The Classic Crime
Secret & Whisper
LabelTooth And Nail
Tracklist01. New Fire
02. An Honest Heart
03. I Hear Her Breathe
04. Beautiful List
05. Trailers Vs. Tornadoes
06. Jill Plays Tricks, Jack Plays God
08. Salt And The Light
09. This Awakening
10. Stone Soup
11. True Bride
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Have you ever noticed how sophisticated and meaningful lyrics are in today’s hottest music? Take for example this line in Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” During the chorus, the Madonna clone croons, “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah! Mum-mum-mum-mum-mah! GaGa-oo-la-la! Want your bad romance.” Of course, I am only kidding. Lyrics like those just shared are the antithesis of sophistication and meaning. Yet, for this very reason, I was shocked when I heard the chorus of Sent By Ravens’ first single, “New Fire.” The lyrics state, “…a new fire, lit in you, a new fire it circles this room, and may you never be afraid of your faith…” Heartfelt and genuine, the lyrics of singer Zach Riner are only part of this new group’s appeal as the solid musical backdrop of the rest of the band makes Sent By Ravens’ Our Graceful Words one of the more memorable debuts this year.
As one of Tooth and Nail’s most recent additions, Sent By Ravens were intelligent to select “New Fire” as their first single due to the fact that followers of the record label will be absolutely content with what is presented. With a sound likened to fellow label mates Emery, “New Fire” summarizes the audio spectrum that Sent By Ravens offers – passionate singing, occasional doses of screaming, anthemic choruses and memorable melodies all neatly woven into a 37 minute package spanning eleven songs.
Aside from the opening piece, “New Fire,” there is plenty of other material to be enjoyed here. “Beautiful List” marries an incredibly catchy chorus with uplifting lyrics, while “Salt and the Light” illustrates the band venturing into ballad territory with a soaring chorus and a majestic string section. As evidenced by these two tunes, Sent By Ravens demonstrate a surprisingly impressive approach to songwriting, especially seeing as this is their debut album.
Listeners wishing for the edgy side of Sent By Ravens will be satisfied with songs like “Stone Soup,” which erupts with churning guitars and desperate shouts before settling into an intense and captivating chorus. In addition, older supporters of the band may notice the inclusion of “Trailers vs. Tornadoes,” a song previously released on their extended play, The Effects of Fashion and Prayer. On Our Graceful Words however, the once familiar song has undergone a rearranging of sorts for better or for worse, trimmed of nearly a minute of material compared to the former version. Regardless, the restructured “Trailers vs. Tornadoes” does an adequate job of maintaining the pace of the album with lively fretwork by guitarists Andy O’Neal and JJ Leonard joined with the stressed singing of Riner.
After listening to Sent By Ravens’ debut album, Our Graceful Words, my only criticism is that the album abides strictly by conventional composition. Bands blessed with the songwriting ability that Sent By Ravens possess should be able and willing to experiment with song structure rather than resort to the standard, formulaic verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus arrangement. Consequently, many of the songs on Our Graceful Words come across as predictable and generic.
Uniformity aside, Sent By Ravens’ Our Graceful Words is a refreshing change of pace from the majority of popular music available today. Zach Riner unites a memorable singing performance with optimistic and convicting lyrics while the rest of the band, bassist Jon Arena, drummer Dane Anderson, and guitarists Andy O’Neal and JJ Leonard contribute enough phonic diversity to an album already brimming with memorable music, making Our Graceful Words once of the most promising debuts of this year.