Title: OBB EP
Label: Curb Records
Release Date: 1/8/13
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- All I Need is You
- Come on Home
- Song of a Saviour
- Through His Eyes
Signing to the Curb Records roster with fellow artists Plumb, Mikeschair and Natalie Grant, OBB are the newest band to release new material in 2013, with their 5 song EP being their first major record label record. Since gaining attention and popularity in 2009 ‘…when they were selected to be finalists in the National CBS Singing Family Face Off competition on The Early Show…’, OBB have managed to release Live, Life, Loving independently in 2009, and after 3 years and a record signing later, the Oswald Brothers from Atlanta, Georgia are back with one of my favourite EPs of the year, with their songs drawing parallels lyrically, artistically and musically to other artists like Tenth Avenue North, Anthem Lights and Abandon. From their humble beginnings as a teen-pop band a few years ago, there is a great level of maturity beyond their years (lead singer Zach is 21, guitarist Jacob, 19; and drummer Nich, 18) as I hear these 5 songs. From speaking about the prodigal son in the moving melody ‘Come on Home’ to the electro-synth opener ‘All I Need is You’; these 3 brothers of God have been able to bring to listeners a collection of encouraging and uplifting songs of redemption and renewal, and a certain purchase if you enjoy contemporary pop-rock by Tenth Avenue North and Anthem Lights in particular.
‘All I Need is You’ is the first track on the EP, and from the first electric guitar strum (that incorporates a bit of country music in the background) as well as the backing vocals repeating the phrase ‘…all I need is You…’, we are met with an electronically prominent song full of synths and digitally enhanced vocals and other sounds. Full of dynamic melodies that remind us of a song that may be a slower dance number that could be played at parties; OBB have given us a timely reminder that ‘…everyone that has a heart that’s burning for more, a greater need than this world can ever afford, and You are the one we’ve been searching for…’ Christ is who our souls long for- the created following the creator, shown that no matter how far we hide, run, mask or deter from the longing, it will always be there unless we acknowledge that Christ came to give us life and life eternal. Such a simple concept of love and grace given by the Father that we need to grasp before we start living our lives as God intended; this 4 minute song is full of so much biblical truths and great encouragement as Zach relays to the listeners that ‘…nothing satisfies like the love that I have found in You alone…’ With a voice very reminiscent of Tenth Avenue North frontman Mike Donehey, Zach’s honest passion and heartfelt enthusiasm in ‘All I Need is You’ is able to be carried through the remainder of the EP. ‘Through His Eyes’, the last song on the EP, seems to be fitting as the EP closer, with a theme similar to that of ‘All I Need is You’. With Zach encouraging listeners that ‘…it’ll all make sense when you see your life through His eyes…’, we are drawn to the fact that sometimes Christ can move in our lives that we may not understand or even comprehend, but as we continue to trust that His ways are higher than ours, we can rest in the hope that our lives can be the fruit of the Lord’s work within us. With a kick drum beat and a light acoustic guitar, Zach declares that as we are free in Christ, we can rest and not fret or worry- a biblical allusion to Matthew 6:25-33, a sermon where Jesus gives us comfort in not worrying about our immediate futures but to place our faith and trust in Him. Well done OBB for these book-ended songs of freedom, acceptance, hope and transformation.
The remainder of the album is just as poignant and inspiring with OBB offering songs ranging in themes from forgiveness, reassurance and comfort; as well as a passionate declaration that our lives ought to be lived with a purpose and passion to spread hope and love to everyone that we meet. With what I think will be OBB’s most powerful and life-changing song for many listeners around the world, ‘Come on Home’ is a empathising melody- with Zach describing that many of us feel the same things- hurt, pain, discomfort, tragedy and heartache as we discover that we are not the only ones in this life that feel the way we do. With a light electric guitar, the lyrics are certainly accentuated, with Zach giving listeners a remedy in the lyrics that ‘…if you find that you’re not enough on your own, if you’re out there looking for love, come on home…’ A song that represents how the Father feels about us and how the love for His children will never waver or wane in spite of all our mistakes and shortcomings; the song transitions into ‘Song of a Saviour’, another ballad that provides listeners with the knowledge that even more than our friends and family, Christ will always be with us even if our earthly family or friends may fail to stick with us during the troubled times we can so often face. This acoustic pop song is one of OBB’s most heartfelt, and along with ‘Come On Home’, these two are my favourite songs on the EP. Such a humbleness is shown as Zach cries out from the point of view of God, giving hope to us and how ‘…I’ll never let you go, you’ll never be alone, open your eyes to the truth, I’ll take you from hurting to beautiful, broken to being whole, your heart is my greatest pursuit…’ With these lyrics implying a great vulnerability on behalf of OBB, these songs are filled with a transparency that places this EP as one of my favourite of January 2013.
Overall: One of the bands that I will certainly nominate for New Artist of the Year at the 2014 Dove Awards, OBB have offered us a 5 song collection full of lyrical treasures that can be extracted from them, no matter how many times they are cycled in music players. Never losing sight of their goal to ‘…be light, I wanna burn bright…spreading hope like a wildfire…’ (‘Wildfire’) to everyone that they talk to or meet on their travels; Zach, Nich and Jacob have reminded listeners of a God that is always redeeming and always here with us in every step of our road of life we travel upon. Fans of Tenth Avenue North and Anthem Lights will certainly be enjoying this record- and though they may not be as boy-bandish as Anthem Lights, or as recognisable as the band who wrote the hit song ‘By Your Side’; OBB have managed to provide a 5 song set that is able to set them onto a path as they forge their own fanbase in the CCM industry. With the central message of the album being hope that is offered through Christ, we are called as Christians to be God’s ambassadors on Earth, showing others unconditional love as Christ as given us. Curb Records have signed a great band and OBB are blessed to be on a well known roster with well-known artists, from Natalie Grant and Selah, to Plumb and MIKESCHAIR. With virtually no publicity (I stumbled upon this album on iTunes a few days ago), OBB EP is a gem and treasure to all those who listen. Well done guys for such an emotional and uplifting record.
RIYL: Tenth Avenue North, MIKESCHAIR, Abandon, Anthem Lights
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3