I will start by noting that I’ve been a music fan for a long time and have likely read hundreds of album reviews since reading Rolling Stone’s review of Stryper’s IN GOD WE TRUST (1988) juxtaposed with a Slayer album review when I was 12. After writing my first album review (Kevin Max’s THE BLOOD) a couple of weeks ago, reading some other current music reviews, and considering the unique perspective and responsibility that a Christian might have in critiquing music labeled as being Christian, I want to state my intent to never post reviews of music that I don’t personally find intriguing. I will only post reviews of albums that I think are notable enough, in my opinion, to be featured in a blog that is not especially bent toward discussion of music. That being said, OPEN (2006) and BELONG (EP – 2007) are at least worth a post.
I’m grouping them together in this review because, essentially, BELONG is a mini-collection of rekindled, reinterpreted tracks from OPEN. I first fell in love with OPEN while listening to samples of the album when it was featured as a staff pick on iTunes some time ago. It is a rare occurrence when I purchase a whole album on a whim without any prior exposure to an artist, but, this was a complete impulse buy based on my first listen to a couple of 30-second song snippets. More than a year later, it is still a favorite on my ipod and in my car.
In trying to characterize the style and mood of OPEN, I can say that it is not pop, but, does feature layered melodies amongst more solitary undertones in a manner slightly reminiscent of Coldplay, but, with a New Orleans tint. Infectious and addictive? Yes, but, thanks to the lyrics, the listener’s thoughts are effectively focused on the substantive, yet basic, foundation that Christ laid out and that Christians should be known for, throughout the album: servitude through Love. In the title track, Open, Morant sings:
Its time for something more real than all these words
While the least of these are broken and dying
We count the pearls in our purse
It’s time to live in love
So open up your doors
Let the Son shine out into the night you’re hiding from
Let your hearts bleed with love because when all is said and done
Love’s the only voice that’s heard
Like in Open, the lyrics throughout the album do a tremendous job of focusing the listener’s attention on non-denominational, Christ-centered issues that cut to the chase of what Christ really wants from us. The songs aren’t about sentimentality, or overused, lifeless Christian wordplay. Morant sincerely sings about seeking in desperation, finding, and displaying gratitude to God through service to “the least of these.”
The 2007 release of the BELONG EP brought fresh versions of a few of OPEN’s tracks, namely Open, Offering, Belong, and Display My Love. In comparison to the original versions found on the OPEN LP, each of the reworked tracks exude more solitary tones, but, in a manner that amplifies the power of each song. Each of the EP’s tracks were appropriately seasoned with time since their original release.
I think that, for me, it is the wondrous marriage of articulate, focused lyrics with music that bleeds artistic integrity in a Christian music market that too often showcases so much less. Morant, is relatively under the radar of popular Christian music, but, that is the fault of the Christian music market machine and a testament to the substance of Morant’s music. I would find it hard to believe that he’s out there to sell T-shirts and become another ironic Christian celebrity. His music is less like the fast food snack-style of music so predominant in contemporary music and more like a gourmet meal meant to be savored and enjoyed.