We Are Messengers – The Hills of Tyrone

Word Label Group

Release Date: February 24th 2023

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

We Are MessengersThe Hills of Tyrone (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Just To Be With You
  2. Hills of Tyrone
  3. Seasons
  4. Slow Down
  5. Father Will You Hold My Hand
  6. Older
  7. Oiche Mhaith

We Are Messengers (essentially lead singer-songwriter Darren Mulligan’s moniker as he creates music as a one-man band) has been a band that is relatively unassuming- they aren’t as ‘grand’, ‘big’ or even as popular as their contemporaries like For KING & COUNTRY, Big Daddy Weave, Natalie Grant, Meredith Andrews, Francesca Battistelli, The Afters, Phil Wickham, or even TobyMac, We the Kingdom or Skillet, to name a few. They make music without a fuss- delivering standout songs throughout the years like ‘Everything Comes Alive’, ‘Point to You’, ‘Magnify’, ‘Maybe It’s Ok’, ‘Power’, ‘Love’, ‘Image Of God’, ‘God You Are’ and ‘Come What May’, to name a few. They’re a group, originally from Ireland, that have reminded us all, that you don’t necessarily have to be from the U S of A to be popular (or even from Britian, for that matter). Darren Mulligan has delivered the band’s first three albums with much grace, poise, passion, heart, enthusiasm, and hope, as these songs tug at our own hearts and create something that is far different, unique, and exciting than what CCM currently has to offer. Now on the heels of their chart-topping collaborative single ‘Wholehearted’ (featuring rapper KB), as well as their Christmas EP Saviour last year, we see something new from Darren and co.- this time it’s a 7 song EP Hills of Tyrone, an ode, and a homage from Darren to his hometown of Ireland.

Hills of Tyrone is perhaps a gateway, a window if you must. A way to look and see how life in Ireland could be like. How life in Ireland has shaped Darren in his music. How life in Ireland, in some ways, can be ‘slower paced’ than the life we live in U.S.A., Britain or even Australia…and maybe that’s a good thing, to see that there are some places we can go and retreat, to ‘slow’ our lives down, in a way for us to understand that we don’t have to live the busy lives we’ve been inundated with? Hills of Tyrone is a personal collection by Darren as a way of calling back to his Irish roots. The seven songs are a compilation- affectionate and love songs for his wife, wisdom tracks that can pass on knowledge and know-how to his children, as well as some traditional Irish-styled hymns so that we can know that the country of Ireland was indeed founded on Biblical truths, something that is very much true of almost every western civilisation and nation around the world.

Hills of Tyrone is nostalgic for Darren himself, and I’m sure recording this EP would’ve been emotional for Darren himself. ‘Just To Be With You’ starts off the EP with a rousing, upbeat declaratory statement, complete with light acoustics and maybe even a hammered Dulcimer thrown in for good measure. The song itself is an ode to the love that Darren and his wife have, with Darren stating in the chorus, that ‘…I’ll cross the world, just to be with you…’ These words ought not to be taken lightly, with this song hopefully being a catalyst for to see within each of us- who do we love so much that we can cross the world for…there has to be someone, right? ‘Hills of Tyrone’ is literally a place where Darren himself grew up, and this song is a great reminder, that the places and environments that shaped our childhood evoke a lot of nostalgia, and is a much needed in a persona’s life, as well as the places and environment that they are living in now. Sometimes, to gain perspective, respect, empathy and connection, often a retreat back to childhood places can do just the trick. ‘Seasons’ comes along afterward, and challenges us to understand and believe, that seasons in life are just that- seasons. They come and go, and nothing lasts forever. To not get too comfortable in this life we lead, because the thing about seasons is this- that with each passing season, is another one closer to when we go back home to heaven- eternally. Let us not become too attached to the here and now, and maybe, ‘Seasons’ can hopefully challenge us to do just that?

‘Slow Down’ is a track where it’s message is this- that whatever troubles and difficulties come, if we slow down and take a step back, and understand that we’re in this all, together…then the difficulties we face aren’t that difficult. They aren’t as big in the grand scheme of things (when we look and see what is going on with the world), and that if money can be thrown at a problem to make it better, than it’s not that big of a problem. ‘Slow Down’ longs for us to quieten down our hearts, to steady our minds, and to live life without any sense of anxiety- because those things aren’t really going to change whatever the outcome. Darren references to ‘Johnny’ in the chorus- now I know I haven’t heard anything of Johnny Cash and his music…perhaps Johnny’s music overall is is the kind that’ll slow down individuals, full stop? Maybe. ‘Father Will You Hold My Hand’, a modern-style hymn, was written by Darren Mulligan and Daniel Doss, and is a great modern-day ‘hymn’, that can hopefully be one for the history books (following songs like ‘In Christ Alone’, ‘King of Kings’ or ‘Liivng Hope’)- in it, Darren delivers powerful Biblical truths, as we collectively declare to ‘…praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit, three in one, through Your power I overcome, praise the Father, Spirit, Son…’ The EP is then rounded out with ‘Older’ and ‘Oiche Mhaith’- the former (‘Older’) is a string and keyboard prominent melody about understanding that time waits for no man, but we ought to thank the Lord, for the people around us, who are getting older with us, as we appreciate the people in our lives over the us; while the latter (‘Oiche Mhaith’) is Darren’s personal writing to his children and significant other, with the literal translating of the song title (from Gaelic) means ‘Good Night’. It’s an expression of love and gratitude to the ones you love and the ones who love you back. It’s a way of showing people you care for them, and what better way to do it, than through an end-of-the-day night-style prayer?

So there you go…Hills of Tyrone. It’s not your typical worship album. Nor your typical pop album. It’s somewhere in between…? Or maybe it’s just a personal record that harkens back to Darren’s childhood? Whateve the case, this offering of 7 songs is a welcomed surprise. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll evoke nostalgia in me as well. Who knows, maybe after hearing this EP, I’ll check out my primary school and high school, and really reflect on my life thus far in the environments I’ve lived in. Maybe some kind of travel in the future? Who knows. Well done Darren for this nostalgic record (for yourself). Maybe people can search their own lives (through the avenue of hearing this EP) in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.

3 songs to listen to: Just To Be With You, Father Will You Hold My Hand, Slow Down

Score: 4.5/5

RIYL: Delirious?, Philippa Hanna, Rend Collective, Tenth Avenue North, Martin Smith, Casting Crowns

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