Monday, April 4, 2011

The Ember Days-Your Eyes Light Up

The Ember Days is a musician's band. From their songs it is evident that they give more attention to guitar tone and technical details than the average pop band. The Ember Days doesn't go for pop songs with catchy choruses (which in the Christian music world become pop songs with endless choruses). Instead, they prefer to stay in their own niche, alternating anthemic rock songs with more piano driven, ambient songs. The band is mainly the project of the husband-and-wife team of Jason and Janell Belcher (What an unfortunate last name.) Their first CD features three vocalists, the two mentioned above, and a third, the soft-voiced Eliot Norton, who is no longer a member of the band.

The Album.

The songs on the record sound like the band took their time writing them, as opposed to just slapping together a song with a few chords and a riff stolen from U2. The guitar tone is almost perfect, the drumming is technically skilled, and put together, they sound excellent. The best songs on the album, though, are the slower, more ambient songs sung by Janell, such as "Cocoon", "Love Song", and "Dreaming." Unfortunately, these are the least overtly spiritual. Musically, though, they sound like nothing I've ever before, and it would be worth buying the album just to hear those few.

 Lyrically, there's no mistaking where The Ember Days are coming from. Unlike some Christian bands that try to be as vague as possible, (I'm looking at you, Switchfoot), The Ember Days are explicit about their faith. However, they have a propensity to devolve into evangelical mushiness and questionable lyrics. In "Chasing the Wind", a song from the viewpoint of Jesus, Eliot Norton sings "Please don't ever say you don't need me, 'cos I need you." This doesn't quite square up with Biblical theology. YHWH is a Trinity-the Father enjoys perfect fellowship with the Son and the Spirit and so on. God did not need to create man, or to send his Son to die for them, which makes God's love even more amazing. It's also a little disconcerting to hear, in "Love Song", lyrics like "Your beautiful eyes holding mine won't let go, for in them I've found a home", which are ostensibly about Jesus. It doesn't seem very reverent to talk about Jesus like he is your boyfriend. Sorry to be the cranky Presbyterian here.
The band in its current lineup. The guy with the mustache is Jason Belcher, who bears a surprising resemblence to Mario.
  Even weirder is the screaming in "Selah." It's out of place, especially given the more upbeat nature of the song, and seems more like a bone thrown to the hardcore kid audience than anything else. It would probably fit more if the song was "The Wrath of God Descends Upon The Unrepentant Unbelievers", which sounds very Presbyterian, and will probably appear on some CREC-approved worship album. The rock songs are a little repetitive, and Jason's voice gets a little strained on the choruses, while Janell's is underused.
I criticize bands, and yet they still let me take my picture with them. :-)

 Now that I'm done attacking this musical bull elephant with a squirt gun, I will go on to say that The Ember Days are a great example of giving up your life for Christ. If they were a secular band, they would be a smash, at least in a sane world. If they did Christian pop anthems, they would be all over KLove. Instead, they take the path of most resistance, spiritually and musically, and crafted a musically worthy first album where their passion for the Lord is clearly evident in their songs. For that, I congratulate them, and recommend them to you.
     You can visit their website here. Not only are The Ember Days accomplished and talented musicians, they are also very generous and they give away all their music for free download. You should probably donate to them, because musicians are poor, and also because their van is legendary for breaking down.

1 comment:

  1. I have a picture the Beatles took with Nick in 63. I treasure it.