Third Day released their self-titled debut in 1996. Their eighth studio album is WHEREVER YOU ARE (2005, Essential Records). It debuted at No 8 on the Billboard 200. It was nominated for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album at the Grammy’s and also nominated for a Dove Award. On this album Third Day is: Tai Anderson (bass), David Carr (drums), Mark Lee (guitars), Mac Powell (vocals), and Brad Avery (guitars). Avery would leave the band in 2008. Additional musicians used include Geof Barkley, Scotty Wilbanks, and Eric Darken. Half of the album was produced by Third Day and half was produced by Brown Bannister who has worked with Amy Grant and Petra.
The opening song ‘Tunnel’ is one of six that Mac Powell alone wrote the words to, while the whole band wrote the music. This rock track offers hope to the hopeless: “You’ve got your disappointments and sorrows/You ought to share the weight of that load with me/Then you will find that the light of tomorrow/Brings a new life for your eyes to see/So remember what I’ve told you/There’s so much you’re living for/There’s a light at the end of this tunnel (2X)/For you, for you”. ‘Eagles’ is one of three songs whose words were written by Brad Avery. These words make it clear that God is a sure Source of strength and place of refuge: “And I tremble with this heavy weight/And I’m buried underneath my grief/I’ll run to You and not grow faint/And I’ll lay my burdens at Your feet/I will soar on the wings of eagles/I will learn to fly high above this world”.
‘Cry out to Jesus’ peaked at No 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart. George Cocchini (credited as Tone Chaperone) plays acoustic guitar. This one is a wonderful inspirational ballad: “To everyone who’s lost someone they love/Long before it was their time/You feel like the days you had were not enough/When you said goodbye/And to all of the people with burdens and pains/Keeping you back from your life/You believe that there’s nothing and there is no one/Who can make it right/There is hope for the helpless/Rest for the weary/Love for the broken heart/There is grace and forgiveness/Mercy and healing/He’ll meet you wherever you are/Cry out to Jesus (2X)”. Musically ‘I can feel It’ is a moody rocker. It confirms that God is alive and moving amongst His people: “I keep on searching for Your presence in this place/I see Your hand at work/I feel Your touch of grace/Sometimes it falls like rain upon this thirsty land/Sometimes You gently stir the heart of every man/I can feel it/All around me.../I can feel it/I can feel Your heartbeat”.
The words to ‘Keep on Shinin’’ were penned by Mark Lee. This one has a happy pop/rock vibe to it. It encourages us to overcome our fears and let Christ’s light shine through us: “It feels like forever since I can remember/It seems like it’s always been this way/Keep the good news to ourselves, like a secret we’ll never tell/I don’t know why we’ve been so ashamed/But changes are in the air, sparks are starting everywhere/And oh, what a sweet, sweet sound/With millions of voices singing new choruses/Leading the way to higher ground/Keep on, keep on shinin’/Wherever you may be/Keep on, keep on shinin’/For all the world to see”. Next up is the reverent song ‘Communion’. The world would be a far better place if we all prayed the following words: “I will remember everything, Lord/That You’ve done for me/I won’t take for granted/The sacrifice that set me free/I hunger and thirst for Your love/Come fill me today”.
‘Carry My Cross’ is a well orchestrated song of inner turmoil and utter determination to obey Father God: “I’m praying in the garden/And I’m looking for a miracle/I find the journey hard but/It’s the reason I was born/Can this cup be passed on?/Lord, I pray Your will be done/In this world/So I’ll carry my cross/And I’ll carry the shame/To the end of the road/Through the struggle and pain/And I’ll do it for love/No, it won’t be in vain/Yes, I’ll carry my cross/And I’ll carry the shame”. ‘How Do You Know’ is a great rock song! It is one of frustration and addresses someone who tries to tell another just what they should do: “You’re thinking that you’ve got all the answers/You’ve got my situation figured out/But you’re only seeing part of the picture/There’s so much more that you don’t know about/And here you come to speak your mind/But I’ll say one more time/How do you know, how do you know/What I’m supposed to be doing?/Why do you go, why do you go on/Thinking you know my fate/So many times I’ve lost my step/But never lost my way/How do you know (2X)/When I don’t know myself?”
‘Mountain of God’ was written by Mac Powell and Brown Bannister and includes the vocal stylings of Ashley Cleveland. They should have made it a duet, trading off verses. This adult contemporary song places great confidence and trust in God: “Even though the journey’s long/And I know the road is hard/Well, the One who’s gone before me/He will help me carry on/And after all that I’ve been through/Now I realize the truth/That I must go through the valley/To stand upon the mountain of God”. This reached No 1 on the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart. ‘Love heals your Heart’ is a song of great optimism: “When you think your life is shattered/And there’s no way to be fixed again/Love heals your heart/At a time you least expected/You’re alive like you have never been/Love heals your heart”.
‘The Sun is Shining’ speaks of God’s transforming power: “Yesterday I lost/Everything I had and loved/Then I cried out for You, Lord/And You came and picked me up/And the sorrow lasted through the night/But the joy came with the morn.../I will lift my voice/No, I won’t be silent/For You heard my cry/And You turned my mourning into dancing/And so forever I’ll sing”. ‘Rise Up’ is a modern anthem and a great album closer! It includes this terrific message we all need to hear: “In life or in death/Through joy or regret/And all of the secret things you have done/No matter what comes, my friend/Nothing can keep you from the love of God”.
In the CD booklet you will find the following words from the band: “Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you’re going through, our prayer is that this music would encourage you, bring you hope, and draw you closer to the warm embrace of your Heavenly Father”. If I had to sum up the thesis of WHEREVER YOU ARE, it would be that you will go through troubles but with God you can come out on top of them. This is a splendid batch of songs drawing mostly from the genres of rock and adult contemporary. I’m rating it 88%. For more info visit: www.thirdday.com and www.providentpress.com.