City On A Hill Studios
Release Date: September 23rd 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- The Song (Awaken Love) – Alan Powell
- Son of a King – Alan Powell
- Kentucky Voice – Ricky Skaggs
- Split the Baby – Alan Powell
- You Made Me Love You – Taylor Walling
- Can’t Hold On (Jed) – Alan Powell
- I Love You Truly – Jill Paquette
- Confetti – Caitlin Nicol-Thomas
- All I Wanna Be – Alan Powell, Caitlin Nicol-Thomas
- Falling Like Stars – Caitlin Nicol-Thomas
- Ooh’s and Ahh’s – NEEDTOBREATHE
- A Prayer in Open D – Emmylou Harris
- Chasing after the Wind – Alan Powell
- Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There Is A Season) – Roger McGuinn, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs
- End of the Matter – Alan Powell
Alan Powell from Anthem Lights has always been known, since 2011 when the band formed, as one of the most eloquent, passionate and honest pop singers. And as the chief songwriter of Anthem Lights (with the band having released their 2011 self titled album, this year’s You Have My Heart and the upcoming Escape releasing in October), it is a unexpected but welcome change to hear and see Alan Powell in something different. Releasing at the end of the month is The Song– a film where Alan makes his full length acting debut, portraying a country singer Jed, who becomes famous after writing a hit song for his wife. It’s a modern day Ecclesiastes story with Jed loosely based on the role of Solomon, and a great chance for Alan to show us what has been placed by God on his heart- another medium of showing God’s love that he is venturing into alongside his presence in Anthem Lights.
As an accompaniment to The Song, the film soundtrack releases to stores on September 23rd; and though these 15 tracks, which are mostly sung by Alan and co-star Caitlin Nicol-Thomas, are not that worshipful or Christ centered; they do make us think about the life of Solomon, and whether our life is mirroring his, or instead are we being the men and women God intended for us to be. I’m not sure if this album would be better served listening to first before the film, or after the film; however it’s nice to hear Alan sing something different, and it’s an experience and a half, for me at least, to hear something outside of my comfort zone. With honest lyrics, and plenty of mainstream and country artists reminding me that life with family and loved ones shouldn’t be taken for granted and instead treasured; the 60 minute musical and lyrical rollercoaster is sure to raise a heap of questions, and remind us of the more important things in life as well!
Opening the track list is the title track, sung by Alan, probably the single. Driven by acoustic guitar, and later on with banjo and other country styled instruments joining in; this song is the cornerstone of the movie. Actually almost all of the songs are inspired by events in the film, yet it is this upbeat and jovial country/folk song that means the most as it speaks about the commitment between a man and his wife. Rooted in Song Of Songs, which was written by Solomon, “The Song (Awaken Love)” is the track that propels Jed, Alan Powell’s character, to fame. It’s ironic as that was the song that drove Jed and his family apart. However, on face value, the song is inspiring and encouraging, and should move many. In fact I think that in essence the song is telling us to stay close to our faith and to God, as well as to our loved ones no matter what comes our way, and that is something I admire and respect.
With many tracks actually taken from the film, others written especially for the film and the rest taken from the artist’s studio albums; all of Alan Powell’s contributions have him singing in the persona of Jed. The minute and a half long acoustic guitar led track “Son Of A King” is present at the beginning of the film when Jed sings in a bar, and delves into whether we are who are parents are, or if we can carve out our own different path, while the tongue in cheek acoustic guitar prominent “Split The Baby” is Jed’s first song that he sung to Rose in a live setting, and in the lyrics asks the question of why they can’t date, also listing off reasons why he is better than her ex-boyfriend, who was also present in the audience in the film.
