Mike Mains and the Branches - Home

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Artist: Mike Mains and the Branches
Title: Home
Release Date: 07/2012
Reviewer: Sara Walz

Tracklisting:

  1. Matches
  2. Drifter
  3. Miracle
  4. Love
  5. Stop the Car
  6. Emma Ruth
  7. Beneath the Water
  8. Rush You
  9. Lady Love
  10. Stero

Home is a beautifully crafted work of art. It is more than just an album; it is one part music, one part lyrics, one part soul. Mains and Co. utilize the keys on many songs rounding out the typical guitar/bass/drums combo to bring a sound that isn’t uncharted territory but still creates it’s own waves. There is also the strong presence of “ooh’s” and “woah’s” and tambourine, creating a sound that should be cheesy yet is simply charming. Keyboardist, Shannon, offers up harmonies that you can’t imagine not being there while Mike’s vocals are unique and unforgettable. The songs move seamlessly from one to the next with each song maintaining its own sound and story, each song has its own heartbeat.

While the music on Home is one of the best examples of “indie” (for lack of a better term) music I have heard come out of the Christian music scene it is the lyrics that really drive this album home, no pun intended. “Miracle” begs the listener to realize that they were made for more, “Don’t you know that we were made miracles?/Don’t you know that we were made to keep our hands clean and our shoulders back?” While “Drifter” cries out, “My God/my God/my past haunts me.” The theme of redepmtion isn’t far behind, on “Beneath the Water” the imagery of baptism is undeniable, “Hold me/underneath the water til the old me dies/and slips out of this body/rip him out of my body/and make me new again.”

The whole album is enchanting and gripping but it was “Stereo” that solidified Mike Mains in the Branches, in my mind, as a band who raise the bar for the artistry of the craft. It is nothing crazy, but it is good, really good. Driven by the drums, it starts with some gang vocals and moves into a song about Love and how nothing else can give us what we really need. “I’ve got a crucifix above my bed/ So I forget not to pray when I go to bed/ But that can’t save me/ No, that can’t save me/ It’s not the wood that saves, it’s the man who came and wore it/ It’s not the cross that saves, but the man who came and wore it/ And he wore it well, he wore it well.”

Overall: Home is that album that you can’t stop listening to because everytime you give it another spin you peel back the layers to the record and hear something you didn’t hear before, either a guitar part you didn’t realize was there or a lyric that cuts to the core of who you are. Job well done to Mike Mains and the Branches on releasing an album that raises the bar for other bands and is giving voice to the diaries of the broken but hopeful.