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1 Letting go
2 The coming king
3 You are here
6 Jesus you reign
7 Beautiful savior
8 Peace like a river
9 Who would?
11 A million suns
Edge of the Ocean, the sophomore release from the Steve Deal Band does exactly what a second record should do. In keeping the atmospheric, free-flowing feel of Deal's earlier work and adding the passion and precision of a live band, Deal and crew offer a unique progression from their previous work. Whereas the first record was made up of a majority of programmed pieces with some live band sections, Edge of the Ocean is an all-out band record. Let's break it open and see what's up...
Steve Deal's songwriting is just as consistent as ever. It's as if he intuitively knows what texts and melodies are going to work - what's going to "stick" in the minds of the listener/singer. I think these songs work best in more charismatic worship settings as they are fueled more by passion and spontaneity than more linear-framed thinking. Deal writes prayers -- simple and repetitive, but set in melodies that any writer would be lucky to dream up.
Some of the strongest songs include "The Coming King," a climbing anthem with a great droning acoustic underpinning that builds the tone to a impressive ending. I also love U2-tinged "You are Here" and the echoing "Yahweh." I like that the band isn't afraid of tying these songs to each other. While many records would recoil at the thought of two tracks in the same key, the Steve Deal Band approaches this project as a worship experience and not just something to be thrown in an iPod. I also think that this record gives us a better glance of the band's skill in blues and at some places, even in jazz.
The record also serves as great example of quality tone. The guitars on the record are crystal clear with just enough bite to be overdriven without distorted. I also think a lot of church keyboardist would benefit from checking out the simple tones and synth layers here.
I think there a couple of songs that don't work. The opening track, "Letting Go," is a good song, but its place as the record's opener doesn't give any indication of the tracks to come. It's a bit mellow for an opening track and may suffer because of poor placement. I also like the blues/jazz feel of "Peace Like A River," but I don't know if it melds with the strong base of tracks that make this record stand out.
As someone who uses Steve's song in my worship team, I understand that a few tracks might be a bit daunting to musicians and singers. I would encourage leaders and players to really make sure to pick songs they know they can nail. Steve's text are closely linked to the tones and rhythms that accompany them and can often hinder the worship experience if not played with accuracy.
I think the Steve Deal Band is seriously underrated worship band. To be honest, the music is hard to classify...it's ethereal and rocking and almost spontaneous in its delivery and that's hard to explain to somebody in a two-line album description. But in a world of cookie-cutter, clich worship acts, isn't that what so many of us are looking for?
I strongly encourage you to pick up this great collection of tunes.
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