Album Review :
Royal Tailor - Royal Tailor

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Artist: Royal Tailor
Title: Royal Tailor
Label: Essential Records
Release Date: 10/22/13
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. Got that Fire
  2. Jesus Love (feat. TobyMac)
  3. Original
  4. You are My Rescue
  5. Love Song
  6. Ready Set Go (feat. Capital Kings)
  7. Remain
  8. Start Over
  9. Making Me New
  10. Give Me Faith
  11. Fight For Freedom (Let the Walls Fall)

Since releasing their debut album Black and White in 2011 with hit songs like ‘Hold Me Together’, ‘Death of Me’, ‘Freefall’ and ‘Make a Move’; Christian pop/hip hop group Royal Tailor have been delivering powerful songs of worship and radio-friendly melodies certain to make anyone who hears the songs a fan of them, with their debut album receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best CCM/gospel album in the year of 2011. One of my favourite 2011 new artists (alongside Dara Maclean and Jamie Grace who debuted their albums that year too); lead singer Tauren Wells and the rest of the band are now ready to release their self titled second album. While I initially thought that the band was going to be a one-album-wonder (I made this summation around mid-year, and since I hadn’t really heard much developments about albums throughout that time, I guess it was a pretty fair statement); the band surprised me out of the blue with their single ‘Remain’ (which was sorely missed from WOW Hits 2014). Releasing their album in a few days’ time on October 22nd; Tauren reminds us of his and the band’s motivation for the album and what they want listeners to obtain from it, and how …we want to encourage them to get ready and go get plugged into their community, in their schools, in their churches and make a difference. We want people to know you can be who you want to be, you can achieve what you want to achieve and realize we’ve all been created for something greater than ourselves…’ From hopeful melody ‘Remain’, which speaks about God love being the only thing that remains steadfast and true, even when everything is fallen around us; to the Capital Kings co-led ‘Ready, Set, Go’; a pop-electronic effort that brings evangelism to the fore and encourages us to share God’s love wherever we are; the band, with influences from Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson; have set out to give us an album of 11 songs that provides us with encouragement, God-breathed lyrics of purpose, identity and clarity, as well as music fun to dance to as the album hopefully reaches a wide audience in terms of age bracket and musical tastes!

‘Remain’ released to iTunes in August without warning, and what resulted was a powerful 4 minute 28 second electronic musically infused track full of uplifting moments as Tauren delivers a song sung from God’s point of view. Starting off the song with an electronic drum loop, Tauren is able to speak to listeners in a way that makes this song certain to be one of my favourites in 2013. Declaring that even in the moments when ‘…the sky could fall, the ground could shake, the stars burn out and seasons change, but time will pass and beauty fade, but all my love will remain…’; we are given comfort in the words of how God’s love for us will remain with us and for us, a promise we can hold onto during times when we may not even feel or even acknowledge God’s presence. With the guitars not overpowering the track, it is the drum beats and Tauren’s powerful and soothing vocal that create and make the track what it is- a melody certain to be a candidate for the 2014 Dove Awards for Song of the Year. Vocally reminding myself of electronic duo Capital Kings; Royal Tailor deliver an anthem that’s one of my favourite songs ever from them.

Also ironically doing a duet with Capital Kings on ‘Ready, Set Go’ (considering that they did a duet with them also on ‘Ready for the Other Side’, a track on Capital Kings’s self titled debut back in January 2013); the pop quartet and the electronic duo seem to work great in tandem as each of the band members give to us powerful moments of consideration through electronic loops, guitars, and an atmosphere of dance, especially through the enjoyable, yet equally dizzy music video they premiered at the beginning of September (alongside the single of the track available on iTunes around the same time). With the music video delivering some ingeniousness from the producers of how they placed the video camera in one spot, and used different camera angles in delivering the band members as well as fast paced camera shots to make it seem they were all together in one shot when they weren’t; the song speaks about evangelism in a compelling and hopefully encouraging way, as Tauren powerfully reminds us that ‘…oh, You put my life in motion, Your love makes me want to give my all, ready set go…so love, I’m not holding back anymore, like a ninja ready to explode…’, something to consider as we understand that is only when we love without reservation and holding back that we can truly impact and change the world we are in. Well done Royal Tailor for these two songs, both my personal favourites and great singles from a self-titled album destined to become one of my favourite pop-electronic albums of the year so far.

