A Return Worth Waiting For | Posted June 12, 2011 Staff Reviewer
In March of 2009, Peter Furler, founding member and lead vocalist of Newsboys, announced he would be leaving the band to pursue personal interests. Needless to say, fans of the band were stunned by his abrupt departure. Questions immediately arose as to what these personal reasons might be--a health battle, a spiritual crisis, even a falling out with the band--but in the end, Peter’s resolve was simple. After 20+ years of non-stop writing, recording and touring, he needed a break. After such a drastic exit, many wondered if the Australian-born vocalist would ever make a return to Christian music. Only time would tell…
In early 2011, ending his nearly two-year long sabbatical from the music industry, Furler’s fans were delighted to learn that he was not only writing new music, but working on a brand new album, alongside familiar names, longtime friends and up-and-coming producers, including Seth Mosley from the band Me In Motion. It was his absence from the music world that allowed Peter’s passion for music to be rekindled by God once again, saying of the project, ''There is a fire shut up in my bones that I have not been able to hold in since I was a child. For me, I find its release through melody and testimony.'' This ‘release’ would spearhead his first solo record, On Fire.
The album starts off with the bouncy and pop driven “I’m Alive,” which boasts the album’s title through the lyric “I’m Alive, I’m On Fire, and my Spirit burns with desire.” It’s a great way to start the album, and from here, it shows no signs of slowing down. The CD’s first single, “Reach,” is followed by the worshipful and fun “Glory To The King.” The whole album has a techno/pop theme running throughout, which is something many Furler fans will enjoy right away, giving the newness a sense of comforting familiarity. The eccentric “Never Ending Love Song” is the catchiest song on the record, and will no doubt be one that will have everyone jumping when it’s preformed live. The only real mid-tempo track, “Matter Of Faith”, talks about Christ coming for the church, and describes the events through a series of beautiful word play.
“All In Your Head” is followed by my favorite song on the entire album, “Closer.” The song speaks about how easily we loose ourselves to the distractions of life, and with the end coming, it’s time we lived out our calling’s without any regrets. The song features a brilliant vocal cameo by longtime producer and legendary CCM male vocalist, Steve Taylor. Taylor and Furler’s vocals meshed together are spot on and it brings this song to a whole new level. It’s one I recommend you buy whether or not you purchase the entire record… a fantastic track. “Faster And Louder” is a humorous tale, addressing the expectation that after 20 years of doing rock music, Peter would want to slow down his sound, which in turn, only makes him want to make his music ‘faster and louder.’ It sends a great message that your never to young (or too old) to live a radical life for Christ.
“Psalm 23” is just that, the 23rd psalm set to the most unique beat on the record. Laced with auto-tuned vocals, this is something I could easily hear being played on a mainstream pop station. It will definitely become a fan favorite. “Hold On” is a song I hope to hear as the next radio single. It’s a departure from the pop found on most of the album, and it’s encouraging message of believing God through the middle of a storm is something that would impact many listeners. “Greater Is He”, featuring guest vocals by fellow former Newsboy, Phil Joel, as well as a short audio clip by Peter’s father, Bill Furler (a well known Pastor in Australia), brings the album to a triumphant close.
Musically, this is a fun and fast paced album. There isn’t a dull moment on the record, and while that might not suit everyone‘s taste, it certainly showcases Peter’s new sound. Lyrically, this might be one of the most encouraging albums of the year. The powerful theme of living “on fire” runs throughout every song on this record, taking the listener on a journey of what it means to follow Christ and live deliberately through life’s up’s and downs. With quirky lyrics and upbeat harmonies, no question longtime Newsboys fans will love this album, but of course, Peter will also capture the heart of new listeners with his passion and catchy grooves. This is one of CCM’s “must-own” albums of 2011 and it doesn’t disappoint. All this being said, I think the only thing that’s left to say is this: welcome back Peter Furler.