Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sabio – Escape

I’ve mentioned Sabio in many blogs (here, here, here and here). I think very highly of them. However, I have only 4 friends who’ve heard of them (including 2 siblings) and only 3 who actually like them. This is traumatic for me, because if they had ever released more than 8 songs, they could have been my favourite band ever.
Yes, that’s right – they only released 8 songs. One CD. And yes, it’s that good that if they had produced more, they could be my all-time number one band.

I discovered Sabio at Spring Harvest in about 2003 when they supported Steve. I only remember one song, which may have been called ‘You came down’, and it convinced me to buy the album. The song wasn’t even on the album, but 8 other crackers were.

The album is about being committed to God. It’s an incredibly strong theme, evident from the start of the first song and continuing to the last. The album has a 4x2 structure – four groups of two songs. Two upbeat, pop-rock songs, two alternative, more meandering songs, two heavy rock songs, and two light, piano driven songs. But it doesn’t feel artificial at all – it’s an incredibly honest and vulnerable album.

So, one song at a time…

Meaning of my Life
The album opens with a catchy light-rock song of outright commitment to God with lines like ‘and just like a child, I’m clinging on to you, declaring God as the reason for and purpose of life. It’s quite guitar-focused, but the guitar is light and airy rather than crunchy. Combined with the tight drums this gives the song a bouncy feel which is very easy to listen to. It builds slightly into an anthemic chorus, with a backing choir in places. The lyrics are relentless but creative and cleverly written to give various pictures of absolute dependence on God. After the expected middle eight (which is unfortunately unremarkable), the chorus kicks in again before extending into the outro.

Dreamers of the Day
Musically similar to track one, this song is about being part of God’s plans and dreaming his dreams – ‘we’re still believing that there are greater things to come’. The overall beat is slightly syncopated, and the verses are quite low key with straight chords over the drums. Like the previous track, the music builds into another catchy chorus, though a bit cheesier than before. The middle eight at first seems like a waste, before developing briefly into and punchy and quite aggressive response to God’s work – ‘we’re moving shaking pushing breaking anything that gets in our way’. Dreamers is structured similarly to the opener but is slightly weaker, both musically and lyrically. Still, a very good track nonetheless, with a truly excellent outro that keeps developing right to the end.

The title track is the first more downbeat song on the album, with most of the song based on atmospheric synths and a wailing guitar, over electronic-sounding drums. The vocals are outstanding here, and the lyrics very deep – ‘I’m feeling like a poet, silences by his brokenness, by his broken hands’. The chorus is very short ‘let me escape again, let me escape’, but later is repeated several times. Verses two and three follow a similar theme to the first – of struggle and wanting to get out, continually getting ever so slightly heavier into the third chorus, which develops from ‘let me escape’ to ‘you are my escape’ and also changes the melody. The middle eight aches of almost despair and features some lyrics in another language (possibly Aramaic?), and then the music explodes for the final choruses, fully declaring God as the place to escape from the world.

The second downbeat song is based on Matthew chapter 6 ‘and if you feed the birds of the skies, how much more will you take care of me’. It’s a simple song about trusting in God’s provision and sufficiency. It’s mostly acoustic, and doesn’t explode in quite the manner of Escape, but has some beautiful imagery such as ‘when I can’t find the song, my rhythm broken and gone, your melody will comfort me’. The title comes fro the phrase ‘you are in control of me’, part of the chorus that features Matthew 6. The middle eight extends into the outro, focusing on the idea of safety in God. This is yet another unashamed song of dedication to God.

Money Makers
Track 5 opens in a very different style – crunchy guitars and rocky drums. It’s a song about the futitliyty of working for money ‘you’re working for the weekend to fit in with the circling’. The song doesn’t let anyone get away with it however, claiming that everyone has been sucked into the ‘money-makers game’. The music stays fairly upbeat and rocky, with the lead guitar giving most of the variety, especially in the second verse. It’s not a particularly new thing to sing about, but Sabio to it cleverly and amusingly, with lines like ‘you see you work to get the money to get the food to get the strength to go to work to get the money, to fit in with this game’. It’s a solid song, and a good buildup for one of my all time favourite songs.

Mother picks up the theme of Escape, and discusses in more detail the mess that the world is in. The verses focus on the problems with technology, education, money, celebrity culture, popular music, politics, natural disasters, starvation, capitalism, selfishness and materialism. The chorus, in contrast, both wonders about and declares the existence of a place to Escape. The place is ‘Mother’ a symbol for God – who gives the escape, comfort and security needed in such a messed up world. The second verse finishes with the chilling and inspiring line ‘materialism builds a wall that blocks the cry that comes from the poor - is there a generation that will smash it to the floor in these days?’ The music itself is fast, heavy and rocky, and the melody is uplifting, despite the desperate things being sung about. The best word to describe it all is ‘intense’ – it’s relentlessly driving music, except for the third verse, where everything except for the vocals and a few piano chords are stripped away, highlighting the lyrics that summarise the song ‘spinning, twisting, turning, the world is falling on its face today. This world needs a place it can escape, oh my mother, would you open Heaven’s gates?’. The music then crashes back into an immense guitar solo, before the outro focuses on the response of dedicating life to God – the overall theme of the album.

This is a song that makes me weep at its beauty. It’s quite a despairing song about the fear of being left alone, but deep, firm commitment to God in all situations. It’s much lighter than the previous two tracks, being driven by the piano with acoustic guitar and drums as accompaniment, which fits perfectly with its melancholic message. The lyrics are truly desperate ‘after all we’ve been through I can’t even recognise your face’, ‘whatever happened to the dreams you let me dream?’, but the song culminates with an inspirational promise ‘no matter how far away, I’m till gonna follow you, no matter how long the day, I still believe’. The music is nothing outstanding, but is the perfect platform for some of the greatest lyrics I have ever heard.

Carry Me
Another lighter track to finish the album, Carry Me sums up the themes of the previous seven songs, but rather than being about dedication to God, it’s about God’s dedication to us ‘you’ve always carried me’. It’s a very simple song, the lyrics declaring God’s outrageous faithfulness, while the music balances the album perfectly, in between the delicate Frozen and Control, the hugeness of Mother, and the accessibility of Meaning of my life. It’s a lovely ending because it brings the focus right back onto God, rather than our struggles, and at nearly six minutes it still allows for the epicness that is a feature of this album.

1 comment:

James Doc said...

Simon gave me a copy a couple of months ago, out of pure coincidence I was listening to them as reading this entry... I cannot say how good the album is! Love it! :) Fav tracks: Meaning of my Life, Escape, Money Makers & Mother. Awesome