Album Review :
The Apprentice - Oh the Slavery Comfort Brings

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Artist: The Apprentice

Album: Oh, the Slavery Comfort Brings

Label: Future Destination Records

Release Date: December 14, 2010

Reviewer: Eric Pettersson


1. Por Monque De
2. Nyquil Knights
3. A New Coat
4. Dime Store Gin
5. Not Giving In
6. Oh the Slavery Comfort Brings Part 1
7. Oh the Slavery Comfort Brings Part 2

For their fifth release, Oh the Slavery Comforts Brings finds The Apprentice at their most high-concept. This time around, their understated indie-rock and jangly country folk sounds are aimed at one central message: a life spent in pursuit of comfort is no life at all. Spending all our time working for more safety, comfort, and convenience leads to the opposite of our intended goals. Rather than producing the desired better life, it leaves us feeling empty and meaningless, which we try to fill with more stuff, repeating the cycle all over again by further isolating us from true human connection. This dire situation is why rock concerts often feel so spiritual for some of us, because it breaks us out of our comfortable numbness and shocks us with close contact to other people and, if you’re in the mosh pit, even puts us in some level of physical danger. Of course The Apprentice are not saying that a rock concert is the answer to all life’s problems. Rather, they point to a more genuinely spiritual solution of the war between “death and life, dark and light, truth and lies.” Yet sometimes we know the solution and still lack the courage to move forward. As the band says in part one of the title tracks, “You set the captives free, but they choose to stay.” Part two looks for more dramatic intervention, softly and emotionally sung over an acoustic guitar, “I think I’m ready for you to crash through the clouds.” The song builds with a repeated “hallelujah,” slowly adding electric guitars, drums, and eventually a full choir as the word is sung over and over. It is the perfect ending, reminding us of our hope in God after looking at some of the bleaker aspects of modern life and culture, closing with the line, “And we’ll all be made new.”

Overall: If this band bored you in the past, it’s because you weren’t listening close enough. Oh the Slavery Comfort Brings would be on my best of 2010 list if I hadn’t returned to IVM just in time to miss the deadline. It’s great music with a great message, and on a side not “Dime Store Gin” is one of the best Americana tunes I’ve heard all year.