aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

The Sleeping House

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Oct
The Sleeping House
Sounds like … ambient, alternative pop/rock recalling bands such as Radiohead, Sleeping at Last, The Choir, Sigur Ros, and Starflyer 59. At a glance … The Sleeping House isn't as polished as previous efforts from Cool Hand Luke, but it is equally thoughtful and well-performed, stirring the soul with transparently spiritual lyrics that challenge you to consider your beliefs and convictions. Track Listing Fast Asleep Cast Your Bread Failing in Love Buy the Truth The Mirror Eye of the Storm The City Prevails Spirit Sing Wonder Tour The House The Incomprehensible Sleep Wide Awake

I mistakenly assumed Cool Hand Luke was finished. After all, it's been four years since they released their last original recording, The Fires of Life. Since then, two of the trio's original members have moved on to pursue other interests. Moreover, the band's label Floodgate Records folded during the 2007 release of The Balancing Act (a rather disappointing hodgepodge retrospective).

Turns out there's still life to Cool Hand Luke thanks to core member Mark Nicks (vocals, keyboards, drums), who has since teamed up with guitarist Joey Holman and bassist Casey McBride to continue via indie label Lujo Records. With all due respect to the former band mates, their absence doesn't cause any significant difference in Cool Hand Luke's sound on The Sleeping House. Thanks to Nicks and company, it remains well-performed alternative pop in keeping with the ambience of the previous Floodgate releases. Pounding drums and guitar textures add to the mellow piano base, drawing obvious comparisons to Radiohead, Sigur Ros, The Choir, and Sleeping at Last. If anything, the overall production isn't quite as bright compared to the other albums—perhaps evidence that the band is operating on a tighter recording budget—but that's more an observation than a drawback.

What continues to set the band apart is Nicks' transparent Christian songwriting, which ironically seems even more overt here than the albums with the more Christian-music-focused Floodgate Records. Bookending the album with the instrumentals "Fast Asleep" and "Wide Awake," there's clearly a theme about awakening to the realities of Christian living in a world filled with distractions and temptations. "Cast Your Bread" opens by exploring Ecclesiastes 11:1 to point to the Bread of Life, while "Failing in Love" delves into speaking the truth in love, even when it's hard to do so, and "Buy the Truth" reminds us that Christianity isn't about comfort and security.

After further exploring topics like identity ("The Mirror") and death ("Eye of the Storm"), the album rounds out with a string of prayer songs asking God to make his voice clear ("Spirit Sing"), overcome the lies of the world ("Wonder Tour"), free us from sin ("The House"), and keep us from complacency ("The Incomprehensible Sleep"). Pretty weighty stuff for an album being marketed broadly to Christian and mainstream listeners alike. And though some will find the evangelical expressions a little too earnest, Nicks is simply being open and honest.

Hopefully Nicks will continue to broaden his metaphors with future releases, since this album could have just as easily been titled Wake Up, O Sleeper (their 2003 national debut). Regardless, The Sleeping House is another excellent effort on par with Cool Hand Luke's best work—reason enough to be thankful that they're not done yet.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.