- Lift My Life Up
- In Your Hands
- Walking Away
- Bury the Workman
After releasing their debut EP June last year, pop-soul Christian quartet Unspoken have been quickly climbing up the radio charts with their hit song ‘Who You Are’. One of my favourite EP releases of 2012, this band formed in the Dominican Republic are able to infuse contemporary Christian music with their Caribbean heritage (with two of their members from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico). On the same record label as other respected artists like Aaron Shust, Jason Gray and Andrew Peterson; Unspoken’s flair to give us soulful pop a la Newworldson or Jimmy Needham is one of their greatest assets, with many listeners responding positively to their heartfelt tracks, myself included. Releasing their full album next year February, this 5 song EP is enough for Unspoken fans to enjoy and mull over til next year, with the collection of 5 songs reminding us that God has given everything He has for us, and our natural response ought to be that of surrender, and lifting our life up to say ‘…have Your way in me…’ (‘Lift My Life Up’). A breakout band that ought to be on the considered alongside Rhett Walker Band, Moriah Peters, For King and Country and Lindsay McCaul as the nominations for the New Artist of the Year at the 2013 Dove Awards; Unspoken’s release is a surprise and a welcomed addition to one of my favourite albums/EP’s of June 2013. From pop anthems ‘Lift My Life Up’ to the reggae-sounding EP ender ‘Bury The Workman’, there is something for anyone who loves CCM, or just likes something unique and soul-orientated.
‘Lift My Life Up’ is the first radio single from the new EP, and certainly one of my favourite songs from the year so far. Full of hope, power and emotion; the song, co-written with Seth Mosley and Jason Ingram (who in my opinion, are some of the most respected song-writers and producers within the Christian music industry), reminds us of God’s faithfulness to us during the moments of our past and struggle, and thus, we ought to trust Him, even in the places where it doesn’t or can’t even make sense. The opening words of Chad declaring that ‘…You’ve brought me this far so why would I question You now…’ reminds myself about the Job situation, and how when everything was taken away from him, he still trusted God and remained faithful to His Saviour, Creator and Friend. Paying homage to hymns like ‘It is Well’ and ‘Take My Life’, Unspoken have delivered once again to show listeners what it means to ultimately trust- to give up control and place it in the Lord’s hands. Something that may not necessarily come naturally so those who often doubt or worry as to whether Christ really is faithful to us, this song is a gentle, powerful, firm and declaratory reassurance through contemporary pop and percussion loops of the freedom we can receive once we lay down our struggles and burdens and surrender to His will. Surrender, both in times of serenity and in times of chaos, is something ought to be practiced as we place our worries at the cross and let God have His way in us, shaping our hearts to become like His.
‘Bury the Workman’, the last song on the EP, is possibly the most confronting of all, and the most musically diverse. Featuring banjos, handclaps, backing vocals and a mowtown-like musical atmosphere, we are told scenarios, sometimes horrific, of what became of the followers of Christ during the times of the early church. Running through the different ways these followers of Christ died (through crucifixion, stoning etc.), we are reminded of just how hard being a Christian can sometimes be. As spoken about quite compellingly by bass player Jon Lowry; ‘…we were in a church service when the pastor said this quote, ‘Bury the workman, but the work will go on.’ It reminds me of Mark 13:31, which says heaven and earth will pass away but his word will remain forever. It’s kind of like an anthem for the church as being part of something that’s bigger than ourselves. Death can’t stop it. It goes on whether or not we are there to do it, or someone else. Triumph in life, and triumph in death…’ Sobering to know and understand that our lives are just as fallible as the next person, to be a Christian in today’s society as and is nothing compared to what the early Christians endured and suffered. Thanks ought to be shown towards God for the lives we lead, yet it also makes us wonder. If Peter, Stephen, and all the other early followers of Christ were willing to die for their faith, what actions can we take to ensure that our faith doesn’t slip into the realm of comfortableness and consumerism? Challenging yet also a call to action, ‘Bury the Workman’ cries out a sense of unity, that even if our lives are cut short while delivering God’s message of hope and salvation, the work of Jesus will continue, with Christ’s love and hope for the world moving forward as we see His kingdom come on Earth as it is and will be in Heaven for years and decades to come!
Throughout the rest of the 5 song EP, Unspoken remind us of many relevant and often overlooked things we need to understand if we can truly be the people Christ as set us free to be and become. ‘Everything’ is a three minute gem full of hope and honesty, light guitars and an infectious electric guitar hook, as I listen to the intro that reminds me so much of the introduction for Newsboys’ ‘Lord I Don’t Know’. With the song’s theme derived from Matthew 6 and how we ought to seek first the kingdom of God and then everything else will be added to us according to our hearts desire and where they are at; lead singer Chad discusses the importance of the song, and that each one of us ought to ‘…make God your primary concern and live righteously. I don’t know what’s going to come of my family or my career, and I’m certainly not going to figure it out today, but I know that if I give my life and surrender this day, I will be setting myself up to have peace and not anxiety, because I’m not worrying about tomorrow, I’m trusting God today…’ Often worry grabs a hold of sometimes even the calmest of us; and this song is a testament and a reminder that we have everything and need of nothing if we are in Christ Jesus. ‘In Your Hands’ is a surrender song as we give up everything that ties us down and place them at the feet of Christ, as Unspoken channels newworldson especially in this track; while the piano infused ‘Walking Away’ collides together gospel and blues to give an honest track that’s similar in theme to TobyMac’s ‘Lose My Soul’, as we discover that even if we amass up everything in this world, we can still feel dry and empty. ‘Walking Away’ shows us that drastic turnaround people can have when they encounter the grace given by Christ- walking away knowing the peace that passes all understanding is something that can easily be done if we have seen and tasted the love and glory of Christ and changed from the inside out, rather than trying to walk away from it all first and then seek after Him. A track that’s certain to create an impact on those who listen, well done Unspoken for one of my favourite songs on the 5 track EP.
Overall: Unspoken’s new digital EP releasing on June 25th is something worthy to be purchased by anyone fans of their previous EP work, or if you enjoy similar artists like Chris August, newworldson and Jimmy Needham. While these men with Caribbean roots may not necessarily be the most popular artists in today’s Christian music industry, their hearts are hopeful, honest, vulnerable and encouraging, with these 5 songs destined to touch many lives in weeks and months to come. Releasing their full-length album in February 2014, both this EP and Get To Me in 2012 showcase the talent of Unspoken, as we gear up to listen to one of the most underrated bands of the year so far. Releasing on the same day as Skillet’s Rise, Unspoken’s The World is Waking EP is something that in my opinion, has done just enough to peak a little interest by listeners who may not want to listen to Skillet’s latest album. From the band’s latest single to their poignant ‘Bury the Workman’, each of these tracks have merit and wisdom, as we hear 5 songs that encapsulate the theme of everyday struggles in the Christian life. Well done guys for such an emotional and enjoyable album, and one of the standout EPs of the last few months!
RIYL: Jimmy Needham, Salvador, newworldson, Chris August