With Royal Tailor able to give to us great rock anthems coupled with reflective melodies that will please any CCM enthusiast like myself, the band presents some great tracks to listen to whenever you’re on long drives and you want to turn up the music very loud, as well as others where you can just listen to amidst reflection on the couch. ‘Got That Fire’ is the first track on the album, and a great song full of electronic keyboard and synths to bring listeners in to hear the band, as Tauren gives us a message of us as Christians being ignited and on fire for Christ. Though the song can be greatly repetitive through the somewhat annoying chorus (if you’ve heard the song for as many times as I have) of how ‘…we got that fire, nah nah nah nah nah nah, yeah, we got that fire, nah nah nah nah nah nah, yeah…’; the message is still great, and though it’s somewhat simple in how we ought to understand that we have a fire from God inside of us ready to be let out as we love each other and our Father in heaven; it’s equally profound as we understand that even the knowledge of the existence of God’s presence in us can be revolutionary to many who’ll listen to this track. Featuring TobyMac and one of my favourite TobyMac collaborations with artists since ‘Good Morning’ by Mandisa; ‘Jesus Love’ is certain to be one of the Royal Tailor classics in years ahead as both Tauren and Toby trade vocals and harmonies in a track musically reminiscent and reminding me of ‘Boomin’ or even ‘Jesus Freak’. Full of electric guitars and a powerful rap by Toby that reminds us of how relentless and pursuing the love of Jesus can be, what it lacks in length (it’s only a tad over three minutes) it makes up for in gusto, powerfulness, emotion and enthusiasm. The song ‘Jesus Love’ is just as infectious as the love of Jesus itself, and sooner or later, listeners of the track and album will be able to powerfully and collectively declare that ‘…no greater love, than Jesus love, His love’s more than enough, I’m lost without it, now I’ve found it, all about it, Jesus love…’

Throughout the rest of the album, the band settle in a groove at providing uplifting tracks with musical backdrops alluding to pop acoustic material, and something that while it may not necessarily be the band’s exact forte (I actually prefer their upbeat material rather than their slow reflective songs); it does serve a purpose amidst listeners of pop-radio songs. ‘Love Song’, presenting a similar theme as Third Day’s ‘Love Song’ that was recorded way back in 1996, is one that’s certain to be played on the radio in the near future, as Royal Tailor present a theme of us being captured by God’s love as it pours over every aspect of our lives. With looping percussion and a powerful drum beat, this radio friendly track is sure to lift our spirits as we are aware of the song of love God is singing over us and the people around us as we share in the love of Christ to those we meet. Both ‘Making Me New’ and ‘You Are My Rescue’ each speak about the similar themes of us thanking God for making us new each day as we realise and are able to respond to the sacrifice and rescue effort God has extended to us as we choose to live in that daily; yet while each of the music behind the songs are great in terms of production (emphasising an electronic pop sound), the lyrics and themes have been done before by other artists. Despite the seemingly ‘generic’ themes of these two tracks, both ‘Making Me New’ and ‘You are My Rescue’ are great to listen to if you enjoy radio friendly tracks that remind us of our identity in Christ.

Tauren Wells does his best to try and impersonate (in a way of paying tribute and homage) Michael Jackson in ‘Original’, as he unveils a theme of being true to who we are in Christ as we live each day not conforming to the standards of the world. You can hear his influences of Michael (and to some extent Justin Timberlake) especially in this track, amidst all the light electric guitars and a distinct beat that reminds me of something inspired by 80s music. Pulling it off, Tauren is able to channel Michael pretty well, as ‘Original’ sits near the top of one of my favourite songs on the album. Ending the album with the acoustically driven ‘Give Me Faith’, a prayer from us to God as we unveil a longing for Jesus to provide the faith for us to live our days with wonder, expectation, excitement and longing; as well as the epic 6 minute ‘Fight For Freedom (Let the Walls Fall)’, a melody that is certain to inspire many to stand up for their beliefs in a song that proclaims that we as Christians (as well as those who long to stand up for a just cause) declare that ‘…there’s more for us out there but we gotta start right here, so take the limits off, no fear, we will, we will fight for freedom…’; ‘Fight for Freedom’ is a great way to end the album, with the song fast becoming one of my all-time favourite Royal Tailor tracks ever. Even adding in the famous ‘…glory glory hallelujah…’ stanza in the track, this is a perfect way to end an album all about identity, declaration, and standing up for your own beliefs. Well done Tauren and the band, for all the songs, and especially for the album ender, arguably my favourite track on Royal Tailor.

Overall: Royal Tailor, after their buzz following their first album, seemingly disappeared from their song and recording scene for a while, only to come back with a self titled album that’s certainly one of my favourites to be released in October 2013. While they were sorely missed on WOW Hits 2014, expect the band to be represented on next year’s compilation, with either one of ‘Remain’, ‘Ready Set Go’, ‘Original’ or ‘Got that Fire’. With the album certain to find fans of artists like TobyMac, Abandon, even fans of Michael Jackson or Justin Timberlake; Royal Tailor’s second album is certain to provide them with more fans of their music. From the first radio single to the last epic album finisher, Royal Tailor is an album that’ll hopefully reach a wide audience with its unique and musically diverse tracks providing us with themes of hope and identity. Well done guys for this thought-out and well-delivered album!

RIYL: TobyMac, Capital Kings, Rush of Fools, Abandon

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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