Album Review :
Oceans Above - Oceans Above

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Artist: Oceans Above
Album: Oceans Above
Label: Sparrow Records
Release Date: April 24, 2007
Review by: Eric Pettesson

Tracklist:
1. Beautiful One
2. O Praise Him (All This for a King)
3. Gazing
4. Rain Down
5. Filled with Your Glory
6. Blessed Be Your Name
7. God of Wonders
8. In Christ Alone
9. Love Break Me
10. Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful
11. Everything about You
12. Forever
13. We Fall Down
14. You and I
15. Jesus’ Blood

“Holy faith! Why didn’t I hear about this thing before?” A promo copy of this album and a simple looking press sheet entered my mailbox one day, and I regret to say that I passed over it many times before giving it a chance earlier this week, and I am terribly, terribly sorry I waited so long. Honestly, it’s hard to begin to explain the joy I get listening to Oceans Above. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Brandon told me to review this album, so eventually I popped it into my laptop and began to read the bio. But who could blame me? I recognized more than half these song names from church services, and it’s on Sparrow Records of all places. But then, I started to listen to the record and read that the head of this project was none other than Chad Howart of Paper Route.

Oceans Above is a worship album, no doubt. The songs were well chosen, including some that were new to me (“Rain Down,” “Everything about You,” etc) and some of my current favorites (“In Christ Alone,” “Blessed Be Your Name,” etc). But the music, Oh the music, this is something new to behold! Well, maybe not entirely, but it is in this context. Musically, Oceans Above is well-crafted electronic indie pop. This is the ultimate iPod hipster music taken and used for songs we are used to hearing in a style more befitting Christian soccer-moms. And yet, we still love these songs, don’t we? Because regardless of that fact that they don’t fit our typical musical mold, these are the songs we sing in church or wherever else that help us connect with God and sing praise to Him. And that is exactly what happens with Oceans Above. It’s the same songs, but now they’re done in a way that reminds you of a man by the name of Ben Gibbard. But don’t worry, just because The Postal Service are one of the few popular names in this sub-genre doesn’t mean that every band sounds exactly like them. Personally, I believe that this style is going to be the next rising trend among the pop-punk-gone-emo-gone-indie crowd, and I am amazed that this time around, the Christian music scene picked up on it at such an early stage. The majority of the songs are sung through a soft male voice, although there is a female voice doing background vocals on several tracks and taking the lead for a few. The arrangements are done reverently and inspirationally, as well as creatively and uniquely.

Some may worry that the songs will lose their original feel after being changed so much. This is true and it is not. It no longer feels like music you wouldn’t normally listen to (unless you hate this sort of music, in that case I feel sorry for you), but it does maintain the same melodies and spiritual content as before. They are recognizable, but they are now wearing tight jeans and a band shirt instead of khakis and a polo. Listening to this release has been an extremely impressive experience for me, not to mention spiritually uplifting, and I hope that all of you can join me in saying so. My only note of constructive criticism for Chad is that next time around he should consider doing original works instead of covers. But be that as it may, these covers are very well done.

9/10

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(NOTE: I understand not all churches are the same. I am working with extreme generalities here. Please do not be offended by anything I’ve said that doesn’t fit your experiences. I’ve only been referencing what I believe to be the “average” church in this country.)