Title: Motion Toward the Miles
Label: 7 Spin Music
Release Date: 11/6/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Guide Me
- Don’t Wanna Miss You
- You Make All Things New
- Who We Are
- After Me
- The Hope in Everything
- Where I Am Found
- Something Strange
- Back To Life
- All We’ve Ever Needed
‘…there’s no magic formula for songwriting, and it usually never happens the same way twice. But the one common thread we try to retain in our music is honesty. If we can speak honestly about our own experiences, then hopefully others feel empowered to do the same. There’s such a broad spectrum of human emotions to be captured through the medium of song. Ultimately, we want to be a vehicle God uses to communicate the love and redemption He has for everybody…’ As we are reminded by Matt Stewart, the lead singer of pop-rock Christian band Attaboy, that songs have the power to transform lives and capture the concepts of love, joy, hope, struggle, hurt and comfort all within the confines of a 3 or 4 minute melody; Attaboy have released their latest album Motion Toward the Miles to much fan and commercial success since their album was available on iTunes and Amazon since October 2012. With their latest album being the first with Matt on lead vocals (their previous lead singer Amos Caley went to pursue seminary studies); Attaboy have given us 12 songs full of a wide variety of musical genres, from ballads to rock and pop melodies fit for the radio. With hit singles ‘Guide Me’ and ‘Unshaken’, this independent band from Indiana has delivered a musical selection worthy enough to be one of my favourite indie-pop records of 2012, along with Chris Sligh’s For Our God and King, Julianna Zobrist’s Say it Now and Debra Arlyn’s Heartbeat.
‘Unshaken’ was released to radio in August 2011, and has been one of Attaboy’s most popular songs of late, together with the Avalon-covered ‘California’, ‘Everything Matters’ and ‘We Sing’. Now becoming one of the most polished, relevant, hopeful and uplifting independent bands of late, ‘Unshaken’ is once again another hit from the Indiana band. Full of electronic undertones as Matt employs a ‘woah’ backing vocal moment to draw us into the 3:13 melody, listeners are able to hear his enthusiastic passion as we understand that ‘…You’re the only hope that I have found, when everything is changing, You are unshaken…’ It takes courage and honesty to declare that even when everything changes around us, we know we can count on Christ and rely on Him. Usually during circumstances that don’t necessarily go our way, we can sometimes be question of whether God really has our best interests at heart. But just like this song, we can still choose to realise that even when everything crashes around us, God is still the one that will hold everything together, always keeping His promises and loving us no matter our circumstances. One of the most poignant melodies on the album, ‘Unshaken’ describes God’s character, one that we can count on irregardless of our feelings or emotions towards Him at certain times. Well done Attaboy for such a healing song full of restoration.
With encouragement and motivational messages the primary theme throughout the rest of the 11 songs, Attaboy are able to honestly portray moments of doubt, hope, life, struggles, pain and prayerful promises as each song guides listeners to the God who satisfies our heart like no other. Both ‘The Hope in Everything’ and ‘You Make All Things New’ are great reminders of God’s sovereign nature in difficult situations, and the challenges and often courage and strength it may to move from doubt and uncertainty to trusting God fully with the lives we want to let go of, yet seem afraid that as we stop having the control we’ve been used to, we may feel as though we’re inadequate of God’s love for us. With just a piano to start off ‘The Hope in Everything’, Matt speaks out the poignant words ‘…I am fighting for control in the battle of my soul; it’s a conflict I can’t conquer on my own…’ Something every person can relate to, this powerful message of Christ being the hope for us all progresses into a moving and emotional chorus as Matt declares that God is our lifeline, the stronghold when everything else seems to be crashing on the ground. With simple acoustics and a riveting vocal performance, Matt gives us an anthem that is one of the most honest and emotionally vulnerable on Motion Toward the Miles. ‘You Make All Things New’ is another ballad that starts with a keyboard, as we are met with a song of certainty and bold claims- that Christ makes everything new, using every circumstance, good and bad; to glorify Himself as well as shaping us on the transformation journey into the sons and daughters of God that the Lord wants us to be. With a similar acoustical arrangement as most other ballads on the album, with light percussion and a heartfelt message of hope in the midst of chaos and darkness, Attaboy have been able to bring to light the issue of trust in these two songs, leading listeners to realise that God makes everything work together for our good. Well done guys for such compelling songs and some of my favourites from this 2012 album.
