In 1999, the three Meeker siblings, otherwise known collectively as "Chasing Furies," made their debut rather impressively with their alternative rock offering, With Abandon. With a national record deal on Sparrow Records and a growing fanbase, anyone who'd been taken by this trio's introductory project expected nothing less than an extraordinary career in music before them. Unfortunately, the Chasing Furies fans were wrong...
The siblings went their separate ways, and the oldest of the two sisters, Sarah, married and has since been known as Sarah MacIntosh, pursuing music rather quietly in the independent realm as well. Along with a little-known hymns project, Sarah teamed with Luna Halo vocalist Nathan Barlowe and her husband Jonathan for two collaborative full-length projects for their church. However, 2007 saw the dawn of a new venture for Sarah as she recorded what she considers her first official solo project of original material... and what a venture it is!
The bravely and awkwardly lengthy-titled record, The Waiters The Watchers The Listeners The Keepers & Me, is unofficially a worship album, but can certainly be viewed as one. However, given MacIntosh's delectably artistic approach to the songs, it wouldn't do the record - or Sarah - justice to call it a worship album. Elements of the release may remind some Chasing Furies listeners fondly of what they've missed about the group, but Sarah's approach to music is as fresh and pleasing to the ears today as her initial band was nearly a decade ago. The heart of The Waiters..., etc. is that of worship and the freshness that lacks from most projects in the worship genre today is what gives this album an infectious passion. There's a beauty to MacIntosh's writing that makes even the simplest declarations - like "There's nothing small about My Jesus" (in "My Jesus") - just plain delightful.
"Where You'll Find Me" is a wonderful album opener, also serving as MacIntosh's answer to anyone who may claim they just can't find God in this world. The chorus, which has a touch of celestial bliss, proclaims, "Stars, that's where you'll find Him / Trees, listen they're shouting / We are made by Him who created the heavens / Leaves can't cease their clapping / Wind, twirling and dancing / They never stop their praise to our King of Glory." MacIntosh's worship is oftentimes the kind you'd want to plug into during quiet time with the Father, some of the best kind of worship time you can experience.
Following the acoustical "My Jesus" and the declarative "Did You Know" is one of the more unabashed worship tracks, "More Than Hands," which, seasoned with melody and passion, Sarah simply sings, "Holy Holy / Lord God Almighty is He / We know who You are!" The crisp feel of the album brings to mind the refreshing sense that the group Leeland has brought to modern worship, which makes the beautiful album highlight "Pick Up Your Cross" particularly intriguing as Leeland Mooring himself aids in providing background vocals for the track (not to mention Sarah's sister and fellow former Furies member, Rachel as well)! "Sunshine," which features the line from which the album title was pulled, is distinctly less direct in lyrical approach as MacIntosh takes a poetic reflection on Matthew 25:13. And just when you might think you've heard the best tracks on the album already, the alt-folk-pop of "Too Much" (complete with a sweet guitar solo from Jonny), the Chasing-Furies-esque "Keep Watch Over Me," the quirky almost-Enya-meets-Eisely anthem for putting aside the old self "Stop! Stop!" (which captures the inner struggle quite nicely), and the prayerful acoustic gem "Father" take the album out as memorably as it began.
It's hard not to get excited about new music that moves you. Sarah MacIntosh's The Waiters The Watchers The Listeners The Keepers & Me does more than that as she breathes passion, life, and beauty into modern worship, wrapping it of so meticulously in an alt-pop/rock package that makes it all the more enjoyable to listen to. The only downside to Sarah MacIntosh's solo debut - besides the fact that you might not find it in stores! - is that she is yet another of the too-few artists who has upped the ante when it comes to what we can expect from worship music, while songs this good just don't come around as often as we'd like them to...- Review date: 2/1/08, written by John DiBiase
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