Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
Opposite Way by
"...a strong effort by these guys who truly do represent a fresh direction and a fresh voice for praise and worship music."
It’s obvious that Leeland’s first musical effort, The Sound of Melodies, was a success, and when a band’s first album garners both a Grammy and a Dove nomination, the pressure could be intense to turn out a stunner the second time around. If the guys in Leeland felt that pressure when recording their follow up to their sparkling opener, they handled it well. Opposite Way is quite an impressive album that highlights the real strength of this band, that being the soaring vocals of Leeland Mooring. Mooring, along with band mates Jack Mooring, Jake Holtz, Mike Smith, and Matt Campbell has put together an album with sounds reminiscent of Coldplay, U2, and Switchfoot while at the same time impressing their own sounds and creative lyrics on each track.
Album opener “Count Me In” is a strong piece that features great backing vocals on the chorus and a wall of sound that is unmistakably inspired by U2. There is a nice break on one repeat of the chorus that features Moorings vocals over a confident bass line that brings just the right amount of build for the last chorus of the song. Bright, catchy and fun, there’s no question this song will be a chart topper.
“Tears of the Saints” is such a strong plea from the first album that it called for a strong follow up song similar in tone on the second album. “Enter this Temple” seems to fit the bill. One of the strongest tracks on the album, this piece features some amazing vocal dissonance on the chorus that just makes me melt every time I hear it. The vocals are super tight, and Mooring’s passionate plea “To be like you are, to be where you are. Father, come touch your people” is one of the most intense musical moments on the album. The musical intensity lends itself well the to obvious passion of the plea, and I really believe this song will become a trademark song for Leeland
Mooring’s vocals are passionate for another reason on “Wake Up” as the plea this time is directed at the church. The chorus is strong, admonishing “We need to wake up, wake up. Live like God, Pour out love”. The song on the whole is upbeat and reminiscent of Switchfoot with big, sunny hooks and strong instrumentation throughout.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is “The Beginning and the End”. I was really impressed with this piece because of its alt-country leanings (is that a banjo I hear?) The instrumentation is stripped down somewhat and that pushes the vocal up to the forefront. The steady ostinato of the bass line also helps to create an atmosphere of mystery but holds the structure of the song in place. While the CD is strong overall, this song in particular point towards musical growth for the band. It’s fresh and bold, and personally I love the direction it takes.
Other notable songs are “Don’t Go Away” for its upbeat, California feel, “Thief in the Night” for its lyrical imagery, and “May our Praise” for the sheer emotion of Mooring’s voice throughout. I can see “May Our Praise” translating easily into church worship services, but more than that I believe it will become an anthem for this band while on tour.
Opposite Way is a strong effort by these guys who truly do represent a fresh direction and a fresh voice for praise and worship music. My hope is that as they continue to grow as a band, they will step away from some of their tried and true song formulas, because there are a few tricks they use repeatedly. In spite of a few formulaic songs, Mooring’s vocals carry each song to a new level. His passion is unmistakably authentic. These guys are brilliantly sincere on stage, and that sincerity seems to bleed through to the recorded version of their songs as well. Leeland is a band that truly worships and they have produced yet another CD that will allow them to carry their message of praise as effectively if not more so than Sound of Melodies.
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com