Review by Joshua S. Murray
Today’s music scene is different. No longer is the world incapable of hearing music not produced by one of the major labels. A little searching on the internet will allow you to find a myriad of independent artists. This is great, of course, but that doesn’t mean the music is any good. Still, the cream tends to rise to the top. For example a number of artists owe much of their fandom to music discovery sites like purevolume and virb. Artists like Derek Webb and Radiohead have rocked the music scene with free or optional payment. The result? More people listening to more music forming more relationships and gaining a better appreciation for the heart of art.
Between Faith and Thought, an eclectic band with Lynchburg, VA ties is an example of a band that could (and perhaps should?) garner such a rabid following. A folk-tinged and somewhat experimental indie band with a vertical focus, this isn’t a cliché worship band – a visit to their virb will show you such band roles as “live art” and “poet.” With the free online release of their new EP, The Sea, Between Faith and Thought has put forth what a quality EP should be.
The Sea, as you might guess from the title, is a thematic disc (well… technically, it’s only available in mp3 format and not on a disc at this moment). Lyrically, every song has a connection to the sea, and musically, the wet reverb effects and organic compositions drive the feeling home. The EP includes five original songs and a cover of Thrice (whose recent work is an obvious influence on the songwriting). “Lift Your Sails” starts the album with a melding of acoustic and synthetic – a risk that pays off for most of the EP. It’s plaintive conversational song about finding rest in God and the strength to do the impossible in Him. One of the most outstanding tracks follows – a rendition of Psalm 93. Hauntingly beautiful, I can just imagine the psalmist being excited at such an arrangement. “Rocket to the Bottom of the Sea” takes the listener through a journey of drowning out the interference in our lives that keep us from an intimate relationship with our Creator. A personal highlight for me was “As I Swim Out.” It’s an intimate love song to the “Maker of the stars” pleading for graceful assurance. “The Tides” introduces a bit of harmony in the vocals – surprisingly the EP doesn’t employ those harmonies as much as it probably could have in other parts. The Sea concludes with a cover of Thrice’s recent single, “Digital Sea.” Now, if any band is my favorite, it’s Thrice – so I was curious to see how Micah Hasty and company would handle this song. They did this song justice, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table – a solid cover and tribute to a phenomenal and highly influential band; it helps that this song also fits the theme of the EP very well.
Overall, the Sea is a welcome listen. I’ve found myself listening to it repeatedly since it came out yesterday. As is the case with all EP’s, it’s relatively short, but it certainly gives you a lot of quality in that short amount of time. As far as criticisms go, I only have a few. I think the reverb effects do a very good job of creating the maritime atmosphere that was sought in the creation of this project, but they might have been just overdone. Micah has an outstanding voice but it was drowned out a bit (no pun intended… okay, well, maybe a little). Also, I know these guys can create some beautiful harmonies, so it would have been nice hear a bit more in that area. Still, this EP is well worth the download; and I’d dare say you’ll find yourself regularly listening to it for a long time. If it cost money to buy this EP, it’d be worth every penny – but the fact that it’s free gives you no excuse not to give them a chance. They may or may not explode in popularity, but one thing is for sure – this is music as music should be, from the heart of the artist.