Attaboy are able to explore a vast variety of themes and topics in their new album, from asking God to open our eyes to the beauty and wonder around us so that we don’t miss God in the little thing as we are caught up in the busyness of life (‘Don’t Wanna Miss You’) and standing our ground and holding onto the dreams that God has birthed inside us (‘Who We Are’); to reminding listeners that God is always pursuing us even in the moments when we may not want Him beside us or even understand Him in difficult circumstances (‘After Me’), as well as giving reassurance that when everything is said and done, God will bring us back to life and all the troubles, hurt and pain will dissipate from us and we will be made whole in God’s presence (‘Back to Life’).
Yet it is the album opener ‘Guide Me’, the riveting acoustic song ‘Where I Am Found’, and the last two songs ‘All We’ve Ever Needed’ and ‘Restless’ that are some of my favourite songs on the album (along with ‘The Hope in Everything’ and ‘You Make All Things New’). With the introduction of electronics to bring listeners into ‘Guide Me’, Matt presents us the truth that there is no road map to do life. Mistakes are always made and we can seem to feel like we don’t know where we’re heading on this road called life. But as this song reminds us that it is God who is able to give us guidance, assistance, help and direction as we travel along our personal journeys, I personally feel much more liberated as I know that even if I don’t know where I’m heading, I can trust the One who does. With acoustics, light percussion and an ample amount of strings, Attaboy presents a current issue many individuals are facing- who or what defines our identity. With many people searching in status, material possessions or even chasing affection from their loved ones, the question is begged as per the song title- where am I found? With heartfelt lyrics and poignant statements that declare that it is in Christ that I find my freedom and purpose; ‘Where I Am Found’ moves into a similar themed ‘All We’ve Ever Needed’, with Matt trying his hardest to impersonate Tenth Avenue North frontman Mike Donehey as we understand that it is Christ that we need in every circumstance, and that ‘…You have always been all we’ve ever needed…’ Humbling and confronting at the same time, our priorities are re-examined both in this melody and the album closer ‘Restless’. Not to be mistaken with Switchfoot’s radio single of the same name, Attaboy offers a great last song that starts off with an acoustic undertone and boldly crescendos with a musical shift from acoustics to electric guitars as Matt cries out ‘…love has come for me, forever I am Yours…’ As we accept Christ as our Friend, Saviour, Healer and Father; our restlessness will disappear as we delve more into His Word and continue to commune with Him. A great last song on Motion Toward the Miles, Attaboy have given us great song that reminds us of every human’s aching heart for the everlasting and the eternal. Well done guys for such a transparent and emotive song.
Overall: Attaboy may not necessarily be the most well known artist, yet their musical style and honest lyrics will be a great match for listeners who may like similar artists, from Newsboys and Audio Adrenaline to Stellar Kart and Sanctus Real. Attaboy have given us great melodies filled with timeless themes and truths that every listener should be able to dwell upon. From ballad ‘The Hope in Everything’ to the upbeat ‘Unshaken’, there is much to be gained from listening to Motion Toward the Miles. With plenty of variety of musical elements, from acoustic to electric guitar prominent, we are met with 4 men from Indiana present to us an album with great promise, moving into 2013 with the hope and anticipation of possibly being signed to a major record label. Yet even if they don’t Attaboy have made a greatly produced indie-pop record, all with a great reminder that Christ is at the centre of every situation and circumstance, even when and especially during the moments when we may not feel Him by our sides. Well done Attaboy for a musically relevant and refreshing album.
RIYL: Newsboys, Stellar Kart, Sanctus Real, Audio Adrenaline
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3