Two years ago, By The Tree won the Dove Award for Modern Rock/Alternative Album, and Modern Rock/Alternative Recorded Song of the year for the title track and debut album Invade My Soul. They are back for the second time with These Days. So does it measure up to their debut album in sound and lyrics? Well let's take a look at each song and see if they still have that same formula that made them a hit back in 2001.
First off, you must know that These Days is almost totally different in sound than their debut. It strays from the worship-flavored rock to more of a pop/rock alternative sound - more pop then rock, you could say. The first track is called "Satellite," one of the hardest rock songs you will find on the album. It talks about being a "satellite" for Jesus so we can reflect His love and kindness through our actions and daily walk. "Salvation Song" is a laid back jazzy/pop song that talks about telling the world of the salvation that is offered to all of us through Jesus dying on the cross. "Into Your Arms" will have the listener doing a double take. Is this the same band from before? The song starts off with kids counting off, and I'm sorry but I must say it sounds like something you would hear on Sesame Street.
The next song on the album actually brings us to a highlight. The title track, "These Days," offers a catchy melody that sort of sounds like something you'd hear in the mainstream. The chorus reassures, "I'll be with you when you feel no emotions, I'll be with you when you can't find a way out." "Your Presence" is a worship song that expresses a desire to be in the presence of God and to just know He is near. "All Right" is the first song on the project that will remind the fans of the sound they came to love from Invade My Soul. This song talks about how God promises that no matter what, He will always keep us close and protect us.
"(Jesus Is My) Everything" takes the album in another direction and offers something totally different. Is that a bad thing? Well on this song, I dont think so. A spacey Star Trek synth effect opens the song which goes on to sound a lot like something you might hear from Elton John. "Mystery" starts off with an almost-rap vocal but then slides into a slow rock-flavored chorus. "Change" is a pure rock song with lyrics that talk about seeking God to change us into what we need to be. "Remain" is one of the best songs on the record with a strong rock guitar riff but lyrics that are clearly worship. The last song on the record is called "When I Found You," a slow worship song that ends the album on a good note.
These Days lacks a lot of what made Invade My Soul the hit it was. Most of the songs, aside from maybe three or four, seem to have just been quickly written, recorded, and thrown onto this CD. I know the band has a lot more to offer that is more original and different than what this record shows. These Days does have some highlights, but not enough to make up for the portion that just seems to fall short of the mark.- Review date: 4/21/03, written by J.P.
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