Thursday, August 18, 2011

Downhere: On the Altar of Love Review

After two years since their Ending Is Beginning project, the Canadian pop group Downhere is back with their anticipated Centricity Music record, On The Altar of Love. With this project, Downhere hopes to bring to the listener’s attention the fact that we have all been passed “the torch,” of the gospel, so to speak. We have all heard the gospel from someone else, and it’s due to their story that we have the privilege of passing the torch on. Even with a deep message such as this, Downhere manages to deliver a refreshing twelve-track pop album, featuring the hit “Let Me Rediscover You.”

Downhere stays true to their familiar pop sound with “The Beginning,” which seemed to connect Ending is Beginning to this new Downhere project remarkably well. It reminds the listener that their past is gone, and this is a new beginning and a new start in Christ Jesus. “Rest,” a somewhat simple song, is based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28, speaking of coming to Jesus to find rest for our weary souls.

The more solemn piano ballad, “Let Me Rediscover You,” is a song of lament, crying to God and asking Him to revive us and help us rediscover what it truly means to live for Him. This gorgeous track  featured amazing vocals from both Marc and Jason and even a few remarkably high parts that made for a perfect song altogether with amazing lyrics. “Turn This Around” speeds up things again, featuring Marc’s low vocals, mixed with Jason’s perfect harmonies, and had very innovative lyrics, thanking God for how He turns things around in our life for good, even when the devil means it for evil.

The saxophone-beginning “Living The Dream” tells the story of several people who have lost their dreams and are in a state of confusion, but answers these problems by stating that “everyday comes with the promise that it could be great if we want, and we are living the dream”; it encourages the listener to make the most of every breath they have to make a change. Based on Isaiah 55, “Seek” is a very Biblical track, inviting us to seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is near.

“Glory By the Way of Shame” slows things down again, where Jason’s very low vocals present a narrative Prodigal Son track, telling the story of a 17-year-old runaway and a man who has been cheated in relationships, and tells how they return home to amazing grace – glory by the way of shame. Marc’s vocals also present a perfect background fill-in for this peaceful and encouraging song. “Holy,” backed up by gorgeous strings, reminded me immediately of a previous Downhere track, “The Beggar Who Gives Alms,” and is a timeless track of praise, made perfect by a combination of Bible passages – from Hebrews, Genesis, and Revelation.

The more upbeat “For The Heartbreak,” sung mostly by Marc, had an interesting set of lyrics, uniquely thanking God that the struggles we face in life make us stronger in Him: “Thank You for the heartbreak/ Thank You for the pain/ Thank You for the sadness on the gloomy days of rain/ Thank You that the hard times have a reason in life/ Thank You that the healing makes the beauty shine/ Thank You for the heartbreak!” Lyrically, this would have to be one of the top highlights from On The Altar of Love. “For Love,” more contemporary, acting somewhat transitionally, is a prayer for a miracle, asking God to take our mess and turn it around: “I’m asking for a miracle because I believe/ Only You can turn this around/ I’m at the end and falling fast/ a moment to redeem/ Only You can turn this around.” The bridge was absolutely gorgeous, borrowing lyrics from Isaiah 53.

The title track followed, at first sounding a bit haunting musically – mostly guitar-picking with strings and a bit of country sounding drums. Building nicely by the bridge, “On the Altar of Love” speaks of dying to ourselves to find new life in Jesus at the altar of love. A bit of mandolins and a string mixture make for a western-sounding track, and one that is thoroughly enjoyable. The prayerful, slower closing track “Reveal the Kingdom” is an anthem for an eternal kingdom, as the group described the track. The beautiful strings and gorgeous melody of the chorus could almost make this track a Christmas song, as it closes On the Altar of Love on a tranquil, worshipful mode.

It’s been a while since we’ve heard new music from Downhere, and On the Altar of Love is an amazing return project! Featuring several musically fun tracks such as “Living the Dream” and “For the Heartbreak,” to the serious and worshipful “Let Me Rediscover You,” and “Reveal the Kingdom,” On the Altar of Love is an amazingly creative album, featuring outstanding lyrics that build up Christians in their walk with the Lord.

Rating: 4/5
Release date: August 23, 2011

Track listing:
1. Only the Beginning
2. Rest
3. Let Me Rediscover You
4. For Life
5. Living the Dream
6. Seek
7. Glory By the Way of Shame
8. Holy
9. For the Heartbreak
10. Turn this Around
11. On the Altar of Love
12. Reveal the Kingdom

1 comment:

  1. I like the three songs I have heard from this album. It should be a good album from Downhere. Looking forward to listening it as soon as I can.


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