Wide-Eyed and Mystified

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June 30, 2012
Terrell and Janna Wiebe |

Having reviewed two albums from talented American Christian groups I feel it is high time I move North of the border. Canada has a number of accomplished and excellent Christian groups. Currently there are none as popular as the group “downhere.”

Marc Martel and Jason Germain put together “downhere” in 1999 when they met at Briercrest Bible College in Caronport Saskatchewan. To date they have created five studio albums and a number of uncut and demo albums. The album under review today is their 2006 release “Wide-Eyed and Mystified.”

The first and most obviously unique aspect of “downhere” is that they do not have one lead vocalist. Both Marc and Jason are co-lead vocalists. Marc's high Freddie Mercury like voice and Jason's much lower tones make for an interesting mixture that always manages to work as they play off each other and even harmonize at times. The choir boy in me likes a good harmony.

“Wide-Eyed and Mystified” was my first experience with “downhere.” I was immediately blown away by their vocals, particularly Marc. His soaring vocals in “Remember Me” give me chills every time I hear them.

*Interesting side note. My comparison of Marc Martel to Freddie Mercury earlier was no exaggeration. Marc has recently gained international fame for winning the lead vocals spot on the new “Queen Tribute Band.” If you want a good listen to Marc in his Queen role YouTube can meet that need.

It was not just the vocals that drew me to “downhere.” In their writing they are one of the most intentionally Biblical based groups that I have encountered. On their track list almost all of their songs are followed by the scripture from which they drew inspiration or the scripture from which they quoted. I have a fear of Christian artists and groups that put out track after track of worship music without being able to say where from scripture, if at all, they gained their inspiration from. That is why I appreciate am intentional group like “downhere.”

Responding to Jesus calling his disciples, downhere sings a song about our own response to Jesus' call on our lives titled “I Will Follow Your Voice.”

I can hear the people
I hear the ideals they love
I can hear preachers that please other seekers
The message of heroes and proclamation of kings

I hear the messages
I hear the debate
I hear all the love songs
I hear all the promises
I hear music that dreamers create

I won't take advice from cynics
I won't listen to the word of fools
Sure, everyone has their own take
On what I should do, but...

I will follow Your voice
I will follow Your voice
I will trust Your choice
I will not fear

I will follow Your voice
I will follow Your voice
Not my will but Yours
Be done here...

In addition to sound biblical writing I also appreciate their willingness to make the listener think or to expand the listeners’ viewpoint. The only track that is not followed by scripture is “The Real Jesus,” yet I appreciate the challenge and desire that is found within the lyrics.

Jesus on the radio, Jesus on a late night show
Jesus in a dream, looking all serene
Jesus on a steeple, Jesus in the Gallup poll
Jesus has His very own brand of rock and roll

Watched Him on the silver screen
Bought the action figurine
But Jesus is the only name that makes you flinch

Oh, can anybody show me the real Jesus?
Oh, let Your love unveil the mystery of the real Jesus

Jesus started something new
Jesus coined a phrase or two
Jesus split the line at the turning point of time
Jesus sparked a controversy
Jesus, known for His mercy, gave a man his sight
Jesus isn't white

Jesus loves the children, holds the lambs
Jesus prays a lot
Jesus has distinguishing marks on His hands

Oh, can anybody show me the real Jesus?
Oh, let Your love unveil the glory of the real Jesus

This album is a good reflection of the talent that “downhere” possesses and the thoughtfulness in which they create and write songs. The vocal quality is outstanding and listeners should really appreciate their sound biblical lyrics. The only downside I would say is that this album does not feel like as much of a journey as some of my other favourites. In a sense it seems like thirteen songs with different themes (awesome as they may be) but together on an album. Being wide eyed and mystified before our creator is picked up in the first track but is never really found again. However, sometimes I find it nice to leave the overarching story behind and just listen to a bunch of songs that I love and that I can connect with. “Downhere” and “Wide-Eyed and Mystified” are well worth your time.

Go give them a listen!

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