When Peter Furler announced his resignation from Newsboys, many people (myself included) thought that Newsboys remained in shambles. How could the Aussie leave this renowned band? Furthermore, who would replace him? When Peter announced that Michael Tait from dcTalk would be the replacement, we all remained skeptical of how this project would turn out. Soon after, we heard Michael perform “Glorious” from In the Hands of God, and decided we needed further music to decide whether or not this would work. In January of 2010, Newsboys gave us five tracks in the Born Again: Special Preview EP (“When The Boys Light Up,” “One Shot,” “Born Again,” “I’ll Be,” and “On Your Knees”). We all decided that this would work after all, and we greatly anticipated when the final project would be released in mid-July. Now, Born Again is here, and the final judgment remains in our hands as to the fate of Newsboys.
Born Again begins aptly with the title track. Becoming a blockbuster track that has spent several weeks at #1, “Born Again” speaks of the changed life we experience through the free gift of Jesus Christ. This upbeat track, which still retains the familiar Newsboys sound, assured fans that the band was headed in the right direction.
“One Shot” follows “Born Again,” and is another upbeat poppy track. It encourages fans to use their “one shot/ to prove what they’re all about” and adds that “when push comes to shove/ I’m gonna sing of His love!” This track appeals to the younger generation with its rhetoric: “Things change/ just like the twitter that you update/ or the Facebook status on your front page/ but there’s no comment you can leave to change my mind.” “Way Beyond Myself” has an awesome disco sound combined with a powerful drumbeat. Its lyrics again speak of the power of God and how He changed us: “Like the wind that moved the leaves/ Lord, You moved me to my knees/ I’m giving in to something way beyond myself.” In my opinion, “Way Beyond Myself” was the best track on the record, and seemed to combine the sounds of Tait and Newsboys into one receivable style.
"Impossible" is a slower, pop song actually written by Rock City. The lyrics of this song celebrate the fact that “with You I can do the impossible.” Things speed up again with “When The Boys Light Up,” which tells the story of Michael Tait taking the place of former front man Peter Furler: “All the doubters/ I heard ‘em say/ another band’s gonna fade away/ but we’re back for a second act/ no excuses/ we’re lighting fuses.”
"Build Us Back" is a beautiful worship song written by Mark Stuart of Audio A. Written in remembrance of the damaging earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, “Build Us Back” has also been used to commemorate the Nashville floodings. The powerful lyrics encourage singing along: “When the thief takes/ when our hopes cave/ You build us back!” The highlight of this song is the bridge: “Redeemer/ redeem us/ Restorer/ restore us!/ Though the mountains be shaken/ the hills be removed/ Your unfailing love remains/ after all has been taken/ Your blood will still save us/ You build us back with precious stones.”
“Escape” is similar to Newsboys’ Thrive style, mostly because Tait’s “ooh”s sound like Peter! This track is definitely one that will connect with fans of the band, and is a definite fist-thrower: “If you get up/ get up/ nothing can overtake/ don’t wait/ escape!” “Miracles” sounds a bit like “My Friend Jesus” from In The Hands of God, although the rhythm is much more upbeat. The band shares that the change in our life is “more than metaphysical” because they “believe in miracles.” After the bridge, the track carries a short lead guitar high note which I really enjoyed.
“Running To You” is another slower worship song. Featuring cool keyboard sounds, this song commemorates the shelter we find in the arms of Christ: “When everything is broken/ there’s a door wide open/ You’ll find me running through/ more than just emotion/ my broken heart is chosen/ Jesus, I’m running to You.” I loved the way that Michael Tait can be heard echoing “I’m running, running to You” in the transition between verses. “On Your Knees,” one of the five originals from the EP, tells the story of a girl who finds a piece of paper floating around and picks it up to read an encouraging note that brings her to her knees at her local church. It’s a cool story with a typical contemporary beat (“When your heart breaks, He’ll hurt for you/ When you’re out of reach, He’ll pull You through/ When you lose hope/ all You’ve gotta do is get on your knees again…”).
I was actually surprised that Newsboys chose to remake “Mighty To Save” on their latest album, especially because all the other songs were brand new. But then again, because “Lead Me to the Cross” was featured on In The Hands of God, it seems as though Newsboys intends to keep this trend up. This version was definitely one of the most powerful I’ve heard, mostly because of Tait’s booming voice.
Last on Born Again is the dcTalk smash hit “Jesus Freak.” In place of TobyMac for the rap sections is KJ-52 who did a bang-up job. Room for improvement, however, is the fact that KJ’s voice was a little too quiet after the first line. This track is definitely one that makes Newsboys fans proud of the Michael Tait change. The track itself does not sound any different from dcTalk, yet it combines dcTalk and Newsboys into one track.
Well, folks, if you had told me a year ago that Michael Tait would have been the lead singer for the Newsboys and that it would sound twice as good as the existing sound, I would simply not have believed you. But with Born Again, Newsboys has been “reborn” in a sense – new lead singer, new style, and even a new type of lyrics. This could be called the best thing that ever happened to Newsboys. The whole album is filled with a message of the power of Christ changing our lives, and even contains strong beats to reinforce that fact. This is an awesome album!