Prime Cuts: Scars, Crown Him, The Water (Meant for Me)
Overall grade: 5/5
I AM THEY's much anticipated sophomore album is as telling as its titular. Both aspects reflected on their album's title are expounded in this 10-song record. On this album, the band doesn't caricature the pains and struggles that have journeyed our pilgrimages. In fact, they allow them to be voiced with their variegated accents of frustrations and emotions. Songs like "Scars," "The Water (Meant for Me)," and "No Impossible for You" are not just your average praise songs. Rather, they are expressions of hearts that gone through the furnace. But they are also more than your average tear-in-your-beer weepers. Rather, they are also models of how our trials find their answer at the cross and how exuberant joy can burst forth.
"Trial and Triumph" is the long awaited to I AM THEY's debut album released in January of 2015. During this intermitted time, the band has gone quite an evolution with two of its founding members exiting. Bringing in a few fresh faces, the team currently consists of Abbie Parker (vocals/harmonium), Jon McConnell (vocals/guitar/keys), Matt Hein (vocals/guitar/mandolin), Justin Shinn (keys/banjo) and Sara Palmer (drums).
The first thing to say about this record is that this is a congregational focused worship album. This means that these are songs are directed to God than songs that speak about him. Thus, all of these songs are glorious candidates for songs to be sung during devotions and church worship. Few are the songs that the church needs to sing; yet one that is quintessential is the ballad "Scars." Too often our sagacity in worship is too superficial. "Scars" is a much needed worship song as it teaches us to even thank God for our hurts: "So I'm thankful for the scars/Cause without them I wouldn't know your heart."
Never ones to hide behind scaffolds is the duet by bandmates Abbie Parker and Jon McConnell entitled "Near to Me." In the first verse, the band does open surgery to a lonely heart before bringing it under the cross, this by itself is pulverising. Other songs that speak of God's faithfulness in the midst of trials include the melodious "The Water (Meant for me)" and the 90s popish "No Impossible for Me."
The powerhouse anthem "Crown Him" presents another awesome teaching moment. Too often we see the Christian life as us persevering, but "Crown him" has some piercing lines that teaches us to commit our ways to him, with the favourite being, "It's not my war to win/It's not by weight to bear/And by his mighty hand, he won the victory." More upbeat worship numbers include God-centered "To the One" and the lead single "My Feet are on the Rock."
For a worship album that doesn't bypass the complexities of life's trials and for a record that praises God with a realistic joy, I AM THEY's sophomore album has it all. This is indeed a stellar worship album; you can forget the sophomore slum when it comes to I AM THEY.