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There are a bunch of Christian radio stations where I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Not one of them plays CHH. Sure, you might hear Lecrae every once in a blue moon spitting eight bars on a Britt Nicole song, but this seems to be an exception rather than the rule.
Now, I have a few theories as to why this might be. Maybe, like in my current church, there are thoughts that it “sounds” too secular. Or maybe they endorse a slogan like a radio station I heard growing up: “All the hits, without the rap!” The nice thing is that even if the Christian radio stations in my city do subscribe to either of these schools of thoughts, Instruments of Mercy would still fit right in with the Francesca Battistelli’s and Mercy Me’s.
While the overall mix of Beautiful Eulogy’s debut, Satellite Kite, was good, their sophomore effort (when listened to on decent headphones/speakers) throws the listener into a supernatural auditory environment. From every pluck of a string to each tap of the glockenspiel the album has a majestic feel, seeking to demonstrate the beauty of God Himself.
Instruments plays as smooth as a boys choir and as engaging and accessible as a Francis Chan book. There are some straight hiphop beats (“Vital Lens” and “Organized Religion”), but even these have been given an interesting spin. The album’s first single “Vital Lens” is laced with percussion that sounds like bubbles bursting over a dishpan or can of soda while a sample that sounds like it was pulled straight off of the Tubular Bells soundtrack plays throughout.
On “Exile Dial Tone” (did Courtland sample an actual dial tone and alter the pitch? Sick!) Odd Thomas and Braille explore what it means to be the salt and light. And while Matthew 5:14-16 commissions us to not hide our light, Braille reminds us that “to follow Him will require more than bumper stickers and apparel.”
“Organized Religion” is one of the best tracks on the album. Here, Beautiful Eulogy trades verses with new labelmate Eshon Burgundy and largely unknown Jackie Hill. Each artist takes the position of a body part – ears (Jackie), tongue (Odd Thomas), hands (Eshon) and eyes (Braille). Jackie’s staccato flow fits the beat perfectly and the end of Odd Thomas’s verse is pure gold – “My speech is pathetic, instead of religious rhetoric God give me a better phonetic etiquette.” This is a perfect example of how a concept track should be.
The simple refrain of “who do you think you are?” on “According to God” is enough to make one seriously consider the meaning of their identity. The sad truth is that while many Christians consider themselves to be blood bought, we still think we are our jobs, spouses and hobbies. “According to God” serves as a reminder that even in our failure we are known and loved by the maker of heaven and earth (Romans 8:35-39).
“The Size of Sin” and “The Size of Grace” are two sides of the same coin, and together they provide the thesis of Instruments of Mercy. That God loved mankind so much that his “Innocent blood … was shed to erase every trace of sin for a chosen race,” we should be eternally thankful. These two tracks encapsulate the gospel message in new and creative ways.
This leads into the final track, “Acquired in heaven”, a song that spills conviction of the royalty and supreme authority of Jesus. Braille and Odd Thomas follow through with the charge to “Have a reason for the hope that is within” (1 Peter 3:15). Braille’s verse in particular takes the album to a spiritual climax unmatched in recent memory, with lines like “there is nothing higher, nothing more to acquire, Holy, Holy, Holy! Is the song of the choir” and “We fall before your feet, worshiping at your throne, your face is like carnelian and precious gemstones.”
In the end, Instruments of Mercy is a theological expose, causing the listener to feel as though they have just indulged in a satisfying meal of a Sunday service. It is unapologetic, yet completely apologetic of the Christian faith. Instruments of Mercy is the faith of Abraham, the resolve of Moses and the hope of Jesus all wrapped into a fulfilling forty-seven minutes.
Even as I write this review I am tempted to think that there must be something amazingly profound on this album that has never been said before. In short, my flesh wants to attribute God’s innate ability of creation to man. But as Propaganda spits on the track “Signs and Symbols”: “Scratch your temple, so deep its simple. Silly us ignore the plain, we prefer a riddle.” For all its greatness and glorification of God, all that Instruments employs is a creative rendition of God’s Holy word. Every situation has its place within the spectrum of God’s providence.
Purchase Instruments of Mercy on iTunes and all other digital retailers.
1. Cello From Portland
2. Vital Lens
3. Exile Dial Tone
4. The Size Of Sin
5. You Can Save Me (feat. MARZ)
6. Instruments Of Mercy (feat. Hello Abigail)
7. Symbols And Signs (feat. Propaganda)
8. Blessed Are The Merciful (feat. Art Azurdia)
9. Release Me From This Snare
10. Organized Religion (feat. Jackie Hill and Eshon Burgundy)
11. According To God (feat. Joseph)
12. Raise The Bridge
13. The Size Of Grace
14. Acquired In Heaven (feat. Josh White)