Album Review :
Michael Boggs - More Like A Lion

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Artist: Michael Boggs
Title: More Like A Lion
Label: Stylos Records
Release Date: 3/25/14
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. Turn Around
  2. Our Hallelujah
  3. Rise
  4. What Would Jesus Undo?
  5. Resurrection and the Life
  6. Alive
  7. Heart on my Sleeve
  8. Head to the Heart
  9. Deep Deep Love
  10. Song in Me
  11. We Will See Jesus
  12. What I Already Know

Formally the guitarist of FFH, Michael Boggs’s music career continues to grow from strength to strength ever since he became a part of a band that has now become recognised in virtually every household who loves CCM music and grew up on the bands of the 90s, like Point of Grace and Avalon. While many still may not know who he is or even that he was part of FFH, his distinct voice and trademark country style rock genre, similar to other artists like Matt Maher, Third Day or even country trio Red Roots, is sure to peak interest of listeners, enough to hopefully listen to his debut album releasing on March 25th 2014 (which includes his 5 song EP that was released in September 2013 in the 11 track album). With electric guitar riffs and a southern gospel atmosphere, Michael reminds us of biblical truths through powerful melodies and easy to sing to songs that remind us of the truth of Jesus and His presence in our lives. Released in one of the busiest months in 2014 (with albums from Kari Jobe, Jason Gray, Satellites and Sirens and Rend Collective also releasing in that month), Michael’s 12 tracks have become one of my favourites for the last few months, delivering poignant truths that continue to delve to heart of being a Christian- worshipping our Lord and fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ. From the Matt Maher co-written ‘Turn Around’ to the banjo inspired melody ‘Alive’ and the hymn-like anthem ‘Rise’; More Like a Lion is a certain purchase if you enjoy worship with a powerful edge and a southern gospel flavour!

With 5 out of the 12 tracks already being released on Michael’s EP last year, the songs still are deserving of their place on Michael’s full length album, and are still some of the highlights when I hear the album from start to finish. The first song on the album, ‘Turn Around’ was a song that I didn’t initially think was Michael’s, to the point where I commented on how I thought Michael did a great job at it, at times even better than Matt. Written by both Matt and Michael, ‘Turn Around’ is delivered with great passion on both The Love In Between and More Like a Lion. Virtually a line by line, melody by melody copy of each other (with the exception of Michael’s version emphasising more on the electric guitars to create the southern gospel flavour that not only runs through this song, but throughout the whole album in general), Michael invites listeners to turn around and follow Christ, rather than the understanding that many of us secretly hold onto that we need to clean up our acts before we come to Christ. Powerful and poignant, emotional and hopefully compelling and inspiring, ‘Turn Around’ has become one of my favourite songs of Matt’s (and Michael’s), with the tag toward the end of the melody alluding to the parable of the lost son; how when he was just on the horizon, his father ran to meet him and rejoicing that his son was indeed home. Life-changing and inspiring, Michael’s inspirational melodies continue to flow, with ‘Rise’, an acoustical melody where Michael invites us to be a part of this humble proclamation that ‘…ohhh, He’s alive, ohhh Jesus Christ, the sinless one paid the price, it is done, in Christ we rise…’ A melody that builds into an anthem that’s certain to become one of my favourites in months to come, Michael doesn’t hold back in delivering biblical truths about how the stone rolled away has led us to begin a new life in Him.

‘Our Hallelujah’ brings forth an electric guitar riff initially as Michael declares out ‘…we are the blessed, we are the broken, we are the outcast, we are the chosen, we are the dying, we are the living, we are the faithful, we are forgiven…’, and with that lyric, I myself am reminded that this song’s theme is very much similar to that of Stellar Kart’s ‘Criminals and Kings’, that we can have a seemingly dual nature, parts of us that are seemingly entrenched within old ways and other parts that are made whole in Christ. With the song inspiring us with the reminder that no one can take our hallelujah, our comfort in that even though we have all our faults and mishaps on the outside, no one can steal our praise for the Lord; Michael’s remaining two tracks that were also on the EP, ‘What Would Jesus Undo’ and ‘Alive’, continue to bring us emotion and poignancy from where the previous three songs left off, with the former being a confronting melody speaking about what Jesus could and might undo if He lived during this time and saw all the things Christians were doing in His name, and the latter a toe-tapping banjo infused album standout that gives us a timely reminder of how ‘…You didn’t come to make bad people good, oh You came to make the dead come alive, to open up our eyes…’ As I take a look at my own life and see if all the things I’ve done are things done truly in God’s name or just done with God’s ‘stamp’ of approval on it; the songs on More Like a Lion EP have been great facilitators of these thoughts and hopeful discussions, as we are reminded of our continually and essential need for us to be challenged as we continue to dwell deeper in relationship with Christ our Saviour and God the Father and Friend.

