Band: Sow & Tether
Album: Stripes Speak Out
Reviewer: Brody B
- Constant Surrender
- All For Love
- Holy Exchange
- The Innocent
- How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
- Stripes Speak Out
Praise music is a strange beast for me. Usually I need to find the perfect balance of skilled musicians that are able to make intelligent and interesting music all the while, retaining worshipful and insightful lyrics. What’s more, the music can not be too complicated to take away from the worshipfulness and the lyrics can not be too “dumbed down” and simple.
This is a hard order to fill, and perhaps a little too demanding on my part , but let me say, Sow & Tether have heard my cries and delivered and effort that is insightful, worshipful, and interesting. “Stripes Speak Out” is a bold and beautiful EP that is filled with life and a fiery passion for worship, all rolled into a neat six song album.
Constant Surrender is the most straightforward track on the album. The opener starts out slow enough, with soft crooning and ambient guitars and keys working to create a beautiful atmosphere. Soon enough the kick drum breaks the silence as it makes way for a soaring chorus. The combination of keys and guitar leads post chorus are also just enough of a musical flair to add great flavor to the track.
All For Love is a bit of a slower jam than it’s predecessor. Key boards, subtle guitars, and steady tom work on the drums lay the foundation for this stunning piece of music. Don’t let the initial softness fool you though, as the chorus still packs a punch with overdriven guitars and powerful drums. The track really packs an emotional punch during the bridge as soaring vocals proclaim, “We have been reborn!” while echoing background chants refrain, “We were dead without you / We live free within you”.
Musically, The Innocent is probably the most “CCM” offering on the album. The track comes off very radio friendly and catchy, which is not a bad thing. The intelligently written lyrics of the chorus will be stuck in your head for days, “Taken as Your own /So we could be blameless /And shameless at Your throne /Taken as Your own /You made us sons, washed by blood /Your glory shown”. The background chanting adds a great touch to the overall feel of the track as well.
Beginning with piano and guitar work similar to something to be found on a Sigur Ros album, Holy Exchange serves as a wonderful track to simply sit back and close your eyes to while on repeat. The music stays simple and mesmerizing up until vocalist Hunter Bobo exclaims, “The cross of Christ has overcome!”. After that point, the tempo stays more upbeat and driving, leaning more on powerful rhythm sections than extensive lead work.
Sow & Tether’s version of How Deep The Father’s Love For Us is, simply put, a work of art. The track effortlessly weave in and out of powerful chords, to intricate leads. All the while, the main focus of the track still lays on the powerful lyrics of the classic hymn. The climax of the track finds all the members chanting, “Why should I gain from His reward? /I cannot give an answer /But this I know with all my heart /His wounds have paid my ransom”.
The title track, Stripes Speak Out, starts rather ethereal with soft acoustic guitars that gently pick soothing notes while subtle piano and echoing electric guitars weave about in the background. Hunter Bobo truly shines in this track as his voice swells and recedes with the ebb and flow of the gentle music. The female vocals that come in during the second verse compliment Hunter’s voice perfectly. The bridge of the track is the high point as it begins in a subdued fashion, but with each refrain of, “God came as man, Emmanuel Emmanuel / And died our death in the Father’s will /Father’s will /Walked from His tomb, the church will sing /Church will sing /All glory to Christ, our living King” the music becomes more powerful as the meaning behind the message truly sinks in.
Something I would love to see the band play with in the future would be to attempt to perhaps tackle some instrumental interludes like counterparts The Ember Days and Ascend the Hill are apt to put into songs. While this isn’t essential, and certainly not radio friendly, I think this would allow for very intimate and engrossing moments. I think some instrumental sections would also space things out a bit and mix things up a bit.
Overall: Sow & Tether have created a wonderful six song EP that will allow the listener to slip into a place of worship, all the while giving those with a with an appreciation for skillful music something to delve into. Be on the look out for these guys to make an impression in the world of worship music with their interesting music and intelligent, heartfelt lyrics.
RIYL: The Ember Days | Ascend the Hill | All Sons & Daughters