Album Review :
Loud Harp - Asaph

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Artist: Loud Harp
Title: Asaph
Label: Independent
Release Date: 4/8/14
Reviewer: Jessica Cooper

Track Listing:

  1. (27) Take Heart
  2. (08) I’m Yours
  3. (73) The Nearness Of You
  4. (77) You Heard Me
  5. (121) Ascent
  6. (121) I Lift My Eyes
  7. (73) My Portion Forever
  8. (50) Out Of Zion
  9. (50) The Fire And The Flood
  10. (05) Beautiful Son
  11. (144) Steadfast Love

I’m so excited to see that Loud Harp is putting out new material, and much like their debut self-titled release, it’s incredibly good indie worship. Taking a different approach in theme, their sophomore album Asaph comes from a position of victory, praise, and new perspective of God’s greatness. In context, and considering the numerical references to specific passages in Old Testament scripture, Asaph is essentially a collection of personal Psalms.

Loud Harp certainly doesn’t waste time with Asaph, starting off with “Take Heart” and its steady rhythm of razzy padded keys, snare cadence, and stringed accents, leading in with the words, “O, my soul, take heart. The day is coming soon.” It’s a shame that I sometimes forget about bands like Loud Harp in the midst of all the new music that’s coming out, because they’re so simple and good and not hard to love.

Songs like “I’m Yours” are pretty true representations of a musician’s versatility, too, because they showcase an artist’s ability to play instruments in their natural state. That comes through both layers of electric guitar and their individual tones. Each has its own chime that complements the other, and sets up the fundamental groove and overall feel of the song. And again, the theme of the album is carried throughout, with lyrics like “I am no longer a slave. I am no longer afraid. You gave me a voice and a song, You taught me how to sing. Now I have brothers and sisters, You gave me a family. I’m Yours, I’m Yours, You call me Your son. I’m Yours, I’m Yours, You bought me with blood.”

Then there are songs like “The Nearness of You” and “You Heard Me” that really give listeners a glimpse of how close God is to us. “The Nearness of You” is reminiscent of Psalms both in lyrical content and ethereal sounding backdrop of chord plucks, chimes, and diamonds that lead into a tom cadence, building the song up in intensity and dynamics. It’s perfectly layered to create a sense of anticipation for the exploding bridge. “You Heard Me” calls attention to the common issue of believing that God is this unattainable being in the sky who can’t hear us or help us when we need Him. It shifts gears musically around the 3:00 mark, adding more layers of strings and vocals that break off into desperate praises.

“Ascent” is instrumental, and transitions seamlessly into “I Lift My Eyes” which calls on the familiar and simple words of Psalm 121, “I lift my eyes to the hills. My help comes from You.” The progression of the song is a complement to the lyrical theme of both tracks.

“My Portion Forever” is also instrumental and sort of sets the tone for the rest of the album, picking things up in tempo, honesty, and technicality. “Out Of Zion” brings a punch by relying heavily on a solid tom-snare cadence and low-range diamonds on the electric guitar, but also maintains a peaceful gait in its vocals, until around 3:05 when the song levels up altogether.

“The Fire And The Flood” might be my favorite based on the musical progression, but also the lyrical content. It keeps building, and almost drowns out the vocals, which I think is something that normally shouldn’t be done, but if it’s done right (especially on a worship album), it can really be effective and have a purpose. The words are blunt and plainly indicative of desperation for God to meet us where we are in worship: “This time when You come, do not keep silent. This time when You come, don’t hide Your face. O, bring the fire. Burn what isn’t You. O, bring the flood. Overwhelm us.”

Here are a couple more of my favorite lyrics:

“To the Lamb who was slain, be glory and praise, honor and fame.” – “Beautiful Son”

“Blessed be the Lord, my rock. He is my shield, I will hide behind Him. He is my steadfast love. He is my fortress, my refuge.” – “Steadfast Love”

Overall: This is already one of the most solid releases I’ve heard thus far for 2014, and will no doubt make its home near the top of my year-end list. It’s loaded with good vibes, good sounds, good lyrics, and good…ness. It’s just good. There’s nothing else I can say, except that Loud Harp’s hard work has definitely been made apparent through Asaph. Get your hands (and ears) on this album. Currently, there’s a teaser EP available on Noisetrade with live, stripped-down versions of songs featured on the album, as well as the album version of “(77) You Heard Me.” Keep an eye out for this release!

RIYL: The National, Sigur Ros, Frozen Ocean, Citizens, The Brilliance.