Swallow the Ocean Finds Strength in Weakness
- Monday, April 29, 2013
Title: Swallow the Ocean
Label: HHM Records/NewSong Ministries
This reviewer still remembers a particularly painful youth group road trip that happened more than two decades ago—nine hours, ten dudes, and a single cassette in the tightly packed van to rock us from Tennessee to northern Ohio. There was no way that one-trick set (a cappella stuff with some guy doing mouth-based drum parts, not even beat-boxing) would satisfy each person’s varied musical tastes past the church parking lot.
Oh, to have had the latest NewSong album, Swallow the Ocean, instead. With seven members, three lead singers, and well-framed original songs that dabble convincingly in styles from adult contemporary and pop/rock to modern worship, there really is a little something for almost everyone here. And although the veteran group isn’t especially hip, its credible diversity explains why NewSong still holds a candle to the broad range of top acts (Skillet, tobyMac, Kari Jobe) who join its annual family-friendly Winter Jam tour.
Indeed, Swallow the Ocean is just as format-fitting as those sold-out shows have become. You want something that sounds relatively younger and a little edgy? First cut “All We Need” and the title track have got that covered with input from it producer Seth Mosley (Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline). Maybe you miss the high quality output from Avalon and 4Him that used to rule Christian music airwaves. “Choose to Love,” “As It Is in Heaven,” and “In Jesus’ Name” more than ably recall that time without sounding dated.
When the mood for on-your-feet praise music hits, the triumphant “Every Victory” and a reverent cover of “In Christ Alone” are good to go. And for a lesson in how to age gracefully as a band, check out the performance dynamics on the mellow “Could It Be” and more effusive “Who Loved You First.”
NewSong has a broad musical range, but the message is always straight down the middle—another great thing about Swallow the Ocean. Themes of Christ’s sacrifice (“All We Need”), the power of love (“Choose to Love”), sharing the gospel (“Our Reward”), and finding strength in weakness (“Could It Be”) are clear and strong throughout the record and speak to seekers and long-time believers alike.
Perhaps most notably, NewSong lets the message lead by packaging an extra give-away disc with each hard copy of Swallow the Ocean, asking fans to “pray about who God might have you share the music with.” Amen to that! Well done, NewSong.
*This Article First Published 4/29/2013
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