Review Summary: Sometimes I find that I am fine. The walking dead brought back to life. My legs are numb, but know that I am going home.
In all honesty, I am conflicted when it comes to this album. I know that this album will not appeal to everyone, but it seems I will never outgrow a somewhat sheltered childhood; the sheltered childhood that saw me growing up with “Christian Rock Bands”, or a childhood that saw me screaming “What you got. What you want. What you need. Gonna be your savior!” to anyone who would hear me. So it is only fitting that as I embrace my formative years I cannot shake my love for Christian artists. If one were to examine a list of my favorite artists, most would have at one point in their career been labeled Christian. And so enters Brad Atkin, a talented singer/songwriter out of one of the largest suburbs of Detroit Sterling Heights, Michigan, who one day may find himself upon that arbitrary list.
the swing set
starts out the record as most album openers do, exemplifying exactly the sound Atkin attempted (and succeeded) to create. Although this track is entirely acoustic, the tone is set for the entire record. As the song ends, we are immediately snapped back to attention as the track come alive
introduces the rest of the band, to much delight of the listener. More often than not, purely acoustic albums tend to grow stale around the 3rd or 4th song, a fact that Atkin is acutely aware of. Be it the Pensacola-esque
(of Manchester orchestra) group vocals of a place broken men go
or the gorgeous vocals of Atkin’s wife Megan on multiple tracks, Stubborn Clouds
proves to be, if nothing else, an interesting and exciting listen.
As earlier implied, Atkin plays what will inevitably be labeled as “Christian” indie music. I’m am hoping that this description doesn’t conjure up images of bonfires with an acoustic guitar singing “I got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart”; far from it, Atkin sings with a sense of passion devoid from much of the music in this stagnant genre. Musically Atkin implements varied instrumentation, although for an indie artist it is fairly normal to hear banjos plucking away or synthesizers creating a musical landscape, all the while never forgoing melody or an innate sense of catchiness
. It also helps that I am a sucker for reverb-filled and delay-ridden guitar tones, which is no more prominent on this release than the climax of standout track search for shores
. Lyrics, while never trying to disguise their overtly Christian message, are often written cleverly or just plain beautifully. Although I know this is the most clichéd cliché of all time, with every repeated listen I find this record saying exactly what I need to hear.
All clichés aside, Brad Atkin is a singer who quite frankly, deserves more attention than he has recieved. While I do not pretend to be an expert on the ever expansive “indie” genre, I have seemed to notice that throughout the world, indie bands are picking up more and more steam, often times leading to a watered down shell of what past Indie/Folk bands once was. These easily digestible albums are occurring at an alarming rate, and in a day where Mumford and Sons passes for an acceptable indie band to the general public, it is refreshing to hear releases such as Stubborn Clouds
Yet I find that I’m not fine. These bitter bones are growing tired.