Hearts Like Lions New EP “These Hands”
It Stirs the Soul!
Hearts Like Lions has what you’d want in any great rock band: a relevant sound that adds something to the conversation in rock music today, a creative angle that draws you in, and mature songwriting and musicianship.
That’s just the basic recipe though. What really takes a band up to a higher level is the passion and plausibility of its lyrics — passion that convinces you they keenly feel what they’re singing about; plausibility that makes the listener hear the words and think, “Yeah, that’s exactly what life and faith are like; this is plausible. They’re not just talking theory. This is concrete, not abstract. I can relate to it because I’ve lived what they’re talking about.”
Hearts Like Lions has everything above in spades.
But let’s talk about the music on their new album These Hands — released on 12/2/14 — in more detail:
The album begins with “Wake Up.” And that’s exactly what it does to you. Its stomping, marching rhythm section enters your room or car — wherever you’re listening — and it doesn’t allow you to sit back and listen passively. You instinctively lean forward into the sound waves. And then the guitar floats over the marching rhythm section in a large reverb space. The vocals are clear and well-paced, added here and there like a chef adding a pinch of salt at the right moments. “Wake up from this deadly sleep” — the line repeats until it hits the stirring climax of the song.
It’s a powerful listening experience. Every song has this same architecture of well-paced tension and release until it builds to the summit. And the lyrics do a great job of finding their most insightful moment right when the music hits the biggest spot of the track.
This marriage between lyric and music continues throughout the album.
The hesitant but determined stutter step of the drums in “Trust Me” matches the theme of the song, which takes on all the bad reports and fearful doubts of this world with the defiant declaration that we will put our trust in God. It reminds me of the Psalm that says, “Who do I have in Heaven but You?” When it all boils down, the Most High is our only hope. This world’s flimsy facade is not our source of salvation or ultimate fulfillment.
“Man of Dust,” my favorite track on the album, slips the smooth iridescence of major 7th chords into the song just when you least expect it. There’s great interplay between tension and resolve in the music, all adding up to a another stirring ascent.
There’s a touch of the post-punk era (late ’70s and early ’80s underground rock bands) in these songs. That observation probably says more about me than it says about the band’s actual influences, but I feel the same driving urgency and creativity — an addictive restlessness in the music and the lyrics.
For example, the hurtling three-note guitar pattern, a splash of movement and color up the harmonic register, brings the perfect contrast over the driving lows of “I’m Not Running Away From This.”
And then there’s the lyrics in “These Hands.” They pierced my heart immediately: “These hands were made for goodness but I’ve done so much, I’ve done so much destruction.” These lines actually brought tears to my eyes. I cried out to God, asking Him to redeem all the dark chapters of my earlier years.
And then the song concluded with these words: “so slow down, slow down, let’s run this race together / These hands are dirty, won’t you make them clean / I’ve devoured everything given to me.”
More tears again.
The lyrics slipped right into my prayer: “God, I’ve devoured everything given to me.” But then, as quickly as my heart fell to its knees, I felt the Lord draw near and, without uttering a single word, He pointed to the Cross. That was His answer to my plea.
See? This is why we listen to music. One album from one band can provide a meeting ground for you and God.
To cap off this review, here’s an excerpt from their Kickstarter page:
Since day 1, Hearts Like Lions has been about one thing and one thing only: writing music for Jesus in the most creative/unique/energetic way that our musical abilities will allow. At this point in our lives, we are confident that this music-ministry is where The Lord has called us to put 110% of our energy and drive. So thinking practically, the best way to get this band off of the ground is to record and release the BEST material we’ve ever made and get it on the road to a city near you. With that being said, if our project is successfully funded we will be heading to Sacramento, CA to record with Dryw Owens, producer for bands such as From Indian Lakes, Consider The Thief and record labels Triple Crown Records and Come&Live!
Their project got funded indeed, and I’m glad it did. These Hands is a wonderful EP.