Album Review :
Third Day - Miracle

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Artist: Third Day
Title: Miracle
Label: Essential Records
Release Date: 11/6/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. Hit Me Like a Bomb
  2. Kicking and Screaming
  3. Your Love is Like a River
  4. I Need a Miracle
  5. You are My Everything
  6. For The Rest of My Life
  7. I Want to Believe in You
  8. The Victory
  9. Take Me Back
  10. Forever Yours
  11. Time’s Running Out on Me
  12. Morning Has Broken

Since their humble beginnings in 1992 playing in a garage and calling their band ‘Nuclear Hoedown’, Third Day have offered hope and healing in their albums and songs throughout their 20 year musical career. From songs like ‘Cry Out to Jesus’, ‘Your Love Oh Lord’, ‘King of Glory’, ‘My Hope is You’ and ‘Call My Name’; these four men of God have been reminding fans and other listeners (as well as themselves) of God’s great goodness and faithfulness in their lives. Readying their brand-new 2012 album release, Miracle provides listeners with a thematic element of pressing on to the things that really matter in our lives- the moments when you just want to stand for it and make a commitment because you know it is right. Pairing up with mainstream producer Brendan O’Brien, who has produced albums for artists like The Fray, The Killers and Anberlin, Third Day have been able to travel back to their rock roots, providing more of an acoustic driven sound that may be a venture away from the southern rock heard in their previous album Move. Nevertheless, Third Day’s 16th album (12th studio release) is a must for die-hard fans of the band (who even call themselves Gomers, inspired by a song ‘Gomer’s Theme’ on Conspiracy No. 5), as well as those who just love rock music with an inspirational edge. From heartfelt ballad ‘I Need a Miracle’ to acoustic rock melody ‘Kicking and Screaming’, as well as a nicely added rendition of the Cat Stevens’ classic ‘Morning Has Broken’; Miracle gives a …unique opportunity once again to speak into people’s lives.  We’re not here to give you all the answers. We’re here to say ‘Just hang on a little longer’…’

‘I Need a Miracle’ is the first radio single from the album, and is certainly one of the most poignant melodies on the record. Speaking about various scenarios about how everyday men and women find hope, comfort and solace in radio during moments of hurt, despair and uncertainly, lead singer Mac Powell delivers the inspiration behind the song, and how a conversation with a couple in New Jersey after a concert gave Mac some insight into how …[the couple’s son] was going to kill himself, but he turned on the radio and he heard ‘Cry Out To Jesus’. It literally changed his heart and gave him encouragement to keep going. When you hear a story like that, it just blows you away…’ As we are met with the song’s heartfelt and emotional beginnings, we are able to appreciate it’s emotional and inspirational meaning as we listen to Mac and his distinctively gruff and country-sounding voice cry out ‘…well no matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done, there will come a time when you can’t make it on your own…’ Acknowledging that we can’t do everything on our own is a big step in becoming vulnerable and opening up to our family and friends, even to God. The hope in knowing that the Lord is always with us and able to help is a great encouragement, with this song playing it’s part in helping, as we discover that we’re not alone in our despair, hurt and calamity. Well done Third Day for such an honest song, complete with a light acoustic guitar and keyboards, as well as being an instrument of encouragement, healing and restoration.

With so much of the band’s new material on this album taking on a double meaning (either singing to God or to a loved one) because of Brendan O’Brien’s mainstream influence, Miracle offers up hope and encouragement as the band seeks to influence more of the mainstream market with their songs of perseverance, trust and inspiration. ‘Kicking and Screaming’ is an acoustic song with some light percussion and an ‘ohhh’ backing vocal, as Mac describes a relationship, which can either be interpreted as one between us and God or between friends or family. Either way, Mac’s commitment is clearly shown, as he declares that ‘…no one can keep me from Your side, and if they ever even try, they’d have to drag me away, kicking and screaming…’ Amidst all the acoustics, this is a bold statement to say- to stand on holding to what we believe and love the ones that we do, to the point when the only thing that will separate will be by force! It takes courage, guts and Christ within us to make such decisions, as we continue to develop our own relationships, with each other and with God as well. ‘Hit Me Like a Bomb’, on the surface, may lyrically seem like Mac accusing a friend or loved one for messing up his life, asking them- ‘…do you know what you’ve done when you hit me like a bomb?…’; however as we delve in deeper, we understand that within our relationship with Christ, there are moments when it may seem like God often ‘hits us’- just like a bomb, out of nowhere, often destroying the plans we so often make and always for His greater glory and our overall good. As we listen across the great guitar work of Mark Lee, we are encouraged to vent out our frustrations, and ultimately trust God in the moments when everything starts to fall apart. Well done Mac for these two rock songs bound to be promoted in the mainstream circle (‘Hit Me Like a Bomb’ was performed on the Jay Leno Show on Friday 2nd November), as we continue to understand and comprehend Christ’s unequivocal love for His creation.

