'All Is Not Lost': The Album You Need To Hear In 2017
All is not lost.
As 2016 comes to an end, do we believe it?
The Brilliance, composed of David Gungor and John Arndt, made their debut in 2015 with their album Brother. That album was a remarkable first entry, a simultaneous confrontation of injustice and call to the Church to be the Church. As a band, they echo the alternative sounds you might hear from Sufjan Stevens, John Mark McMillan, or Gungor – Michael, David's brother. Whatever your preferences though, they deserve a listen. In January 2017 their sophomore album All Is Not Lost (Integrity Music) will be released. Here's what you can expect, and why it's the perfect album to open up 2017.
The album opens with the ethereal, thoughtful 'Oh Earth'. It feels like a sigh at the close of a long year, a moment to reflect on all that has been. The mood steps up with 'Gravity Of Love', which opens: "I lift my eyes up to the hills/ this my morning song/ where my strength comes from."
The chorus reads: "This is the gravity of love, just as the moon follows the sun, you're all around me, you're holding everything." Keys and strings are beautifully interwoven in a song clearly emphasising hope, rooted in a God who is with us. Around the repeated refrain the song builds up to an emphatic, celebratory finale that sets the tone for the album.
'Night Has Passed / Morning Has Broken' beautifully integrates reflection, prayer and hymn. Here the refrain is drawn in part from a traditional Anglican prayer: "The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind." The classic hymn 'Morning Has Broken' is woven in seamlessly, and given a new lease of life in the process.
'See The Love' is a gentle, somewhat sombre but ultimately aspiring piece, (a previous version of it debuted on last year's EP See The Love) which stands as a prophetic counter to the hate and anger that so dominates the news and online discourse: "Headline breaks and we start to hate again/ Calling them names again/ We give our peace away." But it insists on the hope that there is another way: "Learn to feel/ Learn to begin again/ Open our eyes again/ To see our brothers' pain."
'Turning Over tables' further emphasises the need for a counter-cultural way of living: "Fear runs deep/ spreading like a virus/ Hate comes cheap/ from afar it costs you nothing." The song marks a change in tempo however, and gives us the upbeat, confident chorus: "Love is turning over tables, breaking off chains / When I see you in the stranger, I'm no longer a slave."
'Hear Our Prayers' is an electronic synth-laden call to God and the Church, which asks "Can we ever be the people we were meant to be?" It cries lament for the past and present, but also resounds with the promise that "Love shall overcome."
'Will We Ever Rise', 'Who Is Jesus?', and 'Lift Your Voice' are solid, but slightly less distinctive entries which together emphasise the theme of calling the Church to participation in and for the world. 'Holy Holy' is a more simple, stripped back affair which focusses more directly on praise to God.
The album closes with its title track 'All Is Not Lost', which brings the volume to a slow, reflective and hopeful close. It leaves us with the simple but profound benediction: "May the seeds of peace be scattered, birthing trees whose shade gives us rest."
The album isn't just beautiful, it's important, and the band are clearly sensitive to the times in which they live. It echoes the prophetic lament of their début album, but this time with a lighter, more hopeful tone. It confronts a fallen world and a broken Church, but refuses to be overwhelmed by despair. It takes its time, allowing you to savour its message and truly take it in. It resounds with heavenly choruses and notes of transcendence, driven by a sense that the artists deeply mean it when they say, "I wanna see it/ I hope we believe it/ I wanna see the love/ All around you, all around you."
All Is Not Lost by The Brilliance will be available to buy on January 27, 2017.