- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Feb
- Count Me In
- Let It Out Now
- Enter This Temple
- Opposite Way
- Wake Up
- Beginning and the End
- Brighter Days
- Falling for You
- Don't Go Away
- Thief in the Night
- May Our Praise
Buzz for Leeland started months before the release of their debut Sound of Melodies, and has only continued in the 18 months since. Fellow recording artists can't help but gush, including Michael W. Smith (who collaborated heavily with lead singer Leeland Mooring for his Stand album, and is also now the proud father-in-law of keyboardist Jack Mooring). Additionally, Leeland recently opened on tour for Casting Crowns—only the most popular band in Christian music today—and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. Even our readers have been passionate; I've never received so many e-mails complaining that four out of five stars is an unfair review!
All of that in less than 2 years; not bad for a band whose members' ages range from 19 to 24. Yet Leeland already seems to have grown more mature and polished on their follow-up
Leeland has described this album as more message-oriented and less focused on corporate worship. I'm not so sure
Naturally, the title track is the most passionate and purposeful example of this, speaking to the tedium and anxiety felt by some youth: "Living in the same town for all these years/Doing the same old things, hanging with the same crowd/And it starts to get crippling … but something's different today/You want to run the opposite way." From there it effectively points to Jesus as the ultimate example of radical living, as does "Let It Out Now" with its declaration of faith: "I'm drawing the line between being them or being me/I'm not ashamed to call myself one of Yours, Lord." There are songs about the willingness to be used by God ("Count Me In") and showing love to the world ("Wake Up"), while "Don't Go Away" captures the excitement of a newly changed heart burning for Jesus after a mountaintop experience: "First comes salvation, then comes obsession/Fire starts with a flicker and consumes me."
There's nothing quite as strong as last album's "Sound of Melodies" and "Tears of the Saints," though the ballad "Enter This Temple" comes close, a short and simple prayer for God to transform our lives, and it's Leeland's best example of corporate worship to date with accessible lyrics and a soaring melody. "Thief in the Night" works almost as well, effectively using end-times language in a worshipful context. Strangely, that song is followed by the worshipful "May Our Praise," which has an identical grandiose Brit pop feel.
Therein lays one of the problems with
But then, this is unlikely to bother Leeland's ardent fans. I think producer Matt Bronleewe is on to something when he refers to the band's "innocently passionate" message and "intensely persuasive" delivery. There are some sectors in CCM that feel the industry has lost its way from the simpler, more straightforward faith exhibited by classic Christian rock bands. Leeland has a similar feel—a gospel band gone rock, relying on personalized expressions of the basic building blocks of the good news.