Holy Needtobreathe Batman! Actually, scratch that. This really doesn’t fit that shoe in the end, as much it feels like it does in the beginning. Although, that is the first thing that comes into mind when “Rescue,” the lead single from Seabird’s debut full length, kicks in. Turns out good ol’ Bear and Bo from Needtobreathe actually helped pen it. So. With Needtobreathe in their ears and Newworldson in their wardrobe, Seabird sets out to turn Joe and Jane Christian on to their idea of classic piano rock.
For the record, ‘Til We See The Shore doesn’t really contain a single shred of sound, mood, or nuance framing anything remotely similar to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, or Led Zepplin, the so-called influences cited in Seabird’s press kit. Well, the title track paints a Liverpool scene or two, and it has a better-than-average ending. So congratulations Seab (can I call you Seab?), you’ve been inspired by the Beatles. We’ll make sure to mention you in our coverage of “Every Band Ever.”
Lets get something straight. I love piano. Love. In most cases it perks my ears twice as fast as guitar, and gets absolved of a bevy of sins other instruments never could. For a year and a half I thought “Going Green” was about Keith. I wear piano key neckties all day. I live in the Florida Keys and write articles about the Black Keys, Alicia Keys, and Ivoryline. I speak in andante and make love in arpeggio.
‘Til We See The Shore is arranged and produced for the listener to immediately identify Seabird as a piano band, yet the drums, guitars, and vocals have an “all up in your grill” grandiosity, most commonly deployed by bands who do not want to use any one instrument as a crutch. Or who do not want to appear to use any one instrument as a crutch. They want the songs to speak for themselves. The melodies to whittle into your head and bounce around the cerebellum a bit. To carry your heavy heart into uncharted places, and lift you up where you belong. Problem is, a lot of the songs just aren’t good enough.
Granted, songs like “Let Me Go On,” “Patience,” and “Sometimes” aren’t to be taken lightly. They’re quite good. But they end up serving as more of a magnifying glass to the lesser songs, spotlighting some of the indecisive stumblings of a band casting their net a little too wide.
Due to the incomprehensibly long winded list of similar artists and borrowed environments, its best to just get it over with now.
Some would say that Seabird is:
The lazy man’s Edison Glass.
The forgetful man’s Aqualung.
The shallow man’s Sleeping At Last.
The deaf man’s Queen.
The poor man’s Maroon 5. Although that’s probably more of a compliment than anything.
Jason Morant impersonating an inebriated Billy Joel.
And somehow yet again, another mind-boggling facsimile of the Christian man’s Coldplay.
It answers the unasked question; what if Patrick Watson sold his soul for an iPod full of Keane bootlegs and Downhere B-sides; then inexplicably traded it in for a brown Zune full of Leeland covering Ben Folds covering Derek Webb? And oh my gosh, “I know this girl named Phony Mahoney” has to be one of the worst lines I’ve ever heard. A feigned and failed attempt at Joel style lyrical storytelling if ever there was one.
To be fair this record should probably be considered part of the upper echelon of CCM releases this year. But what makes this (and so many similar projects) so easy to pick on is the corporate ideal that equates big-budget production values with quality, when in reality its this exact overblown homogeneity that strips away the identity of what is most likely a very talented band. Had they relied more on infallible songs than the distracting over-production thereof, it would be much harder to poke holes in a disc so full of strong vocals, jumpy pianos, and ambitious (for Christian radio) ideas.
In an effort to tie up what could quickly become as dichotomous a review as the subject in question, I’ll sum up my love/hate, or rather like/apathy of this record with an unsolicited non-condescending deep thought: in the future try harder to make the songs more interesting, rather than using production to make them only seem interesting.
Jordan Kurtz is a Patrol assistant editor and a radio host in Saskatchewan.
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