Greater depth can be found in the rock ballad "All at War," one of the band's best songs to date, smartly addressing the contradictions we feel inside wrestling with our sinful nature: "I'm learning to stand the more I fall down/It's the law of inversion, and it's all turned around/And I'm staggered by the clash inside my soul/So purposed for good, but inclined for evil." Though "Cathedral Made of People" has an odd-yet-obvious title, it goes beyond noting how the church is more than a building by also causing listeners to consider how they would respond to persecution.

In "The Problem," Downhere sounds like they've written a Christian folk-protest song, or perhaps something Johnny Cash could have performed (even if Marc Martel's tenor is the opposite of Cash's world-worn bass), offering a cleverly worded explanation for the pain in this life that eventually gets to the cause of original sin. And "Beggar Who Gives Alms" is best left to explain itself as a beautiful depiction of the relationship between Creator and created.

Downhere pushes new depths musically as well. "My Last Amen" stands out for mixing a little bit of Maroon 5 funk in the bass with a lot of Electric Light Orchestra in the harmonies and overall pop bombast, as Martel and Jason Germain both sing about the tension between this world and the world to come: "I could swear I have two hearts/One to stay, one to depart/This sad, tragic kingdom/And it burns me down to the core/Because I know there's so much more/It's just a pale reflection." There's something rather arresting about the art rock feel in "Live for You," while "Coming Back Home" depicts a prodigal's change of heart with an elegant pop shuffle befitting of Queen. And that rising melody in the chorus of "Hope Is Rising" is marvelous to begin with, somewhat reminiscent of Coldplay's "Fix You," but it only becomes more powerful once the choir and strings kick in.

Rather than go overboard with the hyperbole, let's just say that Martel and Germain are one of the best songwriting duos we've got in Christian music. Indeed, it's become increasingly hard to distinguish where one ends and the other begins in the creative process. Plus their voices continue to play off each other superbly, Germain's warmth a perfect contrast to Martel's high-end acrobatics. But let's not leave out the rhythm section of bassist Glenn Lavender and drummer Jeremy Thiessen either—by now, Downhere would not be the same without their varied foundation to build on. They've all grown into a well-oiled machine.

Their best album so far? In many ways, yes, though each Downhere album has had its share of pop/rock highpoints. At the very least, Ending Is Beginning further cements the band's place in Christian music for their artful expressions of our faith. Downhere has hit their stride with this album, and assuming that their following continues to grow, it appears that we can expect continued excellence from them for years to come.

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