Aug 14, 2014
Good Christian Music (IS OUT THERE!)
To start, I’m not sure what the general perception of United Pursuit / United Pursuit Band was or is, or if anyone even has a perception of these folks. But in my strange synapses, United Pursuit equated to Jesus Culture or a more charismatic Chris Tomlin, and I wasn’t interested.
That incorrect assumption fell far short of the truth.
I must state that I have not been a long-standing fan of UP, and therefore do not know their discography like I know, say, Led Zeppelin or Sojourn. Nonetheless, Michael Ketterer and United Pursuit’s The Wild Inside breaks free of many Christian music stereotypes.
The record breaks the ice with hauntingly honest, if repetitive, “Wild One.” The brutal honesty of this track gave me hope for the rest of the album. NOTE: I’m someone who listens straight through an album for the same reason one doesn’t read only two chapters of a novel. “Wild One” faces our own helpless estate and begs for mercy, without succumbing to cliché after cliché. Acoustic guitar and vocals, nothing else, sets the tone for the project as a whole. This is Michael’s prayer. And that’s ok. We have a window into King David’s musical prayers, after all.
Switching gears from the acoustic intro, “Awaken the Child” grabbed me and told me this album was something I was going to enjoy. Adding a very tasteful loop to a solid drum part, the second track builds action exceedingly well. Despite not normally loving “ohs” and “ahs”, the chorus ends with a well timed vocalise. It’s great. No lie. Lyrically, while not exactly a Gadsby hymn, “Awaken the Child” solidly progresses The Wild Inside’s plot, while throwing in a mixolydian outro and some excellent electric bass hammer-on fills. I’d like to hear some more at this point.
“For Freedom” gives me more. Again, not quite a modern day hymn, but heart-felt hymns and prayerful pleas give this track a very pleasing feel. Rotating between syncopated and back beat drums through the pre-chorus, chorus, and post-chorus into another verse drew the ear forward, asking what comes next. What comes next? Gang vocals on the bridge. Well done, United Pursuit.
Jumping ahead to “Shine.” Unreal. Loops. Padded drums. Syncopated toms. Psalms references. This track is perfect. And we’re only through one stanza. Chorus escalates afterwards and diminishes into another verse. One more chorus and we’re into an interlude in the relative minor. This is excellent. Repeating “You are my God and Your love endures forever” with heavy, haunting drums in the background, Ketterer has escalated this junk. Perfection. A heavily distorted guitar and electronic riff take the track back into another pass at the bridge, this time with a driving backbeat. A two minute outro ties a gorgeous bow on the track. A bow with more extended electric bass riffs, harkening back to “Awaken the Child.”
After a few mellow tracks building anticipation, the album climaxes at “The Real Thing.” Despite using the overused “generation” lyric that the 2000s worship songs rely on, MK & UP focus the listener’s attention where it belongs - “we need Your Spirit.” Begging for fulfillment, the track declares, “You’re the only thing that we want.” After the band drops out, leaving a nearly a cappella chorus, horns add a refreshing change of pace to the song. A gang vocal section and spoken word outro later, The Wild Inside has only to resolve itself with a few postlude songs.
Good Christian music is out there. Yes, most of the well known stuff is horrendous. Yes, those artists pander to a particular crowd with no regard for historical hymns or musical prowess. But as Michael Ketterer and United Pursuit prove with this album, just because a band is Christian doesn’t mean they’re terrible. In coming weeks and months, I’d like to show that MK & UP isn’t the only group of talented folks who also love Jesus.