|Dreamers is "Made to Glow" | Posted July 22, 2013
When I heard Shine Bright Baby perform for the first time at Creation Northwest, I immediately noticed their energy. Everyone was all over the stage; guitarist Josh Fink gave some of the best facial expressions in rock music, and lead singer Emily Irene belted out notes much larger than her tiny stature.
I also noticed the band's heart and passion for ministry. It's not every day you see a lead singer picking up garbage after their set. I knew there was something different about this group.
As far as the band's sound, they were a middling to above-average girl-fronted rock band. The Paramore comparisons abounded, and at the time were probably well founded, much to the group's chagrin.
But that was several years ago now, and since then, Shine Bright Baby has been signed to BEC Records, narrowed more than 80 new songs down to 10 for their national debut record, Dreamers.
The album is chock-full of lyrics and themes that don't just speak to the band's audience; they speak of the band's testimony. Making the album was a lesson in patience and submission (as you'll read in my interview with the band), so when the band talks about overcoming, dreaming and being bold for God, they mean it—because they're living it. But it's not just about their story; it's about our shared stories.
There are many "we" statements in the album, primarily connected to themes of identity or calls to action:
"We were made to glow / Illuminate the hope / The light burning inside us / It's so contagious." —"Made to Glow"
"We may never be strong enough / our God, our God is always enough." —"Overcome"
"We've been given a chance to live forgiven / We are the children after God's own heart / He wants to use us, so through out your excuses." —"The Difference"
"We are the brave ones, waiting til the rain comes." —"Brave Ones"
"We are all dreamers / Hoping for things that we can't see / Sooner or later we're gonna see the unseen." —"Dreamers"
There also are lots of more personal "you" statements, too, seeking to encourage the downtrodden:
"These struggles make you stronger / Stand tall when you're back's against the wall." —"Overcome"
"You've been hurting / you're about to reach the end / Don't give up now, there is hope for you." —"Love Restores"
"Your mistakes washed away / Just like a flood / all the weight of your shame forgotten." —"Never Too Far"
And Emily self references herself with lots of "I" statements, which illustrate her relationship with or revelation of God:
"You're taking me as I am / It's a beautiful love." —"Beautiful Love"
"You're like a theory that I can't explain / I kinda like that I feel this way." —"Lumineux"
"Cause I'm a work of art in your eyes / And there's nothing that I need to hide / No matter what I go through / I'm beautiful to you." —"Beautiful to You"
So the message of this album really is this: If God loves me, and He does, then He loves and forgives you, so you can live a pretty fantastic, adventurous life for Him and share it with others. That's some good news right there. And it's painted with a vast palette of musical colors.
Musically, the album does what many debut albums do, taking listeners on a sonic tour of the band's capabilities. And it's impressive how many different sounds the band can pull off well. Long gone are the Paramore comparisons—and that's a compliment.
Emily is a vocal chameleon of sorts. She can change the intensity and delivery of her voice, depending on what the song requires. There's a tenderness and sweetness in the ballads, yet an urgency and edge in the harder songs. There's also a playfulness in the more danceable numbers. It's a rare quality, and it proves why this band got picked up by BEC.
The synth-programmed pop songs like "Overcome" and "Lumineux" will get you dancing (the latter reminds me of the band Worth Dying For). The dance club beats are complimented nicely by the traditional rock sounds of the band. Synths also complement "Made to Glow," the opening track that immediately announced the band's departure from being a standard rock band.
The band knows how to deliver a power ballad, too, from the identity-shaping "Beautiful to You" to the "all things new" message of "Love Restores" to the grace-filled theme of "Never Too Far." In these songs, Emily's voice is able to really shine technically. A high point vocally is the chorus of "Beautiful To You."
The alternative rock roots of this band still exist, though, and are back and better than ever, with "The Brave Ones" being an album highlight. It rocks the hardest, and it doesn't hurt that one of Christian rock's foremost voices, Kevin Young of Disciple, makes an appearance.
Shine Bright Baby's lead single, "Beautiful Love," isn't the best representation of all that the band can do, musically, so if that's all you know of the band, dig deeper. "Beautiful Love" is a happy-go-lucky, straight-up pop song about "the same God who paints the clouds is the one who turned my life around." It somewhat resembles a Superchick song, for all the right reasons.
Probably my favorite song on the album is the final song, title track "Dreamers." Starting with a synth-driven riff, you can immediately sense the epicness of this song, which is fully realized in the big chorus. It's the kind of song that leaves you wanting more when all is said and done. It, like "Made to Glow" before it, fantastically merges the electronic and rock elements to produce a delectable, cinematic pop tune.
Shine Bright Baby has taken a significant step forward as a band since their indie rock days, becoming a multifaceted musical force to be reckoned with. Dreamers has both the musical chops and the encouraging message to be one of the summer's best albums, if not one of the year's best.
Dreamers is a high-energy tour of the band's personal testimony and musical abilities, and it's clear that there's much to love here. Beautifully blending powerful vocals, stalwart instrumentals and innovative electronic elements, Shine Bright Baby delivers some really good news in a really good way.
Put this one on repeat. If there's one complaint I have about this album, it's that it's too short. So I guess I'll have to start over and listen through again!
Song to Download Now:
"Dreamers" (Get it on iTunes here
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