Release Date: June 17th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Breathtakingly Beautiful
- I’ll Follow You
- Angels We Have Heard On High
The Rubyz has been a part of the lives of many tweens and teens around the world for quite a number of years. With the formation of the band being that of providing young people with music and a means of expressing their love for Jesus, it is no doubt that with every band, members leave and members come in to fill the void. As with any group, members may feel like God is calling them to other areas, and with original The Rubyz member, Alexis Slifer has been there since the beginning when the tween band started in 2008, when Alexis was a young teen herself. Fast forward until 2015 when Alexis decided to pursue a worship career, The Rubyz have managed to soldier on, still keeping the name, yet reinventing themselves a bit with three new members. Since their induction into the trio in 2014, when The Rubyz 2.0 released VIP, a 9 song album of re-recorded hits from the career of the band thus far; it is their 2016 EP titled I’ll Follow You where the voices of Tanner Davis, Jessica Coffey and Addy Schneider shine in 4 brand-new song and 1 Christmas single. While the primary focus of the band (and EP) is to bring in young tweens and teenagers (girls and boys) to a world of Christian music; I have found myself thoroughly enjoying the EP myself, even if I may not have been their primary target audience. Nevertheless, I’ll Follow You sets the benchmark for Christian pop music for children, as The Rubyz, under the new lineup, are certain to be band to look out for this coming year, as I’ll Follow You becomes one of the most out-of-left-field EP’s I’ve listened to in 2016 thus far!
There are signs that an album is targeted towards children or not. Cliché lyrics, simple to learn melodies, repetition, even covers of worship songs choreographed so that children can be involved in such tracks. However, none of this can be found on I’ll Follow You, which can be baffling at first- because surely, The Rubyz is a children’s Christian band, right? Yet even now, the band has delivered I’ll Follow You with very little children’s clichés, even though all these singers are in their teenage years. In fact, dare I say that just by vocals alone, that this incarnation of the band is much less ‘children’ and a lot more ‘mature’…maybe even way mature beyond their teenage years? I reckon that if anyone else heard these tracks, and weren’t told that The Rubyz were all teenagers, they probably wouldn’t have guessed it. Maybe not. Nevertheless, these 5 songs are songs for this generation, as the familiar looping percussions and powerfully piercing vocals make their EP a must listen if you have enjoyed the previous reincarnation of the band, or if you enjoy artists like Jamie Grace or 1 Girl Nation.
The first radio single from the EP, “Breathtakingly Beautiful” is a song that even I can enjoy, and while the target audience is teenage girls, I find myself being reminded through the song of how much God adores and loves us, and that where we are at, we are still as beautiful then as before. With light electric guitars and a catchy hook, the song is an encouragement to stand out, to ‘…be bold, be brave, You are fearfully and wonderfully made, You are a story with a heartbeat, You are extraordinary, You are irreplaceable, a true original…’, and though this chorus is possibly initially sung to and for teenage girls, this is a message applicable to every other young (and old) person- that our worth is not determined by us, but by how God views and sees us- priceless. A great song if we are needing that reminder; the band continue to present unique musical undertones as songs from a variety of themes are placed at the fore.
“I’ll Follow You”, the title track, is a call for us to step out into the unknown, even if and when we don’t know what will happen next, as the song employs dance-electronics to bring in the younger listener; while “ONE” stands at 2:46 and presents the theme of how it takes only one person to spark a revolution, to change the world we live in, and then a ripple effect will go from there. “Live it Awake”, one of my favourites on the EP, is an encouragement to live out our lives in the light, to live it to the full and ‘…don’t keep your head in the sand, we’ve got to rise up and take up a stand, we can’t give up the fight, cause you know we can’t live life with our eyes closed, we gotta live it awake…’, and with great harmonies between the three leads, and light acoustics and an easy-to-sing melody; The Rubyz has another potential single on their hands, after “Breathtakingly Beautiful”. Ending the EP is the band’s special rendition of “Angels We Have Heard on High”, and though it’s only 2:32, the vocals and vocals alone of Tanner, Jessica and Addy ought to be reason enough for anyone who is a fan of the song to check out this version of it.
And that’s it, as we suddenly are enjoying the EP, it ends. Never have I thought I would’ve enjoyed a Rubyz album as I have this one. And that is saying something, considering that I’m sure the target listener was teenage, and a teenage girl nonetheless. This is a great introduction to the band if you are unfamiliar with the band’s previous work. In fact, their 2014 album VIP is a better indication of that- giving us 9 songs that span their career thus far. Though all the initial members have left to pursue other interests, Jessica, Tanner and Addy have taken up the mantle quite nicely. If this EP is as good as their subsequent offerings, then I’m sure The Rubyz will have a while to go yet in the CCM industry. Kudos to them for their songs, and here’s hoping there’ll be a full length album in the future.
3 songs to listen to: Awake, Breathtakingly Beautiful, ONE
RIYL: Jamie Grace, ZoeGirl, 1 Girl Nation, Superchick