The acoustic guitar driven “Can’t Hold On” is the song that made Jed King’s father famous, that basically speaks about a longing for someone to be with us when we fall down, when we can’t hold on, while the introspective and reflective acoustic guitar ballad “Chasing After Wind” has Alan (as Jed) and ourselves questioning whether the pursuit of our possessions and worldly desires is meaningful and worth our time and effort. It is the chorus that immediately strikes a chord, as the words are sung ‘…what do we mean if nothing has meaning, if in the end, we’re chasing after wind?…’; and this track will surely pose questions and hopefully change our perspective in thinking about the important things in life. “End Of The Matter” has Alan concluding that love is the standard and the end of the matter in how we measure if we live a good life or not, as well as remembering God and loving Him, as ‘…He’s carved a mark in our hearts we’re never gonna comprehend…’, and the final song Alan contributes is a duet with Caitlin Nicol-Thomas.
“All I Wanna Be”, in relation to the movie, is when Jed and Shelby sing a stirring and haunting duet, led by acoustic guitar, violin, and other strings, where they both sing about longing for and wanting to be in the presence of their loved ones. That is the only thing that their personas believe is important at that point in time. In the movie, this is the point where Jed emotionally cheats on Rose with Shelby, therefore as a moral compass this song when compared to the movie’s events shouldn’t be used as a tool to teach young kids how to act. But as a song alone it’s very touching and reminds us how a love from a man to a woman (or vice versa) should be. Caitlin Nicol-Thomas (as Shelby) also offers up two songs on her own on this soundtrack. “Confetti” is a fast paced rocker led by guitars and strings (though the lyrics aren’t that inspiring- which is expected as Shelby in the film isn’t the most moral person!), while the acoustic guitar ballad “Falling Like Stars” is a love song ballad that beautifully portrays the love experienced between two people, that is only a fraction of God’s immense love for us.
The rest of the album features songs recorded by established artists, and these inclusions boost the enjoyability of the album (which in facts makes more sense if you have seen the film prior to listening to the album!). Country legend Ricky Skaggs lends his voice to “Kentucky Voice”, a souther gospel melody that has the main persona reminiscing about his enjoyable nostalgic times in his hometown, reminding us also that we need to cherish our life on this earth, especially in our childhood hometown, as that will always have special meaning for each one of us. Taylor Walling and Jill Paquette both contribute songs (“You Made Me Love You”, and “I Love You Truly”) that are present in the movie, that both outline Jed’s love for Rose, while Emmylou Harris sings “Prayer in Open D”, an acoustic guitar led ballad that gently reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, while using imagery and metaphors throughout the song to subtly and covertly preach the gospel.
Rockers NEEDTOBREATHE contribute also with “Oohs and Aahs”, a hard hitting rocker that convincingly asserts the fact that if we have our songs within us, and our dreams brimming with ideas and hopes, then we have everything we ever needed; yet the track that is sure to garner attention and notice is the song “Turn, Turn, Turn”. Sung by Emmylou Harris, Roger McGuinn and Ricky Skaggs; this old school Scripture in song hymn like melody, based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, puts life in perspective and speaks about choosing the right moments to act a certain way, and also praying to God for guidance to show you those right moments. A song that will be timeless until Jesus comes back, this song is sure to penetrate the heart of even the most hardened person; and no doubt will draw someone to Christ. Well done everyone involved with all of these 15 songs- these songs definitely show us the main themes and message of the film- that we all need to acknowledge God and seek his kingdom first before anything else.
As a soundtrack to a movie, this may not make sense before watching the film, but The Song Album (Music From The Motion Picture) is professionally recorded and skillfully crafted. It may not be a Christian album per se, but God is reference throughout and these songs will make you think about life. I would recommend the album to those wanting to dive and dig deeper into The Song, however if soundtracks aren’t your cup of tea, then never fear- many of these songs are scattered throughout the movie anyway. So it’s really up to you, but in my opinion, I would listen to the album, and support the films that make Jesus famous. Well done everyone involved, including Alan Powell and Caitlin Nichol-Thomas!
3 songs to listen to: The Song (Awaken Love), Turn Turn Turn, Chasing The Wind
RIYL: Carman, John Waller, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman