Release Date: May 13th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Run to You
- Face in the Dark
- More Than You Think
‘…after all these years, the most rewarding thing is still seeing legitimate and quantifiable life changes through encounters with God through what we do…’ With the band famous for their hit song ‘Run To You’ (that was recently covered on Kari Jobe’s 2012 album Where I Find You), The Ember Days have been able to incorporate worshipful music with an independent and unpolished sound, breaking down the barriers of CCM and everything else as this quintet, who distribute through Come & Live, provide a great alternative to current radio hits. Releasing their most recent studio album More Than You Think to commercial and fan acclaim, the band continues to be one of the most ingenious and underrated worship artists (encompassing both CCM and indie genres) of the modern era.
As they released their live 5 track EP aptly titled Live on May 13th, The Ember Days continue to ride the wave of success from their most recent musical offering, with 4 out of the 5 tracks represented on the release from More Than You Think. While some live albums/EPs seemingly mix their sounds underwhelmingly, the band, who are fronted by husband and wife Jason and Janell Belcher, continue to defy the trend and reveal one of the most cohesive and poignant live recordings since North Point Christmas’s Let There Be Light. Powerful and poignant, comforting yet equally confronting a the same time; the music of The Ember Days continue to unite listeners who enjoy various different music genres, as we are collectively reminded that ‘…I need You, I can’t get enough of You, I come alive when I’m in Your presence, oh God of my salvation…’ (“Run To You”)
Possibly their most famous song ever, “Run To You” stands out on the EP as the band present this melody with enthusiastic passion as a powerful electric guitar introduction brings the anthem to life as Janell declares out ‘…You are calling, You are calling me to You, and I run…’ Emotion and outpouring, we are met with a song that shows us that it is God that is the only one we ought to run towards, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. As a big crescendo moves throughout the song as before long, the melody explodes into the powerful anthem we know and love, Janell sings out her heart in worship, along with the instrumental arrangements of electric guitars, synths and percussion. One of the most lyrically encouraging and poignant songs ever from the band, “Run to You” is certain to become an Ember Days classic (in fact, I reckon it already is!).
“Awake”, “Face in the Dark”, “More Than You Think” and “Prodigal”, the remaining four tracks on the album, are all live recordings of studio tracks on More Than You Think, and while at times the crowd can be distracting when they sing out in tandem with Janell on the songs, overall the melodies stay true to the originals, and offer up an alternative version where the live atmosphere is captured as we hear arguably some of the most enjoyable indie-worship songs of 2013. A great song to start off the EP with, “Awake” is a joyous moment where Janell places on her ‘Dawn Michelle meets Kim Walker-Smith’ hat. With the song reminding us all through the song that as we are awakened to Christ’s love, our hearts and minds are transformed as we fully grasp the immensity of Christ’s sacrifice for us; Janell shows us worship in its rawest form- us face to face with the truth that if our hearts are not awakened to the knowledge of who Christ is, transformation cannot occur.
“Face in the Dark” is a call for us to call upon God during the difficult times as we prayerfully ask God to move in the times where we need Him the most. Continuing a great Dawn Michelle impersonation, Janell declares out, amidst the electric guitar distortion effects- ‘…oh move the mountains, oh, part the seas Lord, oh, move the mountains, You healed the lepers when they called Your name, You healed the broken…will You heal me?…’, all the while reflecting ourselves to see if we ourselves would even ask God for healing if necessary.
Finishing off the EP with live renditions of “Prodigal” (with a poignant theme of running back to God our Father after the difficult times we face) and “More Than You Think” (an instrumental track that allows the listener to be brought alongside the band on a musical journey as we use the 7 minutes for great free worship); The Ember Days, a band from New Zealand, have offered us a great worshipful experience (albeit a very short one!). Showcasing the notion that there is still something great within the indie worship genre, this is a great find for anyone who loves worship as a genre of music, or anyone who loves live material. Janell’s vocals are stronger than ever, and while the band isn’t that popular even now, The Ember Days continue to soldier on, with this live EP reflecting the poignancy of the studio counterpart of it, More Than You Think. Well done to Janell, Jason and the band for giving us one of the most encouraging worship EP’s since The Sonflowerz’s Love Walked In!
3 songs to listen to: More Than You Think, Run To You, Awake
RIYL: All Sons and Daughters, The Sonflowerz, Audrey Assad, Leeland