|Sixteen Cities Is Making A Way | Posted March 27, 2012
Sixteen Cities is the latest band to continue to establish Centricity Music's artist base as a powerful force in the pop format. The band is back this Spring with their sophomore follow-up to 2010's self-titled debut. The new album Love is Making a Way establishes their voice as one we could be hearing a lot of. Although still a fairly new presence, Sixteen Cities presents an impressively mature style on a solid pop-worship album.
The album begins on a very energetic note with "The Sound of Love" and title track "Love is Making a Way." There's a solid groove beneath the upbeat pacing and the hopeful lyrics that speak of God's love like light breaking through the dark: "it's falling down to all of us beneath, we're lost in the glory of this beautiful refrain." The first several songs on the album are variations on the same theme, showcasing some incredibly smooth production and soaring pop vocals, particularly on tracks like "Still Here With Me" and "All Around the World."
The album really comes into its own about halfway through. Sixteen Cities beautifully takes hold of their style, infusing the upbeat alternative soundscape with a refreshing mellow undercurrent that nicely rounds out the songs. This is evident in the contemplative "What Must it Be Like," a song that seeks to grasp what it would be like to see the world through God's eyes. Another song in a similar musical vein is "Walk On Water," featuring a chilling but gentle acoustic guitar bed that supports the pleading lyrics "I'll walk on water to You if that's the only way to get to where You are and fall into Your arms."
The note of wide-eyed wonder at who God is does not fade out though. There is a quality of almost innocent awe evident from the first track through the last, the incredibly soft but earnest worship song "Consume Me" that cries "Pull me under now. Lord, I want to drown in Your river."
Sixteen Cities' sophomore effort isn't too far from the expected, but it establishes their identity and proves their ability to craft strong songs that shine for both their beautiful sonic balance and their awe-struck, worshipful lyrics. The production work is flawless, but at the same time they don't lean on it too heavily-- the songwriting, vocals, and instrumental work are equally strong. Overall, this is a well-rounded album with a nice balance of upbeat and mellow moments.
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|Sixteen Cities is Better Than Ever! | Posted February 21, 2012
Ever since the Centricity Music group Sixteen Cities released their self-titled debut in April 2010, they’ve enjoyed traveling the country and meeting new fans. Their first single from the project, “Sing Along” peaked at #28 on the Christian AC charts, even finding airplay over Abercrombie and Finch’s store radio. Six months after the release of their debut, the Portland, Oregon-based worship group followed it up with the six-song Your Love Is… EP, which featured covers of popular worship anthems such as “Your Love Is Strong,” “Forever Reign,” and “Ready Now.” 2011 was a quiet year for the group on radio, but they continued traveling the country. (I personally had the chance to see them live two times last year.) But in December of last year, the group released a brand new single to radio after much anticipation from their fans. The title track off their new record, “Love is Making A Way” goes further to prove the effectiveness of the band’s ministry to share Christ in a practical way with their listeners. But while their debut more focused on an individual’s worth (“Someone’s Work of Art,” “Come as You Are,” “Innocent”), Love is Making a Way speaks more boldly about the power of Christ’s love, and how His love can and will break any barrier between us and Him. The ten-track project was well worth the wait, and as you are about to read, may even be a step up from their previous albums.
The fun and energetic “Sound of Love” is an awesome opener for Love Is Making a Way. Having a Newsboys sentiment to it, it’s almost a surprisingly upbeat and catchy song for Sixteen Cities to be heard singing. Speaking of how God’s love is singing over us, it’s a celebratory track, and is in all ways awesome. Josiah Warneking’s vocals sound better than ever, background vocals and harmonies complete the fullness, and the booming bass certainly makes it all the more catchy. “Sound of Love” is definitely single-worthy, and would also make a perfect concert intro!
The title track follows, still upbeat. Probably most noticeable about this heart-felt song of thanks for God’s deep love that breaks all chains in our life is the extra bass, which gives me chills every time I listen. A very fun track that makes me smile every time I listen, “Love is Making a Way” is also very worshipful and serves as an autobiography of lead singer Josiah’s life, how God healed his broken heart after his parent’s divorce. Hearing the meaning definitely accentuated the power of this song in my own life, and will no doubt cause the listener to ponder the power of God’s unconditional love.
“Glorious” follows, a moving worship song such as those that we’ve come to know and love from Sixteen Cities. The piano is a great opener, and things soon become very strong and powerful, even changing keys near the end. “Glorious” is totally original, yet it’s probably one of the best worship songs I’ve heard in my life. Sixteen Cities definitely knows how to deliver songs that provoke listener participation, and this is no exception.
“Still Here With Me” is my personal favorite off Love is Making a Way. The Psalm 23-like lyrics encourage the listener, reminding us that we are never alone. The lyrics, repeating themselves, definitely make for a great sing-along, and so do the emphatic fill-ins at the end of the chorus. Especially enjoyable to sing to is the strong chorus: “I’m sure that I’m not alone, not alone/ though the world tries to tell me so, tell me so/ in this valley I’m going through/ even when it’s hard to see, You’re still here with me!” The piano pop track is very full and encouraging simultaneously, making for one of the best works I’ve ever heard from Sixteen Cities. “All Around the World,” speeding things up again, is a track that fans have had a chance to hear a preview of during live shows. It is definitely great to hear what the guys have done to this track, which again brings out the message of God’s love raining down on us. Chad McCutchen does a fantastic job on the drums here, very quick and energetic, especially during the chorus.
The presence of God flows unhindered through “Mercy, Fall On Me,” a simple yet powerful prayer for God’s mercy and love to surround us. “What It Must Be Like” has deeply contemplative lyrics, which are also quite creative. It also offers hope, and helps the listener to realize that God loves to watch over His children: “What it must be like to see the world through Your eyes/ to hear the prayers of a broken heart and be the breath of life/ what it must be like to hold the stars in place/ how Your glory shines over all the earth/ forever You will reign…”
“Walk On Water” is my second favorite off Love is Making A Way, as it explores the challenges of Peter in a way I’ve never quite looked at it. The lyrics are very heart-felt and worshipful, and I have often found myself repeating them throughout any hard time: “I’ll walk on water to You, if that’s the only way to get to where You are and fall into Your arms/ I’ll go wherever You say, I’ll take a leap of faith/ so tell me just how far, until I’m in Your arms.” Especially powerful is the touching bridge: “I wanna fall in, I wanna fall in Your arms.” Josiah’s vocals sound particularly amazing in this track as well, even in one point sounding electronic.
Closing the album are two prayers, “I Need You” and “Consume Me.” “I Need You” takes on a soft contemporary note, asking God to remind us that He is all we need. The monotonous melody of the verses was quite cool, especially when matched with the melodious chorus. “Consume Me” closes things well, with no drums, just a nice guitar strumming. The acoustic setting is perfect for the soft chorus, letting God know that there’s nothing else we’d rather have more than being consumed with more of Him. It’s an excellent closing track, and definitely a highlight from the album as a whole.
I have to say, I’ve been eagerly looking forward to a sophomore full-length Sixteen Cities project ever since the release of their debut project nearly two years ago. I’ve also had the chance to see the band several times, and hear sneak peaks into the new album, which increased my anticipation. Love is Making a Way was a wonderful follow-up! The ten-track project has Sixteen Cities better than ever. It seems the band has tried more of a definitive pop sound, which definitely works. And as always, the band hasn’t backed down from delivering their strong message of God’s unconditional love that they live out through their ministry. Love Is Making a Way will likely be my #1 favorite of 2012. Good job, Sixteen Cities!
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