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On the Brink of It All

  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Mar
On the Brink of It All
Sounds like … atmospheric emo rock reminiscent of Anberlin, Dashboard Confessional, Panic! At the Disco, and MaeAt a glance … with buoyant production values and a slew of catchy songs, Ever Stays Red is on the brink of breakout band statusTrack Listing Rocks and Reeds On the Brink of it All To Shine For You Can't Explain Run Love So Loud Bright Eyes Life in the Fire Glorious Say What You Will Look to the Hills Letters

Ever Stays Red has faced plenty of the usual struggles in its four-year rise in the indie circuit—changing lineups, changing labels, and the ever-changing rules of success in the music business. Yet Ever Stays Red sounds no worse for the wear on their third album, On the Brink of It All. In fact, they only seem to have improved with time through a busy touring schedule, a standout lead singer, and a crop of well-written songs.

Most modern rock albums today sound overproduced, but Brink ultimately succeeds because energetic tracks like "Bright Eyes" and "Can't Explain" keep the rawness of a live act without sounding as rough as a garage band. It's a delicate balance, but Ever Stays Red has electric production values going for them in spades, making the album engaging for the full 12-track duration.

While I always enjoy another female-fronted rock band, Ever Stays Red's new lead singer Dustin Carlson more than makes up for the departure of Grace Amankwe. With vocals that occasionally resemble Brendan Urie (Panic! At the Disco), he ultimately has an emotive style all his own. Carlson's decisive delivery, along with a surplus of gorgeous harmonies, gives melodic gems like "Run" and "Life in the Fire" their underlying soul.

Then again, it certainly doesn't hurt to have clever songwriting either. The band's takes on worship ("To Shine or You," "Glorious") and redemption ("Life in the Fire," "Say What You Will") are less straightforward than the average Christian radio hits, but it's an approach that makes them more poetic and intriguing with plenty of cleverly crafted hooks. Rather than going for a predictable turn of phrase and a spoon-fed message, the band opts for more abstract reflections, providing the listener the opportunity to uncover the meaning of the songs on their own—a welcome change of pace in today's Christian rock climate.

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