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REVIEW: Lifehouse: Not a one-hit wonder

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–It might be possible to conclude that Lifehouse has emerged in an enormous way with their debut “No Name Face,” which went double-platinum, mostly due to its inescapable hit single “Hanging by a Moment,” the most-played song on radio in 2001.

Inevitably, with the status of success the rookie band instantly achieved, many critics, including myself, feared this would be the newest member of the one-hit wonder status, failing to reach the remarkably high standards they had set.

Their attempt to disprove critics comes in the form of “Stanley Climbfall,” released by DreamWorks and Sparrow Records.

Since the grunge-influenced band’s public forming, there has been a great debate at hand. Is Lifehouse a Christian band or not?

Since Stanley Climbfall is being released by Sparrow Records, a Christian record label, I have chosen to review the album just as I would any other from any Christian label.

Originally a worship band reigning in California, Lifehouse began to play gigs around Los Angeles, steadily gaining a large, faithful and enthusiastic fan base. The band’s name soon found its way to producers in the area, which led to their musical contracts.

Vocalist and guitarist Jason Wade and bass player Sergio Andrade founded the band. The group lacked a steady drummer, shuffling through a stream of candidates until Rick Woolstenhulme found his way into the trio shortly after the release of No Name Face.

Lifehouse has accomplished the unthinkable — creating a second album with enough experimental substance while not straying completely away from the style that made them famous. This one concept has ruined countless numbers of acts in the past, but upcoming artists take note: Lifehouse gets it.

The album is a much heavier representation of the band. Think Jars of Clay meets Creed. In its latest recording, the threesome leans more toward the edgier Creed side of the equation, but there is still a healthy balance of the two.

Drummer Rick Woolstenhulme has added more complicated drumming to Stanley Climbfall. The combination of him and bassist Andrade is golden and the two play tightly and together. This underlies Wade’s unpredictable guitar progressions to form melodies tailor-made for the ear.

The best, “Wash,” offers more than a minute of introductory music. Another standout track is “Take Me Away,” in which Wade’s vocals sail to new and unexplored heights that left me breathless. “My Precious” is a moving ballad that identifies Lifehouse’s wonderful experimental nature.

The one downside I found is the lack of a track that matches the worship intensity displayed in No Name Face’s “Everything,” which, in my opinion, is the best unheard of worship song created. It screams, “You’re all I want. You’re all I need. You’re everything, everything. And how could I stand here with You and not be moved by You? Would You tell me how could it be any better than this?”

This is not to say there is a shortage of meaningful religious-based lyrics. The ambiguous “You” replaces Christ’s name in all of the songs, but this is becoming more common even among a number of current Christian bands.

“Wash” exclaims, “I never had to choose, living a life with you or choosing lies only half true. Now I’d rather be alone with you and me than hiding behind these walls. You wash over me. You wash over me like rain. You wash over me like sunshine.”

The hopeful and passion-filled “Out of Breath” states, “The past has left its stain, now I feel the same. I’ll seize the day if you take away the chains of yesterday. But I keep running. I am running. I keep living for the day that I’m with you. And I am waiting. I am waiting. I keep waiting for the day that I am with you.”

“Empty Space” describes the void in our life without Christ, and coming back to him when we have strayed. While this is an all-too-common theme in the industry, the trio expressed the idea in a new and refreshing way.

The song admits, “You know where I’ve been, and I don’t want to go there again. You’re beautiful. You’re confusing. You’re illogical. You’re amazing, and I’ve seen the world. It’s overrated. Until you’re everything, I have nothing but an empty space. I’ve been down this road before. All that I’ve found points right back to you. I’ve watched you move from down below. Where do I go from here? I guess I’ll find out as I go.”

The best attribute for Lifehouse is with the pen. They have a knack for writing songs that make me think, “That was exactly what I was trying to say, but could not put into words.” With every listen, the words mean more to me and take on a deeper meaning.

Perhaps my favorite of all, Lifehouse is a band with Christian motives being received openly by millions. Whether a Christian band or not, Lifehouse band members certainly have church backgrounds and the members still hold close to their faith. I personally have been able to use their music to steer conversations with lost friends toward God.

People who would never otherwise openly listen to what the Bible has to say suddenly become curious and open to discussion when it becomes evident to them that Jason Wade could be singing to his eternal Savior and not to his girlfriend.
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