The News originally formed in Mooloolaba, Queensland in 1985. Peter Furler and George Perdikis were joined by John James and Sean Taylor. When they came to the U.S. they changed their name to The Newsboys so as not to be confused with Huey Lewis and the News. In 1988 they released their debut READ ALL ABOUT IT. Their 1992 album NOT ASHAMED, which included a cover of DeGarmo and Key’s ‘Boycott Hell’, put them on the map in the CCM market. 1994’s GOING PUBLIC won a Dove Award for Rock Album of the Year and included the fan favorite ‘Shine’. In 2009 former DC TALK vocalist Michael Tait became lead singer when Peter Furler stepped aside. Tait’s first album at the helm was 2010’s BORN AGAIN. RESTART (2013, Sparrow Records) is the group’s 16th studio album! The current roster is: Michael Tait (lead vocals), Duncan Phillips (drums), Jody Davis (guitars, background vocals), and Jeff Frankenstein (keys, background vocals).
‘That’s How You Change The World’ is a dandy techno dance song with Pete Stewart on guitars. It encourages us to truly make a difference: “It’s the kind words/A simple smile/More than showing up/Going the extra mile/It’s giving everything/When you’ve got nothing left/Sharing a little hope/With a single breath/That’s how you change the world (2X)”. ‘Restart’ was written by Joshua Silverberg, Kipp Williams, Jonathan D. White, and Michael Tait. It is another great techno dance song. It testifies that God can redeem even today: “Oh Lord, I’m a different man/You gave me a second chance/I was lost/I was fallin’ apart/But You came along/You hit the restart/You, You, You, hit the restart”.
Tony Lucido plays bass on ‘Love Like I Mean It’. On this song the group longs for a faith that is more than just head knowledge: “I have good intentions/Don’t always turn them into action/I speak love, it’s easy enough/But words are not what love is made of/I wanna do more than that/Yeah, I gotta do more than that/I want you to see it/And believe it”. ‘Live With Abandon’ is a pretty pop song written by Joshua Silverberg, Kipp Williams, and Jonathan D. White. It is the song of a band that wants to partner with God: “I’ll drop everything and follow You/It’s only Your hands I hold onto/There’s gotta be so much more to life than this/A higher calling that I missed/I want my life to count, every breath.../I’m not looking back/I’m done with that/Wanna give You all I have.../I wanna live with abandon”.
‘Go Glow’ sounds like Peter Furler era Newsboys musically. These lyrics reveal a desire for a more Christ-like nature: “Let the old you fade away/You ignite and light the day/Let the old you fade, old you fade/Old you fade away”. ‘That Home’ was penned by Juan Otero and Eric Arjes. This ballad quiets things down. It reflects with fondness on one’s deceased mother: “Momma always had the music on/Sometimes loud, sometimes soft/When I asked about her favorite song/She opened the Bible to the book of Psalms/She always found a way to talk about grace”.
‘Disaster’ is a catchy pop song that portrays God as our Great Physician and Healer: “I had to fall, had to fall apart/To find that You/Love me even after/I am a disaster/Everything is shattered/On the floor/You pick me up and hold me/God, You are the only/Remedy my heart’s been looking for/You’re the cure”. ‘Fishers of Men’ finds the Newsboys rocking out! This one encourages personal evangelism: “God, I’ve gotten good at being comfortable/It’s time to leave my comfort zone/Cause You said/Go...Go, and I will make you fishers of men/Go...Go, I don’t care who or where you’ve been/So don’t you be afraid to show the world your faith/Cause you’re never alone/Just Go...Go, and I will make you fishers of men”.
‘One Word’ was penned by Seth Mosley, Nick de Partee, and Phillip LaRue. It reminds us of the amazing power of our God: “At Your voice the blind begin to see/And the lame can walk, the captives are set free/A hardened heart can finally start to feel/Will You speak that same voice to me?.../With just one word/The stone rolled away/With just one word/You conquered the grave/Cause when You speak/The dead are raised/So here I am, on my face”. ‘Enemy’ is a moving song both musically and vocally. It is ultimately a song of surrender to God: “Never thought You heard a word I was prayin’/I stood in the way/When I needed to run to You/But I was too proud to say/Take away the blindness/Lead me through the dark/Don’t let me fall apart/Save me from my bitterness/Show me who I am/Make me who You want me to be”. ‘We Believe’ features The World Outreach Church Worship Choir. This song is a powerful adult contemporary declaration of faith: “We believe in God the Father/We believe in Jesus Christ/We believe in the Holy Spirit/And He’s given us new life/We believe in the crucifixion/We believe that He conquered death/We believe in the resurrection/And He’s coming back again/We believe”.
The Deluxe Edition of RESTART includes five bonus tracks! ‘Overflow’ is a pop/dance number that finds the band very passionate about their faith: “The love that I’m filled with, I can’t help but give it/I wanna see joy flood this world/Watch all the nations/Return to their Savior/Bringing Heaven down to earth.../It’s over the top/Your love never stops/Rushin’ through my heart/I can’t contain/I get carried away/In all that You are”. ‘Man on Fire’ features another DC TALK vocalist, Kevin Max! It speaks of God’s transforming power: “Don’t care-what people say/They stare/But I’m not ashamed/I used to act like everybody told me/I tried to just fit in/But then I met my Savior and He showed me/A new way to live.../God is a consuming fire/He burns away the dark inside/He pulled my heart into the light, the light”. ‘God is Movin’’ is pop/rock with an edge. Pete Stewart and Christopher Stevens play guitars. This song reminds us of the importance of being alert to the realities of the spiritual realm: “I’m the king of complacent/Always waiting for the right time/Just a permanent fixture/In the picture of a charmed life/I’ve been oblivious and unaware/That there’s a war raging on out there/Between the good, the bad/Every day’s a battle”.
Next up is a cover of ‘The Living Years’ penned by Michael Rutherford and B.A. Robertson. Mike and the Mechanics hit No 1 with this one in Australia, Canada, and Ireland, and it hit No 1 on the U.S. Billboard otHot 100. The Newsboys version finds Michael Tait, Chanel Campbell, Kevin Max, and Seth Mosley contributing vocals. It is written from the perspective of a son mourning his late father and speaks of how generations often clash: “Crumpled bits of paper/Filled with imperfect thoughts/Stilted conversations/I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got/You say you just don’t see it/He says it’s perfect sense/You just can’t get agreement/In this present tense/We all talk a different language/Talking in defense/Say it loud, say it clear/You can listen as well as you hear/It’s too late when we die/To admit we don’t see eye to eye”. ‘Stronger’ is a worship song written by Reuben Morgan and Fen Fielding. It shares the Gospel message: “There is love that came for us/Humbled to a sinner’s cross/You broke my shame and sinfulness/You rose again victorious/Faithfulness none can deny/Through the storm and through the fire/There is truth that sets me free/Jesus Christ lives in me”.
RESTART is a fascinating contemporary Christian pop album. The vocals are strong and the music is fresh, youthful, exuberant, and creative. The Newsboys are a band still unashamed to share their faith with the world. They want all to know that Jesus Christ is Lord! Fans of the new Audio Adrenaline should give this Deluxe Edition of RESTART a listen. I’m rating it 98%. For more info visit: www.newsboys.com and www.sparrowrecords.com.