Album: More Than Anthems
Genre: Praise & Worship
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Standout Tracks: “Wholly Yours”, “Like No One Could”, “We Believe”
It will come as no or little surprise to those of you who follow us that we are fans of Richie and Dana Fike. After all, Richie was our first guest on the podcast. Yet that doesn’t stop us from feeling a sense of hopeful anxiety when queuing up new release. Can More Than Anthems live up to expectations and continue to demonstrate the consistent growth and maturity of performance and songwriting they’ve shown throughout their career? We were not disappointed…
Once again an independent artist, More Than Anthems was funded via a successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign and recorded live in Colorado Springs. Oftentimes the risk of recording live worship is the potential for the energy and the atmosphere of the evening not translating well to the end product. Fortunately, More Than Anthems manages – for the most part – to deliver a good flow of songs and the right amount of crowd response in the mix to keep things moving.
Vocally, it is hard to beat the wonderful counterpoint of Richie’s growl and the clarity of Dana’s alto. The blend is remarkable and their interplay contains all of the chemistry that should be there with a husband-wife duo. It gives them a flexibility in performance that allows them to move seamlessly from gentle ballad to floor-stomping rocker.
There is demonstrable growth in Richie’s songwriting. His co-writes can be found on many of the major releases over the last year – not the least of which would be his contribution to “We Believe”, whose recording by the Newboys was the most successful single in Christian music for 2013. But listen on to songs like “Like No One Could” and “Wholly Yours”. You’ll hear songs that speak to hope, longing, and vulnerability. One gets the sense that you’ve walking through the valley with Fike, coming out the other side, and singing together about that journey.
Lest this review come across as unadulterated adulation rather than an actual critical appraisal of the work, there are some points that could be improved upon. First of all, this is a worship album. If you are not a fan of the genre, the impact of the album is greatly diminished. And, like virtually any other worship release, it can fall victim to a sameness or formulaic quality when consumed in a single sitting. Certain songs that are quite good in isolation get lost in the mix and tend to blend together within the flow of the album – notably a few of the ballads.
At the end of the day, More Than Anthems is a Fike album, which means there is a good balance between congregational accessibility and solid songwriting. Catchy melodies, lyrics that generally avoid overused conventions. Will it be amongst the best in the worship genre this year? There’s a good chance. Will the songs end up on your worship leaders songlist? They probably already are.
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