Fair Trade Services
Release Date: January 14th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Say Goodbye (Say Hello)
Founded by Josh Havens and Matt Fuqua, pop/rock and CCM band The Afters, originating from Dallas, Texas; have had a pretty remarkable and unbelievable ride over the past few years. On the heels of their highly successful, critically acclaimed and widely popular 2013 album Life Is Beautiful featuring smash hits like “Every Good Thing”, “Broken Hallelujah”, the title track and “What We’re Here For”; the band more than took their time with the 3 and a half year wait until their next offering Live On Forever. One would say that the hiatus was excruciating, yet for the band, it seems like the hiatus was just what they needed- with plenty of melodies on this 10-track album designed to inspire and motivate, encouraging believers and non-believers alike to keep fighting the good fight, and keep going on, because God has our back. Reinvigorated with a renewed sense of passion and purpose, there seemed to be no limit at where The Afters will skyrocket too, after what I believe was the release of their career defining album, at least lyrically and thematically. The group also released Fear No More in 2019, and after probably their most CCM album to date, as well as a so-so live album that didn’t inspire me that much, these guys are back for their lead single from their unnamed new studio album, releasing later on this year. This song is called “Say Goodbye (Say Hello)”… and boy, can I say that this song is rather interesting?
I’m a big fan of The Afters. Songs like “Light Up The Sky”, “Live On Forever”, “Beautiful Love”, “Ocean Wide”, “Never Going Back To OK”, “Broken Hallelujah”, “Lift Me Up”, “Sunrise”, “Runaway”, “Moments Like This”, “This Life”, “Life Is Beautiful”, “Well Done”, “Fear No More”, “Battles”, “Wake Up My Heart” and “Eyes Of A Believer” are all resonating and impacting. Which makes this latest track all the more strange and weird. Because you see, “Say Goodbye (Say Hello)” is a pop song, and apart from the references to God and ‘the enemy’, there’s hardly anything in here musically and lyrically, as well as creatively, that is redeeming. Sorry guys, but this song doesn’t appeal to me at all, and I’ve already heard it a lot of times on the radio here in Australia. Any way you slice this song; it’s repetitive, incredibly cliché and wraps everything up in a bow. I know, I know, CCM music is meant to cater to the soccer mums and the stay-at-home parents, and as such it’s family-friendly and mostly doesn’t address the messy parts of faith when we have doubts and can’t seem to reconcile parts of Christianity with the realities and complexities of life. and thus, everything is wrapped up in a bow because American Christians want their CCM songs homogenised and sanitised and separate from the world. However, The Afters seem to, on this song, throw together a bunch of cliché lines and expect them to stick. At least with the rest of the songs on their career, there seemed to be effort and genuine trying to inspire people to walk the Christian life, even if it was slightly cliché. On this song, though the band is still well-meaning, I didn’t feel like the song was even trying to be sensitive to the real issues of the world, so sorry to say. This may not have been the band’s intention, but with so many Christians deconstructing around the world, this song might just drive them further away. Sure, it’s the truth, that we can indeed ‘…say goodbye, goodbye to the enemy’s lies, goodbye to the fear inside, goodbye to the shame you hide, goodbye to regret for life, say hello to born again, say hello to love that never ends, you can leave the past behind, look it straight in the eye…’, but sometimes for those wrestling with doubt, it isn’t that easy. To say it is, is actually simplifying walking with Jesus, and that’s the part of this song that I’m frustrated with.
After a more than 3 year wait between albums, “Say Goodbye (Say Hello)” isn’t a good look. I will still follow The Afters and their songs; and I still will anticipate their upcoming album. If you’re a fan of CCM, I hope you give these guys more of a chance and look past this song, because I do hope it is a blip on the radar of a brilliant career thus far. Yet if I want to be inspired by The Afters, then the trio of albums of Light Up The Sky, Life Is Beautiful and Live On Forever is Josh and co. at their best. And so even if you’re not a fan of the group and this new direction (here’s hoping more of their 2022 songs recapture that old spark that makes these guys unique and inspiring!); check out this song and let me know what you think! Too cliché? Let me know. And remember though- one song doesn’t make a bad career, and here’s hoping that The Afters can rebound swiftly. They’re too good to fade away!
RIYL: Building 429, Sanctus Real, Tenth Avenue North, MercyMe, Audio Adrenaline