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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Make Me New

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Mar
Make Me New
Sounds like … a sophisticated mix of organic pop/rock along the lines of Bebo Norman, Andrew Peterson and Watermark with the folksy flavorings of Sara Groves, Rich Mullins, and Nickel CreekAt a glance … After the Chase offers vertically-tipped, socially conscious songwriting bathed in hearty harmonies, plus earthy production from Nate SabinTrack Listing Without Your Love I'll Be a Fool Make Me New In This Place We Wait Grateful Heart Apple of My Eye Second Chance Shine No More

It's been five years since husband wife/duo After the Chase released their self-titled debut, but Nathan (guitar, piano, vocals) and Jenna Strong (percussion, piano, vocals) have continued to chisel out their sound on the road since then. The Petaluma, California couple first rose to local fame as worship leaders before branching out into more full-fledged concert performances streaked with storytelling and dramatic accompaniment. All the while, the pair became mouthpieces for social justice and environmental awareness, themes that figure prominently into the Strongs' newest release.

For Make Me New, After the Chase enlisted the help of critically acclaimed producer Nate Sabin, best known for his work with Sara Groves and Jason Gray, though he's also been a bridge builder for many indie acts trying to make more professional inroads with the music industry. Though the Strongs aren't quite as advanced as Groves or the like-minded Derek Webb and Andrew Peterson, there's still plenty of charm throughout the project's ten cuts.

The radio single "I'll Be a Fool" (which was #29 on the CRW charts as of early September) takes inspiration from 1 Corinthians and possesses a world music mix that bears some resemblance to Rich Mullins throughout its acoustic introduction before progressing into a more eclectic jam a la Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints CD. "Make Me New" settles into a gentler folk/pop style with Nathan's vocals mirroring Bebo Norman, as Jenna supports with subdued but beautiful harmonies. Jenna later steps into the center spotlight with "In This Place," evoking Watermark's Christy Nockels or Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins as she emotionally and poetically praises the Lord for His "endless love and everlasting grace."

The trade off between worshipful expressions and personal reflections continues throughout "Second Chance," which is all about leaving baggage at the foot of the cross, while simultaneously rejoicing in the Lord's majesty. "We Wait" is the CD's primary mouthpiece for social equality, strewn with desperate cries of healing for the downtrodden. The tune also shows off Sabin's skillful production touches by starting off as a somber ballad before exploding with full band accompaniment beefed up by massive melodic layers.

Regardless of the topic tackled or stylistic framework, After the Chase took the proper time to cement their artistry, and are now certainly on par with the creative standards to find broader recognition through singer/songwriter circles and additional radio airplay.

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