Growth suits Kutless well. It’s been a pleasure to watch the guys from Oregon expand musically and spiritually in the last five years or so. I first saw them at Music in the Rockies when the band was living out of their vehicles touring the West.
Jon Micah Sumrall’s voice is stronger and much more refined from the raw talent of just a few years ago. This was evident on the last CD, “What Faith Can Do,” and carries over to “Believer,” which will be released Feb. 28.
* True story, while listening to Kutless’ last CD “It is Well,” there were numerous times that I stopped what I was doing to see who was playing on my CD player. (Yea, I still like the hard copies.) I didn’t recognized the band because of its development.
The lyrics on “Believer” are thought-provoking, moving, and requesting change — something we need in this day and age of senseless school shootings and such. And the music is a lesson in diversity from ballads to the band’s hard-rock rhythm to a song that has tinges of Lady Antebellum.
With the first release from “Believer” — “Carry Me to the Cross” — Sumrall carries his notes well while praising the Lord for carrying him through life’s ups and downs. The worship ballad starts with a few piano notes and Sumrall singing:
When the path is daunting
and every step is exhausting,
I’m not alone. I’m not alone.
Words that display the band’s growth spiritually. Each instrument is added individually to reach a cresando.
Kutless offers up other ballads with “Come Back Home” and “Even If,” which uses strings to supplement Sumrall’s voice and tame the guitars and big drum sounds.
A Kutless CD would not be complete without the band’s trademark rock beat, and the guys deliver on “Need” and “If It Ends Today.”
A driving guitar gets the listener going in “Need” and carries throughout and turns into a head-shaking, body-moving tune with dueling guitars while pleading:
“Help me God I do believe, I feel lost it’s killing me, I need you right now. God please answer me, I know you are here but hard to see, I need you right now.”
“If it Ends Today,” is sure to be a concert favorite with its raw feel that asks fans to rise up and be the generation that spreads the Gospel and to raise their hands if you’re not afraid if it ends today. Stand up, the time is now. This is one of my favorites on the six-song sampler I acquired.
A nice surprise is “Identity.” I got a fun country feel from it — almost like a hint of Lady Antebellum. I don’t know why … but I hear a smooth Southern rock style with breathless vocals and keyboards.
Producer David Lubben, a vocal performance major in college, pushed Sumrall throughout the record, and it shows in the lead singer’s range and strength. It’s the best I’ve heard him. And the songwriting is diverse and solid, you won’t find fluffy or repetitive elementary lyrics here.
It makes you ponder what the future holds for the band and how it will affect its fans. A bright future indeed.