Album Review: Now By Fireflight

By Paul Gibson | March 11th, 2012 | Posted In Album Review

Fireflight Now - coverMarch 6, 2012

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The title of Fireflight’s album is Now, implying a question of time.
It’s something of a misnomer, considering the band spends nearly the entire CD asking: “Where?” As in, “Where is God?”
That is both Now’s greatest strength and greatest weakness: In it, Fireflight tackles some weighty subjects well worth addressing – but in the end it does not seem to realize it has done so.
First, Fireflight fans will like this album. Musically, it is essentially indistinguishable from the band’s two previous hit records, Unbreakable and For Those Who Wait. It’s not quite as heavy as those two, which could be a disappointment for some of us metalheads, but Fireflight has never had problems composing mid- and up-tempo rockers.

Songs like “Stay Close,” “Stronger Than You Think” and the title track fit well within the vein established by radio hits like “Unbreakable” and “Desperate.” Fireflight has a good formula going, but like any band with a good formula, the question is rapidly approaching: Will the band progress or stagnate? Time will tell.

Lyrically, on the other hand, Fireflight has never been better. The album is heavily thematic – focusing on the darkness of God’s absence and contrasting it with the light of his love, and exhorting listeners to overcome the fear that holds us in the former and keeps us from the latter.
In this way, the band explores themes sadly still rare in modern Christian music.The opening line of the album, from the lead single “Stay Close, is: “Hiding from the past, but it’s eating me alive.” Other lines include: “Lost in a world of dark delusion, I’m reaching for the light,” “My throat’s torn up from all my screams, but no one can hear me,” “I dare you to love me when I can’t even love myself,” and “Fresh tracks, the tears upon my face trace the pain I can’t erase.”
In all of these songs, the listener can glimpse the typical Christian formula – verses of darkness, chorus of hope. There seems to be a fear of recording a single song without a positive message at the end, which restricts the band’s ability to truly explore the subjects it seems to be passionate about.

The darkest Now gets is in the first song.

“Stay Close” opens with the album with a plea for God to “save me from the part of me that’s begging to die” and a chorus begging for him to “come close, come close and call my name.”
The question has been asked for millennia, yet rarely broached in modern Christian music: Where is God? Why isn’t he here? Who will save me?

This question is best handled in the poignant track “He Weeps.”

The song asks: “Where is God when she won’t eat, when her bones start to show? Is He there when she’s lost control? Where is God when a father turns his back on his son? Can someone tell me what he does?“

The answer, of course, is found in the song’s title, and it’s a refreshingly simple, yet profound answer to the problem of theodicy.
But songs like “Escape” and “He Weeps,” which most strongly state the nature of the problem yet transition quickly into the nature of the solution, seem better suited for the end of an album that focuses soberly on these issues.

Instead, the song order leaves the first half of Now a closed loop lyrically, the problem stated, the answer given. Now what to do with the second half?
Indeed, “Rise Above” and “Now,” the last two tracks on the album, descend into cliché in their effort to move the listener beyond the motif of the stronger first half.
“If we just live like we mean it,” Dawn Michele sings in “Rise Above. “If we loved even when we don’t feel it.”
Of course, if  life were that easy, everyone would be doing that, right? The shallowness of the message undercuts the strength and depth of the rest of thealbum, coming at the end as it does. Likewise, on the title track, the final song we hear, the message is essentially the same – though better delivered in the form of an upbeat rocker.

The album ends with the line: “This is your time now!” Although it seems to call for a listener response, what is the listener to do with this? What choices have we been given? The best answers were packed into the beginning of the album, and the clichés were packed into the end. As a result, the listener comes away with the feeling that all we need to do is try harder and we might get this life thing right.
But as Fireflight reminds us earlier in the disc, life is difficult, and we need more than our own ability bounce back and roll with the punches. We need a higher power, one who sometimes seems quite far away from us.

[rating=3]

~Paul Anthony

Favorite Tracks:
He Weeps
Stay Close
Stronger Than You Think

 

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