Band: The Modern Post (Bandcamp/iTunes)
Title: Grace Alone
Label: Mars Hill Music
Release Date: 08/14/12
Reviewer: Josh Hamm
- Just As I Am
- Grace Alone
- Before The Throne
- Amazing Grace (God Of Grace)
- White As Snow
Dustin Kensrue has some very big shoes to fill with The Modern Post. His own. The acclaimed frontman of Thrice has a very high standard to live up to. Dustin was lauded for penning lyrics which were not preachy or overt yet still had depth and were able to address faith, God, life, and everything in-between. This trait has not carried over into The Modern Post. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.
Thrice was reaching out to a secular market, and The Modern Post is a church based worship group. The purpose of the group is to lead people into worship, and the type of lyrics featured in Thrice wouldn’t be appropriate. The lyrics reflect the need for straightforward meaning. However, don’t think this means that Grace Alone is just another cheesy, cliché ridden worship album. Don’t make that mistake, because it’s not.
While I would enjoy some more original or unique lyrics, what I do appreciate is that Dustin has not written all of the songs himself: three are old hymns with lyrical depth which have stood the test of time, one is a cover of Jon Foreman’s “White As Snow” from his Winter album, and one is an original work. There’s a beauty in classic hymns which I think can be overlooked by some modern churches, and it’s always refreshing to hear some in a new way, even if it seems like there’s an overabundance of hymn covers these days. Thematically though, is where Grace Alone truly differs from the rest of modern music: it’s not about what we can do, or what we promise to do for God, it’s about what God has done for us and our salvation through – you guessed it – grace alone.
Musically, it’s a bit of a departure from what one would expect from Dustin Kensrue: rather than a post-rock indie sound, it’s synth-laden and heavy on the bass and drums with an 80s vibe; yet it still retains some of that rough indie rock feel, mostly due to his signature vocals. The bass and percussion, played by brothers Phil and Lee Neujahr, is superb throughout. They, combined with Jonny Sandu on the keys, provide a great vigorous and uplifting sound. It’s an interesting direction, yet I would have wanted more variety in the songs.
“Just As I Am” is the perfect opener, and my favourite song on the album, with a driving beat and featuring great lyrics: “Just as I am, though tossed about, /With many conflicts, many doubts/Fights and fears within, without.” The next track, “Grace Alone,” is the sole completely original one, and I think it stands up well to the others. It uses enough familiar phrases and words for a church setting, but it never settles for clichés. There’s the “Before the Throne,” which I think must be some sort of requisite for hymn covers, I’ve heard it done so many times. Still, the lyrics never fail to move me in some way, and the Modern Post’s musical style gives it a fresh sound. “Amazing Grace (God Of Grace)” missed the bar for me, the vocals didn’t quite work for me and the musical style began to wear on me a bit. There wasn’t enough variety. I enjoyed “White As Snow” for its slower build up and reverberating guitar, it was a nice break from the rest of the album stylistically and it ends on a great note.
Overall: It may not be groundbreaking, but Grace Alone is a solid worship release which will be sure to capture attentive Christian audiences with the meaningful lyrics and perhaps hook some secular audience due to the quality of the music. It’s clear that Dustin and the rest of The Modern Post are committed to serving God and the community through their music, and their passion shows in their music. It’s a great addition to the worship market, but there’s room for improvement. There’s a lot of potential here, but they can do a lot more than what we’ve seen.
RIYL: Thrice, Dustin Kensrue, The Cure, Nonparell, Mars Hill Music