album up to this point, it’s clear that every song leads into the other, from one experience to another, so the listener can arrive at this amazing, intimate place of worship. In Yeshua, there is an expression of gratitude, worship, and an undeniable desire for Holiness. These things only build throughout the song, with the vocals, including the amazing guest vocal of Mylon LeFevre, and ultimately a Gospel choir to bring the message to its highest point in the song. “We worship You, In spirit and in truth…” Amen, enough said.
“The Overcomer” takes us back to our struggle between our belief, the world, and the enemy. The verses take through situations in the world that we can relate to, and the chorus reminds us that it is through our faith and belief that we can overcome the struggles of this world. Complete with a catchy guitar riff and driving, moderate feel – the music and words pull on our heart strings to persevere again and again as we place our hope in the Kingdom.
“It’s Alright (for Lazarus)” is an amazing ballad with an ethereal, layered sound, complete with the return of the uplifting background vocals from a Gospel choir. It’s a song about coming back to life, drawing on the story of Lazarus. As I’m listening to the encouraging chorus, I’m reminded of God’s breath, spiritual renewal, the hope for us and the departed, and the knowledge that our hope is in God’s amazing, life-giving grace. This track is yet another that will be on-repeat.
“Right Wrong Girl” is one of the most experimental songs I’ve heard from Peter Furler. It almost reminds me of a song that would be in a film soundtrack, describing a character in a scene. The lyrics come from a personal place, talking about the right wrong girl who is filled with God’s grace, but is unpredictable, in a good way. He loves her, this Georgia girl, for being the right one, but perhaps the one he doesn’t deserve. Sometimes, that’s how we know when God is in it – when we have someone in our life or experience blessings that we don’t deserve.
“The High Road”, the second to last track on Sun and Shield, is a great song about exactly what its title suggests – finding it in your heart to take the high road, and being equipped for the spiritual journey of the Christ-follower. One thing I love about Furler’s writing is that there’s always this sense of compassion with the listener, whoever it might be. I also like the influences I’m hearing in this track. The drums and moderate feel of the song, complimented by the acoustic guitar and vocal melody remind me of a song from the later albums of The Beatles. This song is an addictive deep cut that’s prone to the repeat button.
Sun and Shield closes on a quiet note, “We Won’t Forget.” It’s a poignant song that conveys the most important message – we can’t forget why Christ gave his life for us. This song, like “Yeshua”, will only gain purpose and momentum as it is sung by Christ-followers in churches around the world. It has a powerful message that would play nicely alongside songs like “We Believe” by Newsboys on Christian radio stations.
As “We Won’t Forget” ends on a reflective note, my first reflex is to go back and listen to Peter Furler Band’s album Sun and Shield again and again. This is a great follow-up album to On Fire, and suggests that there are only greater things to come from Peter Furler Band.
My Top 5 Faves from Sun and Shield:
“Sun and Shield”
“The High Road”
“We Won’t Forget”
RIYL: Hillsong United, Chris Tomlin, Peter Furler, Tenth Avenue North