By BRUCE DENNILL
I Am They: I Am They
A Nevada sextet armed with multiple acoustic guitars and delicately harmonised vocals, I Am They feature, in every song on this debut collection, one component that Christian music should (given its message) feature prominently, but often doesn’t – joy.
Happily, there is much more on offer than a rousing mood, though. The musicianship is first-class, with beautifully blended guitars, banjos and dobros augmented by keys and underpinned (certainly on the more uptempo tunes) by the sort of four-on-the-floor kick drum that has made its way into so much popular music since the rise of the likes of Mumford and Sons. Some listeners may feel that there’s perhaps too much of that around now and, when such an approach is only in place as a means to please a playlist compiler, that’s a fair comment. But nu folk is absolutely the right niche for these songs and again, the exultation in the music renders such petty concerns irrelevant as you simply revel in the sensation of being made to feel happy by what’s happening in your ears.
We Are Yours is a Dixie Chicks-ish, hook-laden starter, with Awaken My Love an equally adept mix of chart-friendliness, chops and an optimistic lyric. Your Love Is Mine is more of a traditional love song, with the traditional human partner replaced by Jesus (the band’s core message is a gospel-infused one), with Over & Over Again another step down in tempo – though not emotional – terms.
The energy increases in King Of Love, a lyrical modern acoustic hymn after the style of All Sons & Daughters, which is followed by Even Me, perhaps the simplest track on the album, musically and conceptually. Worship music is by definition centred on a compact set of topics, and by From The Day, I Am They are starting to repeat themselves thematically, so it is clever sequencing to follow that with the beautiful Make A Way headlined vocally by Stephanie Kulla, where most of the other tracks are fronted by lower men’s voices.
The best is nearly left for last, with Here’s My Heart (a Chris Tomlin/Lou Giglio/Jason Ingram co-write, so the only non-original on the collection) featuring one of those melodies – and a memorable lyric line – that sticks in both the head and the heart and will likely be the band’s calling card for many years to come, such is the strength of their version. The finale – more good sequencing – is Amen (could there be a more fitting name for the closer on a Christian album?), which offers more finely crafted country pop.
There’s a lot to like here in the first few spins and that affection is only likely to deepen and develop as you dedicate more time to the band. This is a debut of huge promise.
- We Are Yours 7.75
- Awake My Love 7.75
- Your Love Is Mine 7.25
- Over & Over Again 7.00
- King Of Love 7.50
- Even Me 6.75
- From The Day 7.00
- Make A Way 7.25
- Here’s My Heart 8.00
- Amen 7.00