Peter Furler quit Newsboys in 2009 and released his solo record On Fire in 2011. Now the third incarnation of the 47 year old's music has arrived with the admittedly unimaginably titled Peter Furler Band.
The new record is called Sun And Shield and put simply it's a fantastic pop/rock/worship album. If like many fans you felt something of The Newsboys' soul was stripped away when Furler left, both On Fire and Sun And Shield are encouraging listens. Furler is back, but then again he never really went away.
"Bitterness is a fault line / Envy is a golden calf" are the words which open the new release. The antidotal chorus praises "my Sun, my Shield" which is where Furler gets his help from. It's the same catchy pop/rock music which Furler has always delivered so excellently. The bonus of an unusual and intense bridge helps steer the band away from falling into predictable musical territory.
Follow up So High cements the band sound that Peter has helped create. The three-piece pack a punch with God-centred lyrics over a mid tempo blend of guitars and drums. This time it's the synthesised vocals which prevents the songwriter from settling for a safe arrangement.
Dare I Say places the electric guitar riff up front for a rhythmic and soulful track. It's one of the best songs Furler has written...ever. And as longtime Furler fans will appreciate, that's quite a feat. Furler brings both the organs and brass in to help pile on the funk for the track. His sound is rock solid.
This third track ends far too soon and gives way to a very different sound. The delay filled guitars and melancholy reverb-laced vocals that make up the opening bars of Shame sound more like The Listening than The Newsboys. But as the song progresses, this simple yet beautiful track slowly comes into life.
The brave addition of a sitar midway through the track is a risk that remarkably just about pays off. The crescendo is reached in the lyrics of: "Time after time after spirals and cycles and finding the floor just to crash through it once more / You'd think we'd be over but maybe we're soul mates or maybe I just hate to leave you for someone better."
Furler teams up with his father in law Mylon Le Fevre for album centerpiece Yeshua. The Hebrew name for Jesus is (presumably deliberately) delivered as "yes you are" in a pun of sorts during the surprisingly congregational worship song.
As Furler fans will know, the singer has always enjoyed inserting comedy into his tunes. Whether it was his famously bizarre Breakfast-in-hell lyric or his rant about about call centres in My Friend Jesus, the singer has enjoyed putting his tongue firmly in his cheek.
"You're watching The Notebook you're thinking she'll cry now," Furler jokes in Right Wrong Girl. The drums are provided by what sounds like a cheap keyboard straight out of the 1980s. It's a silly filler track, but Furler's personality shines through beautifully.
Other tracks The High Road and closer We Won't Forget aren't as memorable but overall this is a great album by a legendary artist. There aren't many artists pushing 50 who consistently deliver music that connects with people across the generations. Peter Furler is atypical and awe-inspiring. I'm already craving his next release.