First things first. Narrow Path has always been a band that served the church. We’ve always written songs to, for, and about Jesus. Typically, this has meant the songs we’ve written were written with congregational singing in mind (or at least easy enough for the church to sing). In the past few years, however, the band has shifted to writing material that’s “music informed by faith” rather than “worship music.” This is a subtle, but important, distinction. Starting with the release of the 2016 three-song single, “NP, Vol. II: Long For Eden,” the band was moving in a solidly “we’re a rock band comprised of believers” direction.
After we opened a show for a Guns N Roses tribute band at Lincoln Amphitheatre in 2017 to a warm audience reception, we saw the need to continue in that vein as we seek to be salt and light in our world as much as we can. Once writing began on what was to become the “Hail To The Liars” album, it became abundantly clear that we were writing a straight-ahead rock & roll album informed by our faith. Besides the one cover song, we’re not singing any of these songs on Sunday mornings at church.
If you want to call it “Christian Rock,” you can. However, what we’ve tried to do with this album is write about life, through the lens of our faith, just as all of us live our life in a day-to-day world, but walk by faith. To us, we labeled it as a rock album. It’s in that category online. We just hoped to make good music more than anything else.
Starting tomorrow, we’ll run down the album track-by-track to give you a written preview of what’s coming your way on Dec. 7, when the album is released to the world via all streaming/download avenues (a limited number of physical CDs will be available at Redemption campuses starting Sunday, Dec. 9 for $10 each).
Ultimately, what we want you to know is this album is about truth. The album’s title — as we’ll get into when we talk about the title track — is a bit of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm (the “truth in love” kind that Jesus employed from time to time). Lyrically, I (Daniel) noticed the concept of truth and lies kept coming up as I’d write lyrics for song ideas Kurt was shooting to me. Never has our culture been more saturated by lies. From social media often giving a perception of fear of missing out (FOMO) to politicians and preachers twisting Scripture to fit agendas, the lack of truth should concern us as believers. We are to be people of truth, because God IS truth.
Overall, we hope you enjoy the album, hope it makes you think, hope it gives you hope, hope it makes you air drum on your steering wheel a bit more, and hope it makes you raise a fist as we seek to live as a counter-culture people in our modern culture.
Track one: HAIL TO THE LIARS
Written in November 2017, this finger-exercise/STP-like guitar riff met with lyrics perfectly suited for the track. The title comes from a line in the third verse: “Hail to the liars that we’re bowing before/Praying all along we don’t reap what we sow.” The chorus is a play on the Old Testament account of the Israelites asking God to give them a king like the other nations when God had repeatedly told them He was their king and that a king would bring them low, eventually. Nevertheless, they persisted in their request. God gave them what they asked for, and it brought them low and under judgement. So often, there are things and leaders we think we need and we think they are God-ordained, but in reality, they are the exact opposite of what God desires for us and teaches us in Scripture. These lies we clamor around and celebrate often promise us riches and might, but they are the opposite of “the meek shall inherit the earth.” Let us not celebrate and rally around the opposite of the Beatitudes. So, the chorus deploys a tongue-in-cheek bit of biting sarcasm to get the point across (“Blessed are the rich and those with might/We cry more! More! More! More!”). Clocking in at just two minutes and 41 seconds, this track was a perfect album lead off, setting the stage both sonically and lyrically for where we’re going with the rest of the album.
Track two: INSTEAD
“Instead” has been sitting around in various forms since 2013. One of only two tracks not written by the collaborative work of Kurt Neighbors and Daniel Ross, this track fit the album well, sonically, and helped balance out the album, lyrically. Originally written by Daniel as a Hendrix-like blues-based groove (where the guitar line and vocal line match up as the guitar player sings what he’s playing), the track evolved into a Sabbath-like stomper, with a pentatonic-scale riff well suited for an album laced with riffs.
Eagle-eared listeners might remember this song, as it was played pre-service several times in 2013 and given out as a free live track on the old CCJ (now Redemption) Web site during that time period. Converted and Narrow Path-ized, “Instead” focuses on the work of Jesus on the cross. While we were enemies of Him, he showed us mercy instead of wrath.
For fans of Sabbath, Zeppelin, The Cold Stares, and similar blues-based rock bands, you should find this one agreeing with your musical diet.
Track three: LIFT YOUR HEAD WEARY SINNER (CHAINS)
Track three is the only cover song on the album. We’ve been singing this Crowder hit for several years at Redemption and we loved the arrangement we created around the song so much, we knew we had to put it on the album. We also decided to make it the lead-off single from the album (so you can listen to it now — hint, hint).
We are all prodigals in one form or another and we come stumbling toward grace, often not even looking for it. Let the chains fall, because nothing we’ve done can overcome the power of Jesus’ blood and His work on the cross.
We took the original and added a bit of a hard rock kick to it. We also invited our fellow Redemption Music friend Justin Bosley to lay down the slide section you hear in the middle of the track. When we play this one live, it never fails to draw the people in to participate. We hope you dig it.
