In a world that would focus on having us climb the ladder, seeking to lead and to be at the top of the food chain, it’s an arresting development to consider the idea of choosing to be a follower, of laying down our desires and drive and allowing someone else to run the show. But a careful examination of our faith reminds us that, to some degree or another, that’s exactly what we’re called to do and that’s the theme that hitmakers Tenth Avenue have set out to explore on their excellent fifth album, Followers.
Followers builds on the foundation of the band’s prior album, Cathedrals, which dealt with issues of truly allowing ourselves to be the Church and seeking out true community. This record takes things to the next logical step, realizing that if we are called to truly be the Church, we can’t do it on our power alone. Likewise, there will be fearful circumstances to be faced down as we lay down our control and allow God control.
That fear is dealt with firsthand on opening track “Afraid,” whose big, spacious opening recalls the refrains of “I Need You, I Love You, I Want You” while honestly acknowledging the wrestling of fear that comes at times with a life of face, ultimately finding hope in the promises of Christ and the truth that “with Your kingdom death will die.” A Maroon 5-flavored “What You Want” follows, examining God’s work on our hearts and minds, while “Overflow” celebrates our freedom in Him with a big, radio-ready arrangement.
“I Have This Hope” showcases lead singer Mike Donehey’s strong pipes as well as a committed lyric that openly wrestles with God’s promises contrasted by our doubts and fears, followed by the percussive clarity of “One Thing” and it’s reminder that no matter what, God is all we need. For those looking for a sense of security in times of trials, “Sparrow (Under Heaven’s Eyes)” is a power-packed pop punch of bright energy and hope-filled lyrics while “No One Can Steal Our Joy” throbs with rocking beats and soaring keyboards.
There’s a sense of honest amazement that colors “Control (Somehow You Want Me),” Donehey singing a lyric that every believer has wrestled with at some point in their faith journey, fueled by a warm keyboard that builds into an explosive musical celebration on one of the album’s highlight tracks as “Fighting For You” plays with the beat, mining some retro territory while infusing the lyric with hope and encouragement. And with “I Confess,” the band saves the best for last, the subdued track built around swells of keys and simple acoustic tones that perfectly compliment the intimate lyrics that shine with honesty and authenticity and end the record on a strong note.
With Followers, Tenth Avenue North continue their trend of crafting quality, radio ready tracks that not only encourage, but honestly engage listeners in true conversations of doubt, loss, and heartache, while consistently pointing them back to the Savior. It’s this honesty that sets the band’s music apart and with Followers, Tenth Avenue North is bound to gain a few more followers of their own.