Album: Charlie Hall: Flying Into Daybreak|
Street Date: January 24, 2006
Reviewed by: Stephanie
Buy it: PlanetWisdom
Charlie's third CD is one reflecting life when propelled into the dawn of light by love......Hall premiered the album on the 2006 Student Life Conference Tour, themed "Chasing Daylight." The core verse to the conference was John 9:4, when Jesus said to work while there was light before night came when no one could work. The album fit well with the spirit of the tour, as lyrically it is clearly inspired by a fervency for God.
However, Flying Into Daybreak is so musically masterful that it can still be appreciated by those who don't believe in God. Part of this is attributed to Hall's own talent [he has quite the knack for concise imagery in his lyrics] & that of the collaborative effort of he and his band, who in large part helped co-write songs on the album.
Another factor of the artistic success of this album is David Hodges' role producing it [he also played piano and sang background vocals on the album]; his experience building and layering songs is reflected in his past work as a member of Evanescence and the current frontman to Trading Yesterday.
The dynamics of the combination of these forces is evident in every song on the album:
1. Micah 6:8 - This is such a great song to begin the album with, particularly keeping the themes discussed earlier in mind. The title verse, according to the Message translation:
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to our neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don't take yourself too seriously--take God seriously.
Lyrically, this prayer of a song comes straight from the Scripture & calls the children of God to step up to God's challenge, even recognizing that God could do it on His own. By pointing that out, this song convicts the listener not only of God's power, but that He has asked us to do His work. "Micah 6:8" starts out just with just the acoustic rhythm for the first part of the intro, and then the full band kicks in. By the time the verse starts, it's just the basics again; this trade-off with the use of the electric guitar is used throughout the song to heighten the chorus and build through the bridge [the echo of "let justice come" blends well into the final choruses].
2. Marvelous Light - In what is fast becoming a popular worship song in churches, Hall uses simply stated truths relating to the album title; this is a very hard song to not be inspired by, and I actually have to keep myself from using quotes from the lyrics to explain it--I'd end up writing out the whole song. And I even thought I was tired of it after the conference; I am not. Hall's style and approach to worship music is sometimes reminiscent of David Crowder, this song in particular because of the simple, inspiring lyrics and synthesized background effects. The harmony in the chorus is also a strength of this song.
3. All My Love - In the first slow-tempo song on the album, Hall brings the energy down a notch to express a commitment to Christ. It's another example of relatively simple lyrics that encompass so much truth, but the best thing to recognize about this song is the bridge and the way it's built. I think it's another testament to the described collaborative effort, and it goes from just the piano and builds up with the drums and the chorus echoing in the background; the bridge lyrics are about recognizing God's rescue of us individually, and by the time "You have all my love" comes to the foreground again, it's impact is unmatched by many.
4. Song of the Redeemed - The album seamlessly flows back into high-energy, here's-a-song-to-clap-to mode with this song; the first verse features an awesome drum loop between lines that sadly was not continued throughout the song, but the later verses are musically layered so well in a different way that they stands on their own without the loop. It's hard to get bored with this song, because the verses, pre-chorus, chorus and bridge all sound so different while still blending together so well that you almost don't notice it--another testament to the talent of the artist. And in regards to the lyrical quality of the song, it should just go without saying that Hall and those who co-wrote [at times, if any] with him brilliantly incorporated biblical truths to assist in bringing the heart of the listener to one of worship until it is said otherwise.
5. Your Glory Endures Forever - Again slowing down for another calmer song, Hall takes the time to remind God of all He is. It's very simple musically, and then becomes more layered towards the end of the song--seemingly to emphasize the [also simple] lyrical content. It's a very easy worship song.
6, All We Need - Charlie's got this tendency with his lyrics to write them from the perspective of an individual, which is the case with this song, until the chorus, where it gains the focus of a group praise / prayer for God to satisfy. So it may be hard to the severely ADD folks such as myself to keep focus when trying to consider singing the song as a group effort, but it also serves to remind us of the significance of fellowship in worship. This song also features great vocal layering.
7. Bravery - This is one of those songs that kinda speaks for itself; it's one of my personal favorites so I have a very hard time trying to critique it objectively. Lyrically, it reflects over a personal, intimate relationship with the God of our hearts in such an honest way that it's hard to go wrong. The chorus is as simple as "You are breath-taking and breath-giving," and the bridge "Doesn't my heart burn within me?" is simple just the same; the whole song is just inspiring. And the mood is matched musically.
8. Closer - Once again, the album slows down again for a song that can be described only as beautiful. It's such an honest song, lyrically, again the music just seems to fit with it seamlessly. The piano is what catches my attention during the verses, and the electric guitar plays a simple but effective role beginning in the chorus. The best part though, is the echo behind the chorus of "come in closer" before going into the bridge with that line. The bridge itself is a continuation of the prayer for God to draw near, to "break my stony heart." Of all songs on this album, I'd say it's one of the most masterful in terms of incorporating powerful lyrics to complementary powerful musical layers that just feels like you're inviting God to come in; it's hard to describe, but it gets the job done.
9. Sum of Beautiful - This is a mid-tempo song once again just recognizing God for His power and personability. It's very soothing song musically, though I can't quite put my finger on why; the echoing drums and rhythmic acoustic definitely complement Charlie's relaxed voice that's just confident in everything he's singing....that's definitely a huge part of the song's success, in addition to the general skill of the team building each song and catering to the lyrical content to create a sound reflecting the mood.
10. Center - "Center" starts with a very basic plucking pattern on the acoustic and an almost delayed synthesized effect; even when the full band of instruments comes in, the song is still very simplistic. As it should be--Hall calls the listener to plead Christ to "be the center of our lives" [again with the collectivistic perspective in the lyrics]. It's a simple prayer lifting up the Son of God in worship. The musical structure complements the lyrics very well; this song is just another example of Hall & his collaborator's ability to match the music to the mood.
11. Running With Your Heart - This is just a fun song. It's a call to action; the title also serves as the pre-chorus lyrics leading to the energetic chorus asking God to bring His kingdom to earth. It's inspiring and joyfully passionate. I think that's the best that can be said about this piece--it's a very pure song, in attitude and in presentation.
12. Come For Me - Inspired by anticipation, this song celebrates more so the glory of Heaven than the disintegration of morality within the world; "this world is broken, yet beautifully made." Hall recognizes the weariness that can be inflicted by living in the world and looks forward to the Second Coming. "Come For Me" is probably the most musically simplistic song on the album, and it should be noted that it's also a reflection of the aforementioned ability to match music with mood. To me, this song reminds me that God will rescue; it instills hope and recognition of God's endless pursuit of our hearts.
In closing notes, it should also be mentioned that these songs really aren't meant to be only discussed and read about...they are meant to be heard and to be experienced. Nothing I have written has done it justice. My suggestion to you as the reader is to give this album your time and attention, particularly those who seek music that helps them evaluate their spiritual relationship with God. Even if not, the musical skills of Hall and his collaborators are enough to be admired. Flying Into Daybreak is an accomplished reflection of artistic expansion in the musical realm.
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