It's been three years since pop/rock South African act Tree 63 has released an all-new studio album. Sunday! brings with it eleven new catchy and often worshipful original songs. From its beginning, Sunday! carries a bit of familiarity with it, but mostly in the way that these boys have done it again.
When Tree 63 debuted on Inpop earlier this decade, the band seemed to be working to find their own place in music while writing songs to praise their Savior along the way. With the success of UK band Delirious, comparisons to Martin Smith's vocals with Tree's own John Ellis was almost inevitable. But over time, and over the past several projects, Tree 63 has found its footing. Sunday! is still a batch of pop/rock anthems that very much fit the mold of what one might think of as "Christian music," and Ellis's lyrics once again pull the listener into some deeper places and topics than you would normally get from a pop record.
The title track opens the album as quite an attention-getter. Sort of following in the footsteps of a rock worship act like Delirious or later Newsboys, "Sunday" very much sounds like a song you'd expect to hear drifting through the golden streets of Heaven someday. It's a simplistic take on the "It's Friday, but Sunday is coming" concept (which is actually a line in the song as well), but Tree turns it effortlessly into an anthem of sorts. The fun and funky frantic nature of "Becoming" doesn't stray too far from this formula while "World Undone" is not much more than your usual Tree fare. "Alright" is the first of the few melodic tracks on Sunday!, serving as encouragement for anyone going through a tough time. Although a bit cliche at times (The chorus is "it's all gonna be alright, Even this will pass - tomorrow comes at last" and another verse even uses "The grass is greener on the other side"), it's a sweet reminder that trials come and go. "Foolishness" is one of the deeper concepts on the album. With its verses, Ellis asks, "What wisdom puts the prophet in a desert place / Nobody to hear a single word he says? And what wisdom brings reward from suffering / Where if I want to win I have to lose everything? / How can I make sense of this? / I am living in God's foolishness." Those unfamiliar with the scripture referenced may scratch their heads, but Ellis ends the musings on a redemptive and celebratory note, "I reasoned myself to death but / I was saved by foolishness / ...But I'm clean now, saved from foolishness / Foolish things made a king from a fool."
Musically, it's enjoyable to hear the South African rock group explore a few different sounds in the latter half of Sunday!, particularly in "There Is A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken," which opens with more of a classic rock guitar riff, and album highlight "Not As This World" rips forward with a raw, driving guitar that dares not to be succumbed by the polish of production. "New Creation" is a ridiculously catchy declaration of freedom in Christ while the album comes to a rousing finish with the hyper sounds of "The Revolution."
There isn't a great deal of change to be found from Tree 63 in Sunday!, but there's an infectious passion within the record that gives it a life beyond your speakers. A little edgier than recent projects, but still very much a pop/rock record, Sunday! is a series of anthems for the church - accessible enough in theme to grasp with ease and unique enough at times so you don't feel like you've heard it all said before.- Review date: 9/21/07, written by John DiBiase
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