Release Date: February 28th 2012
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Sixteen Cities’ 2010 debut was one of the most underrated albums that year. However, I found the Centricity Records signed Oregon band refreshing to Christian music, with lead signer Josiah Warneking being able to sing a wide variety of genres, including pop radio songs and alternative rock songs. Standouts on the debut were the single ‘Sing Along’, ‘Captured By Your Love’, and the cover ‘Save Me From Myself’. I would definitely compare this band in terms of style of music to Sanctus Real, The Afters, and Kutless. Turning their focus and the spotlight over to worship as their next genre to tackle and inhibit with their follow up ‘Your Love is Worship EP’, Josiah and the band reworked praise and worship anthems such as ‘Forever Reign’, ‘Your Love Never Fails’ and ‘Everlasting God’. It was one of my personal favourite worship albums of 2010.
And this brings me to 2012, where the Portland men are back with their full length sophomore album ‘Love Is Making a Way’, hitting the right notes time and time again. There are just so many favourites of mine on this album; this is one of my favourites of the year so far. Even though this is a difficult feat, with Sixteen Cities having strong competition with Kutless’ ‘Believer’ (which is my favourite album release on that day) Sixteen Cities’ album holds its own, and also hits the hammer on the nail.
‘Sound of Love’ is a rocky anthem and gets the fists pumping on a danceable track. Singing of the sound of love as a revival spreading across the nation and the world, Josiah perfects the vocals on this energetic track 100%. God is showering us with his song of love over us all the time: ‘…Can you hear the sound of Love, something glorious singing over us, can you feel the wonder of the song He’s saving us, that’s the sound of Love…’ Heavily layered with synth, guitars and gang vocals in the chorus, ‘Sound of Love’ packs a mighty punch, and is the perfect start for an album proclaiming the love of Jesus.
Carrying on from this theme is the inspiring pop radio single ‘Love is Making a Way’; about how Jesus’ love can heal us from anything unfortunate or unpleasant that has occurred to us, that His love carries and washes over a multitude of sins and wrongdoings. Inspired by Josiah’s testimony of how he gave his life to Jesus following his parent’s divorce, the lyrics ‘…Lord You have it all, straight into your arms I am falling, and all I’ve got is Yours, You are everything I’m living for…’ is sure to relate to anyone, as I am sure this song will again and again prove to be the catalyst in the future for many dedications and re-dedications to follow Jesus and begin a relationship with Him. Watching Josiah tell his testimony on Youtube is also powerful, and gains me a deeper respect for the band.
‘Glorious’ follows, and straight away, I can tell it is single material. Singing about how God reigns over all and ‘…from age to age, You’re still the same, You are glorious…’ Josiah and Pete Kipley have crafted a song that is an all out praise anthem to God for who He is, and the fact that he is pursuing us and will continue to pursue us until we are caught in His embrace and we ‘get’ Him and what He has done for us. His death and resurrection on the cross is nothing short of being glorious.
Next up is the pop ballad ‘Still Here With Me’, a declaration from the band that no matter what we are going through, even if the world says we are alone, we know as Christians that God is holding our hand through the storms and the valleys every step of the way and he will be with us always. Singing with such an assurance and deep conviction, Josiah’s passion for Jesus is very encouraging. The tag at the end of the song also brings a familiar truth and shows how deep the faith of the band runs through ‘…You’re still here with me…’
‘All Around the World’ rounds out the first five tracks, and is a rock song and an evangelistic call to action about spreading the gospel to every corner of the globe. In keeping with the theme of God’s love pouring out on everyone, is the chorus lyrics, in which Josiah declares ‘…all around the world from the oceans to the sky, Love is raining down, Love is raining down; from the heavens to the earth, light the fire that covers us Love is raining down, Love is raining down…’ Jesus is everywhere is through his love in which Christians share to others, He is able to penetrate the most hardened of hearts, and so His love can be known. Such an impacting and long lasting truth!
6th is ‘Mercy (Fall On Me)’ which in my opinion, is the strongest track on the album. A song of thanks to God and about how we all need His mercy to cover us, everything in this song is spot on. The earnest vocals, the soaring guitar hooks, and the thoughtful and inspiring lyrics. When things are going right, God’s mercy and grace covers us. When things are going wrong, God’s mercy and grace still covers us ‘…I’ll still believe, when it’s hard to see…’ 2nd radio single anyone?
‘What It Must Be Like’, another radio friendly song, driven by the keyboard; follows. God is everything that we can imagine, and then some. He put the stars in place, and with one word, He can take them away. That’s how powerful He is, and this song is Josiah and the band’s testament to that fact. Because He is the author and the maker; we as Christians are in awe of everything God does, and we can only marvel and imagine ‘…what it must be like…’ to be God.
The ballads don’t stop there. ‘Walk On Water’ is next, sung in the persona of Peter when Jesus called out to him during the storm (Matthew 14:22-33). With Josiah (as Peter) telling God ‘…I’ll walk on water to You, if that’s the only way to get to where You are and fall into Your arms…’ this song is also applicable today, when God calls us to do things outside of our comfort zone, which He knows will bring us closer to Him. While we may not know the immediate ramifications of following God’s will, we can safely know that He has our best interests at heart and that we can walk on water to Him and we do not have to be afraid, because He has us all the way.
2nd last is ‘I Need You’, and is about the need for God in the midst of the busyness of life, when things are slipping out of control, when our focus is to things of this world, God is the one who can breathe life and re direct our attention ‘…I need You to breathe your peace, I need You to quiet me, remind this heart that You are enough…’ God is always there, and will always show up when we ask.
And how can you not finish an album without a song written by Jason Ingram? The last song, ‘Consume Me’, is that track. Jason and Josiah have teamed up to write an acoustic track of total surrender to God, in the good times, the bad times, the easy times, the messy times, the comfortable times, the uncomfortable times. In every single time, this song is a prayer to God to ‘…consume me Lord, every single thought, consume me Lord, cause You are all I’ve got, There’s nothing here that I want more than to be consumed by You…’ Jason has done it again. The icing on the cake on a well thought out and inspirational blessing of an album.
On ‘Love Is Making a Way’, Sixteen Cities have poured their heart and soul into this album, given it their all. An album about how God is with us and that He will help us through our storms, all I can say is for 2012, the band is firmly in the forefront of one of my favourite bands behind Kutless. Well done guys, and may you keep continuing to bless people with your ministry. This second album has the band more matured in leaps and bounds, and I can only imagine what they’ll accomplish with their third full length album.
- Sound of Love
- Love Is Making A Way
- Still Here With Me
- All Around The World
- Mercy (Fall On Me)
- What It Must Be Like
- Walk On Water
- I Need You
- Consume Me