With most of Miracle providing listeners with an honest portrayal of hope and perseverance as we hold on to the promises that God has spoken to us throughout our lives, it is the songs like ‘For the Rest of My Life’, ‘I Want to Believe in You’, ‘Forever Yours’ and ‘You are My Everything’ that showcase Mac’s strong vocals along with the thematic elements of trusting in God and longing to commit to something much more significant and important than our mundane lives we often lead. With a reverbing electric guitar and a big drum beat to create one of the most musically ingenious introductions on Miracle, ‘For the Rest of My Life’ is a commitment song, as we recount all of God’s mercies and grace upon our lives, thankful for His love and our trust as we declare that ‘…I can’t make it by myself, I want You and no one else for the rest of my life…’. ‘You are My Everything’ can be seen as Mac singing to his wife or another loved one, but as with most of these songs that have a certain double meaning, we are able to understand that Mac may also sing to God, declaring that He is our everything and wanting His light to come down and shine within us.

Moving on from this theme is both ‘Forever Yours’ and ‘I Want to Believe in You’, each showing the poignancy and hope presented in each melody. ‘Forever Yours’ speaks about death and the hope brought along with it, with Mac singing from the persona’s point of view, from heaven, and that ‘…there is a reason, for everything, there is hope, so don’t let go, there’s something more…’ As we are given the comfort that is needed in these difficult circumstances, that though life may not make sense, God is still going to walk beside us counselling us through our difficulties; we are given a choice to either believe or not in a gracious God and loving Father in the song ‘I Want to Believe in You’. Never shying away from their faith, Third Day seem to be the most overt in this song as they long for ‘…heaven [to] let your light shine down on me, open up my eyes so I can me, give me some faith so I believe in something…’ A bold statement that may lead to God shaking up our lives for us to see what He truly wants us to comprehend, this gospel faith-based song of meaning and believing is one of my highlights off Miracle. Well done Mac and the band for such hart-hitting and dynamic melodies of renewing and restoration.

Seeing the name ‘The Victory’ among the album track list made me suspicious that Third Day were going to cover Phil Wickham’s worship melody of the same name, but instead, listeners are given a 3 minute song of standing up for our beliefs in this guitar driven anthem of grit and determination. Inspired by the life of Billy Graham and how …he said, ‘This is what I believe and I’m standing on this truth and I’m not going to allow myself to think otherwise!’…’, listeners are encouraged to boldly assert their own faith. Though there was a change in pace in the bridge as the music was altered and rhythm slowed to a slightly disjointed feel, the song is nevertheless a reminder that ‘…I’ll run the race that needs to be run, I’ll fight the fight that needs to be won…’, with Christ helping us side-by-side in our journey of moving forward, pressing on, and running towards our goal and prize- our relationship with Christ. Third Day also tackle the concepts of how Christ’s love within us is able to heal the scars and wounds that we carry (‘Your Love is Like a River’), as well as describing the shortness of life and how the transientness of it needs to motivate us to fulfil our goals, dreams and passions (‘Time is Running Out on Me’). But it is the last track on the album; the hymn ‘Morning Has Broken’ popularised in the 1970s by Cat Stevens, that rounds out the album is a great fashion as we are reminded by this classic hymn that ‘…praise with elation, praise every morning, God’s recreation of the new day…’ As we are constantly assured that God continues to make all things new, complete in Himself through His Son as we are continuously moulded and shaped through circumstances to rely solely on Christ and His providence, we are in awe of His wonder and grace, and as Mac spontaneously sings out, across the excellent guitar work of Mark, that ‘…morning has broken like the first dawn, sing hallelujah, a new day is born…’, I personally am encouraged with anticipation as a new season (after university) awaits for me. Trusting that God has it all in His hands is a threading theme in the album, yet clearly definitive in their last track. Well done Third Day for such a compelling song!

Overall: Third Day have continued to remind listeners of their worth to Christ, particularly with songs like ‘Consuming Fire’, ‘Cry out to Jesus’, ‘Call My Name’ and ‘Children of God’, and certainly do not stop, with Miracle serving both the Christian and mainstream market as something unique and different, reminding listeners (whether they’re Christian or not) that someone loves them, even if it is just their friends and family. Never backing down from their faith even in their continual popularity on late talk shows with hosts like Jay Leno and Craig Fergusson; listeners are encouraged through Miracle to take a stand, sometimes to the point of being ridiculed for it. With a mixture of acoustics and electric guitar greatness, Third Day’s influence in both industries is still going strong, with heartfelt melodies ‘I Need a Miracle’ and ‘Your Love is Like a River’ expected to be promoted in months to come. One of the standout releases in the latter months of 2012; well done Third Day for such a hopeful and inspiring record about …pressing on and holding onto faith in the midst of doubt…’

RIYL: Kutless, needtobreathe, MercyMe, Sanctus Real

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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