Numbers are so arbitrary, really, so I’ve come up with my own rating system:
Do the lyrics challenge/speak to me – yes
Do the songs get stuck in my head – yes
Will I keep listening after the review – yes (great running CD!)
Originally from South Africa, Tree63 came to the states in 2000, and then rose to the forefront of public awareness in the U.S. with the worship anthems ‘King’ and ‘Blessed Be Your Name.’ In the midst of Christian music’s worship trend, Tree63 quickly came to be known as another worship band among the ranks, but their true identity is much deeper than a simplistic label.
From first listen, it becomes readily apparent that Tree63 is not just another dose of CCM. More than ever before, the band’s sixth studio project, Sunday!, challenges not only the traditional Christian music model, but also the preconceived ideas about who Tree63 is both sonically and lyrically. Sonically, they are strikingly similar to U2, Coldplay, and Delirious?, but after 10 years have proven that they have what it takes to stand on their own. This is especially true in the new level of maturity displayed on their most recent release … well, new to listeners, but truer than ever to their heart as a band.
It’s easy to forget that we as Americans lead privileged lives. ‘The Revolution,’ however, reminds us that most of us have “full stomachs and both parents,” while people are hungry and losing their lives in other countries. Sunday! is a call to social awareness and encourages listeners to a life of radical faith in the process of ‘Becoming’ like Christ. From the title track to the last line, Sunday! is full of God’s promises. Many of the songs are taken straight from scripture, but without being preachy. Lyrical highlight ‘Almighty Silence’ is a graceful recognition that we will face silent times with God. Personal fun favorite is ‘Walking Home With You,’ an ironic tune akin to God’s conversation with Job reminding us of all that He has done.
Sunday! may be repetitive and cliché at times, but never without a purpose, and certainly never boring, which shows that musicianship goes a long way in making an album. It delivers everything from the hard rock edge of ‘Not As This World’ to the stripped down acoustic feel of ‘Alright,’ with plenty of the upbeat rock-pop numbers that brought them success at home in between. Of course, the album is packed with front man John Ellis’s distinctively crisp vocal and guitar stylings. In addition, Daniel Ornellas delivers a solid bass line throughout, and longtime fans will be pleased to discover the return of Darryl Swart’s cymbal-laden drum work.
If you’ve been following Tree63 for a while, you will not be disappointed. If you are new to the group, this is a great place to start. Sunday! is a pleasing listen, but the songs reach beyond the ears to the heart. You would be hard-pressed to walk away unchanged.