Newsboys’ 18th overall studio album, and fifth with Michael Tait as lead singer, is LOVE RIOT (2016, Fair Trade Services). Rounding out the group are: Jody Davis (guitars, background vocals), Jeff Frankenstein (keys, background vocals), and Duncan Phillips (drums). In the CD credits you will find the following words: “Newsboys would like to thank our wives, families, friends, and loved ones...Thank you for your sacrifices, love, and support! We could not do what we do without you and we love you all!...And most of all, thanks be to God for His bountiful blessings! May we continue to honor You in all that we do and say, Amen!”
Hank Bentley, Mia Fieldes, and Colby Wedgeworth wrote the opening catchy pop/rock number, ‘Crazy’. Like the DC TALK classic ‘Jesus Freak’, this song makes it clear that a Christian shouldn’t care if the world judges them a little off for their beliefs: “Some say strange, some say odd/I say child of the living God/Some say mad, some say wrong/I say child of the living God/Crazy/I don’t care if the whole world calls me/Crazy/I don’t care if it looks like I’ve lost my mind/I’m alive to live a reckless, righteous, foolish life/Maybe I was born to be crazy”. ‘Hero’ reflects with gratitude on the events of Easter: “Light shattering the darkness/Taking up a cross/You reached beyond my brokenness/Love overturning all the heartache/Taking on a grave, leaving death powerless, powerless/You took the nails/I’m forgiven/Cleared my name/Every sin is washed away/It is finished/You’re the reason I am free”.
The title track, ‘Love Riot’, is a pop/rock song written by Zach Hall, Nathan Barlowe, and Bert Elliot. It is about fulfilling the Great Commission: “We are an army of the truth/We’re on the march to rescue you/Don’t have to make it on your own/We’re holy rebels and when we yell/The mountains fall, the oceans swell/This is the time to let them know/Oh, what are we waiting for?/Let’s take it around the world/We’ll start a fight and join the fight/In this love riot/Oh, ready, set, here we go/From London to Tokyo/You gotta unite and join the fight in this love riot”. Juan Otero and Pete Stewart wrote ‘Guilty’, a wonderful adult contemporary ballad that dares us to be Daniel’s: “Even if it gets me convicted/I’ll be on my knees with my hands lifted/If serving You is against the law of man/If living out my faith in You is banned/Then I’ll stand right before the jury/If sayin’ I believe is out of line/If I’m judged because I’m gonna give my life/To show the world the love that fills me/Then I wanna be guilty”.
‘You Hold it All (Every Mountain)’ is a praise and worship song: “From the highest of mountains to the depths of the sea/From the planets in motion/To the breath that we breathe/From the womb of the barren to the rich and the poor/To the dreams of the orphan/Every heartbeat is Yours/You hold it all, every mountain, every valley/You hold it all, every teardrop, every heartbeat/In my weakness/You’re my victory/In my sickness/You surround me/I believe that You hold it all”. ‘No Longer Slaves’ is a beautiful anthem that declares one’s spiritual identity as a Christian: “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God (2X)/From my mother’s womb/You have chosen me/Love has called my name/I’ve been born again, into Your family/Your blood flows through my veins”.
Mark Stuart and Seth Mosley wrote ‘Family of God’. It is a terrific, rousing anthem that makes good use of the MUSYCA Children’s Choir. It reminds us that as individual Christians we are a part of something much bigger: “There is no more condemnation/There is only grace/We are family here/Colors and stains disappear/There is no doubt you belong/This is the family of God/No matter who you were when you walked through the door/Here you’re no orphan anymore/Brothers and sisters by blood/This is the family of God/Oh, we are sons and daughters of the King/We are, we are the royal family!” ‘Committed’ has a chorus with a bouncy beat that gives testimony: “I am committed, I’m not ashamed/I pledge my allegiance to Jesus, my King/I am committed, got nothing to hide/I’m not giving up, not selling out, I’m in this for life/I am committed, to Christ”.
‘Earthquake’ is a techno pop song of spiritual surrender: “I need an earthquake/To shake me until it breaks me down/I’m giving You everything/My pride’s crashing to the ground/Shatter my walls, let my kingdom fall/I don’t wanna wear this crown no more/My heart is Yours to take/It’s You that can save me/It’s You that can shake me/God, I need an earthquake (2X)”. Micah Kuiper, Juan Otero, and Jason Walker wrote the last song, ‘What I Want Them to Say’. It reflects on one’s legacy: “What will they think about the things I did?/What will they say about the life I’ve lived?/I want them to say/’He’s the one whose faith didn’t fade/When everything crashed, he didn’t cave/He never lost his awe and wonder/The one that kept me from going under/And he ran a good race’/That’s what I want, what I want, I want them to say”.
It is encouraging for me to see the ministry of the Newsboys, a band that impacted me spiritually in my teens and twenties, continuing to impact the lives of Christians, including myself, today. The line-up changes over the years have not diminished this band’s passion for Jesus Christ and its ability to put out top quality, relevant Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). LOVE RIOT will encourage all believers to hold fast to their faith and be bold in sharing the Gospel message. Michael Tait’s vocals and the background vocals are a particular strength on this record! There are a couple dandy photos of the band included with the CD. I’m rating LOVE RIOT 93%. For more info visit: www.newsboys.com and www.fairtradeservices.com.