‘Head to the Heart’ is as confronting as they come, with Michael relaying to us the theme of us trying to move from just knowing in the head to feeling it in the heart, as we realise that the amount of knowledge of God, the bible and Christianity can’t make us a Christian, but rather, our relationship with the Father through time, effort, and resting in His presence is what is going to take us out of a rut we can sometimes fall into- going through the motions. Through big drum beats and clashing cymbals, Michael poignantly reminds us that we’ve ‘…got the light, got to let it show, I got the faith, if I could let it go, I gotta find a way to get it from my head to the heart…’, hopefully giving us resolve and determination to live out and show what we know to be true. With I myself being a culprit as well, of not living out my faith as much as I think I ought to, ‘Head to the Heart’ is I’m sure just what is needed for us to confront our own inadequacies and fears head on, asking the Lord to help us in the process. ‘Heart on my Sleeve’, with an acoustic and light percussion atmosphere, is another one of Michael’s powerful and sometimes confronting songs, with the theme of us falling down on our knees as we declare Jesus on our tongue, this instrumentally sombre track gives Michael much more emotion as we are presented with easily one of the most vulnerable songs on the album (alongside ‘What Would Jesus Undo?’). Wearing our heart on our sleeve, for our friends, family and the Lord Himself, can be quite difficult, yet Michael reminds us that as Christians, all we can do out of love and reverence is just that. ‘Deep Deep Love of Jesus’ is a rendition of the hymn that frankly, I didn’t know about, but any song that sings about God’s deep love for us is a winner in my book (like ‘How Deep the Father’s Love’, one of my personal favourite hymns). But when I hear Michael singing the lyrics to the tune of Hillsong’s ‘Man of Sorrows’ (or did Hillsong ‘borrow’ the melody from this beloved hymn?), I scratch my head and wonder- did God give them similar melodies or did one of them ‘borrow’ without permission? Nevertheless, despite the obvious musical similarity, the song still ministers, calling us all into the deep love of Christ.

Overall: Ending the album with vertical worship songs ‘We Will Sing Jesus’, a melody complete with a choir and an emotional chorus that calls us to sing ‘…Jesus, name above all names, oh all the glory, honour, power be to the only risen King, His presence will never leave us, oh He is our song, we will sing Jesus…’, and ‘What I Already Know’, an acoustic melody that assures us all that we don’t need any ‘…mountain move for me, or some miracle to behold, all I really need is just a little more faith, to believe what I already know…’; Michael continues to unveil the power in poignancy and great songwriting skills to deliver an album that is possibly one of my favourite indie full-length albums since Red Root’s Triplicity. Michael Boggs, though not that known, is just as crucial to the music industry as a seasoned veteran like Chris Tomlin or Andrew Peterson. Writing and declaring melodies with powerful truths (often truths that are confronting and hard to hear); Michael’s full length album is just as comforting and confronting as his EP, and is sure to create stirs and hopeful action as we look towards our own hearts and modify our own behaviours and beliefs about Christ and the fellowship between us and our Heavenly Father, and us and the rest of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Michael’s debut album as frontman (not just an electric guitarist in FFH) is a great investment to make, and a reminder that sometimes the independent and lesser known artists can be just as inspiring, if not more so, than the heavily publicised ones. A great listen if you enjoy artists like Third Day, needtobreathe, Matt Maher or Red Roots; well-done Michael for such compelling and emotional songs, and some of my favourite country/southern gospel/pop melodies released in 2013/14 so far!

RIYL: Red Roots, Matt Maher, needtobreathe, Third Day, FFH

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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