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JFH Staff Review


Newsboys, Born Again: Special Preview EP
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Newsboys
Born Again Special Preview EP



Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 5 tracks
Street Date: January, 2010


When was the last time we heard so much about the Newsboys? With the well-publicized exit of longtime singer Peter Furler and entrance of dc Talker Michael Tait as the new lead vocalist, the Newsboys made headlines about this sudden and surprising personnel change. But with the push for a new album, one would ask what affect the new singer will have on the end result releasing this June, titled Born Again. For those who attend this year's Winter Jam tour, they can find an early answer in a special preview EP sold exclusively on the tour.

Right from the start, "Born Again" blasts through with an uncompromising pop flare. This is the first original Newsboys song ever with Michael Tait on the microphone, and it's an epic experience to hear for the first time, to say the least. It's a straightforward, but appropriate, opener to the EP, as well as one of the better tracks. "On Your Knees" follows, contrasting the former track with a simple ballad about a girl discovering her need for Christ. "When the Boys Light Up" and "One Shot" continue with energy and unmistakable Newsboys-catchiness that scream "showstopper," while "I'll Be" is another slower ballad that efficiently exercises Tait's vocal range and scope. Overall, the vocal quality has not been sacrificed, with Tait still in his prime; it's truly remarkable to see Tait still holding his own after all these years, and it's great to have his talent back in the game.

As a whole, this EP's five new tracks really demonstrate what a whole new direction the Newsboys are taking. After one listen, it should be obvious to the listener that when Furler left the band, he took a distinctive sound with him, and this reviewer would be lying to say Tait continues the Newsboys vibe where it left off. Gone are the pop rock worship-based melodies that made these Australians successful, as well as the clever, sometimes bizarre, lyrical musings Furler made famous. Instead, we are treated to an extremely radio-friendly pop sound without any absence of edginess and attitude backed by a whole new voice to the band. It's a textbook example of why replacing the lead singer can be so affecting to a band's original sound; these songs were written with a brand new musical philosophy, as well as the addition of Tait's vocals, in mind. This isn't to say that this dramatic change is an inherently negative one, but anyone expecting just a "Furler-less" Newsboys will be getting more than for what they bargained.

Lyrically, this EP is a mixed bag. "Born Again" has a message that's not all that unique, but it's hard not to like its simplicity and anthem-sized vision. "On Your Knees" and "I'll Be" also do an effective job of avoiding tackiness while delivering inspiration and thoughtfulness. However, "When The Boys Light Up" and especially "One Shot" have a few pitfalls. The former includes some confusing lyrics ("Up and down like a daytime drama/up and down like a yo-yo mama") as well as a cheesy explanation in the song of Tait's involvement in the band. "One Shot," on the other hand, is almost a complete miss; besides a somewhat recycled message, out-of-place lyrics ("You're a student at the college of the Ivy, but filling up a pop machine with Hi-C") as well as some will-be dated lines creep in ("Things change, just like the Twitter that you update, or your Facebook status on your front page, but there's no comment you can leave to change my mind"). With these songs' lack of lyrical complexity, it only brings to mind how much better lyrical content the Newsboys have written previously.

Clearly, the Newsboys are taking a giant step away from their classic, recognizable sound, and this EP is our first taste of this new approach. While I can't deny these new tracks have some flaws, it's nonetheless very enjoyable material, and it only interests me further to see how the full album results this summer. For better or worse, this is a whole new Newsboys, as well as a new chapter of Christian music history that has begun.

- Review date: 1/26/10, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com

 

JFH Staff's Second Opinion



Ever since the news that Michael Tait was the Newsboys' third lead vocalist in the band's history (and first non-Aussie singer), I've been eager to hear what new material as "Newsboys" would sound like. The Born Again Preview EP gives fans a generous taste of the band's new identity, and it's safe to say that it's a pretty big change for the band. The spirit of the Newsboys remains intact, but the sound certainly displays a distinctly new flavor for them. If anything, these Michael-fronted songs sound more like new material for his band Tait than Newsboys, but delightful background vocals from Jody Davis, coupled with some of the usual quirky lyrics and energy one might expect from Newsboys help a bit to separate the two. But while cheesy lyrics - like references to Twitter and Facebook on "One Shot" - were something that were forgivable when Furler was singing them, they sound out of place and awkward uttered from Tait's lips. Still, this EP officially ushers in a new chapter for Newsboys, and while it's a big change to adapt to, it's looking and sounding pretty good, and it should be interesting to see how a full album plays out this June. - 1/27/10, John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com

 

. Record Label: InPop Records
. Album length: 5 tracks
. Street Date: January, 2010

  1. Born Again (3:11)
  2. On Your Knees (3:28)
  3. When The Boys Light Up (3:06)
  4. I'll Be (3:31)
  5. One Shot (3:32)

 

 

 

 

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