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: 9/24/13
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. Turn Around
  2. Our Hallelujah
  3. Rise
  4. What Would Jesus Undo
  5. Alive

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 5 song EP released in September 2013. 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 2013, a great year to release EPs (as more than 20 EPs released during the year, each one of them of very high quality), Michael’s five song sampler has become one of my favourites, 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!

‘Turn Around’, one of my favourite songs by Matt Maher, was also written by Michael, a fact that I found interesting and that I didn’t know until I heard the melody, and did a bit of investigation. While I initially thought that Michael recorded a Matt Maher cover, 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. As I sit and survey this hopeful musical experience, I am certain to agree with Michael in his assertion that all anyone has to do for their lives to change is to turn around to the Saviour that is beckoning each one of us. The tag at towards the end of the song ‘…you don’t have to take the broken road, you can turn around and come back home…’ alludes 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. Powerful and poignant, emotional and hopefully compelling and inspiring, ‘Turn Around’ has become one of my favourite songs of Matt’s (and Michael’s). Well done to the songwriters for delivering a melody that can be just as life-changing as any sermon or Bible verse!

‘Our Hallelujah’ starts off with an acoustic guitar riff 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…’, a moment in the song that alludes very much to the theme of Stellar Kart’s ‘Criminals and Kings’, that it reminds me of the fact that in our lives, 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. As we understand that we are outcasts, broken and dying, just as we are ‘criminals’ and ‘guilty’ as Stellar Kart put it, we are reminded of the grace and love of God that covers all of that. With the song technique of contrast being employed in both songs, I myself am able to rest in thanks of God for His sacrifice, knowing that while I myself may still be struggling with both sides of myself even til the day I die, I know for sure that I’ll be made whole in heaven. The powerful chorus that gives us hope and certainly as Michael asserts of ‘…who can take our hallelujah…’, a rhetorical question that gives us 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 moves on to one of my favourite songs on the whole EP, ‘Rise’.

With light acoustic guitars, Michael invites us to be part of this poignant song as we listen to humble proclamations declared out 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. Gang vocals and an enthusiastic atmosphere are captured by the bridge as we are met with an exclaiming moment of how there’s ‘…no more sickness, no more pain, he makes all things new, forever changed, He is risen, He will reign, death is conquered in Jesus’s name…’ Ending the album with ‘Alive’, a toe-tapping banjo infused album ender 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…’, and ‘What Would Jesus Undo’, a poignant 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; Michael is able to sing past the pop and deliver thought-provoking songs like these 5. As confronting as the words are, we are given something to think about, in how ‘…the things we do in His name, I wonder if He shakes His head…if we’re supposed to love, I wonder why we judge, when grace has graced us too, when it comes down to me and you, what would Jesus undo?…’ 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; More Like a Lion is a great facilitator of these thoughts and hopefully discussions. Well done Michael for the last two melodies, some of the best written songs in the last half of 2013 so far!

Overall: 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 5 song EP 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. With these 5 tracks giving us hopefully a teaser into the music Michael makes in the future, this 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 so far!

RIYL: Third Day, Red Roots, needtobreathe, Matt Maher, Rhett Walker Band

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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