Track four: NUMBERED
The Old Testament book of Job provided the basis for this psycho-surf-guitar-meets-Velvet Revolver-driving rocker. Demo’ed as a much slower groove, the song took off as the band gathered to play it for the first time at a practice on the Loogootee campus in August 2017.
“Numbered” is a conversation between God and Job — and by extension, us. Verse one and chorus one are Job speaking, Verse two and chorus two are God responding. The bridge is a back-and-forth between the two.
It’s an acknowledgement that we are limited and God is eternal. Therefore, hope is best placed in the eternal.
Track five: DAYS OF DARKNESS
The lone downshifted song on the album is the moody epic, “Days Of Darkness.” For those who dig Pink Floyd-styled epics laced with a bit more Sabbath-like heaviness will certainly dig this track (in other words, if you liked “And Still,” “The Day Will Come,” or Long For Eden,” you might find yourself digging this track — purposely placed in the middle of the album to provide a breather for the listener).
Ecclesiastes 11 provides the inspiration for the track. In other words, live your life to the fullest, but know there will be days of trouble. “Remember God before the grave/It waits for one and all/then life awaits the one who stands/We’re rescued from the fall.”
This track — initially written in 2016 and resurrected in late 2017/early 2018 — is one of my (Daniel’s) favorites on the album. This is a real acknowledgement that life contains thorns along the way. Jesus promised us we would have trouble and this track is simply a Scriptural acknowledgment of this truth.
Track six: JR.
With lyrics written on January 8, 2017, this groove-filled rocker has themes similar to the title track. Echoing the biblical account of Jacob and Esau, “Jr.” begins with the in-your-face line, “traded your birthright for a bowl of soup.” The rest of the song follows suit with a spotlight on those who have tried the eternal for the temporary — and reminding us not to make the same bad trade.
The chorus echoes this disbelief of such a bad deal. “I don’t know why/You still deny/Can’t comprehend/I’ve reached my end.” While it may have been written with specifics in mind, the song is general enough to apply to us as well. Don’t sell out eternal truth for something so temporary and full of false hope as power and glory. We should never put our trust in the split tongue, split mouth of false promises.
Musically, the groove doesn't let up and really propels the lyrics forward in a cool way.
Track seven: SAVE ME
Like the title track, this song was also written in a burst of songwriting in November 2017. A theme of sin and salvation sandwiched by two complimentary guitar riffs and then backed by a big, but pleading, chorus.
We know what we ought to do, but we don’t do it. We know what we ought not to do, but we turn around and do it anyway. This theme is as old as time, but nonetheless, we all struggle with this aspect of our walks in faith.
Musically, the verses are very much inspired by the vocal stylings of bands like Alice in Chains, with harmony and melody sharing the same space for the first half of each verse. The demo for this was listed as “country metal swagger.” That might whet your appetite just a bit for this head-nodder.
Track eight: WAIT FOR THE DAY
This song started as a jam session during a band practice all the way back in mid-2016, right around the time “NP, Vol. II: Long For Eden” was released.
Featuring a back-and-forth, Pearl Jam-esque guitar riff, “Wait For The Day” finds the band locking into a groove and not letting go until you’re bobbing your head along with the pulsating bass line and driving drums. For those who have been at Redemption Christian Church during the "VIII" series, this is the song (the instrumental version, at least) playing during the countdown each Sunday morning.
Lyrically inspired by James 5, “Wait For The Day” is a reminder gold will fade and hope placed in riches will result in pain and defeat. Those who place hope in God, however, find hope in waiting on the day of deliverance, knowing “gold will fade, waste will be complete.”
Track nine: WORDS FROM A GRAVE
Can we all agree — for the most part — social media is a vast wasteland? It's simultaneously something that has the power to bring people together, but too often, only reveals our dark hearts.
This heavy blues-based swinging rocker (think Metallica's "2x4") explores this idea with the vocal refrain of “click-clack, click-clack” sprinkled liberally throughout. Very often, our fingers get typing and leave behind our beliefs and what we say we have faith in. None of us are truly immune from jumping into the cesspool (even for those who don’t use social media).
“Words From A Grave” is a bit of catharsis put to music. It may be the largest departure from old-school Narrow Path so far. If you like stuff being belted out, you may dig this song. While the song is directed at others, it could just as easily be directed at our own lives.
Track ten: THIS DISEASE
One of the last songs written for the album (May 2018 — right before recording began), “This Disease” is, to be completely honest, about depression and anxiety. So many in our culture suffer from these twin demons, longing for peace and to be awakened from, what can often be, a nightmare-filled rollercoaster.
"This Disease" is simply a prayer, a Holy Spirit-interpreted groan to God to remove the thorn from the side of the narrator. Just as in many psalms, we pray for belief amidst the crashing waves of troubles and sorrow.
Musically, the song begins and ends with a full-throttle, full-band powerhouse sound before launching into a stop-start riff that forms the core of the verses. The chorus guitar line echoes the melody line before a punchy, descending-note breakdown. The abrupt ending sets the stage for the album’s closing track, “The End” — which we’ll detail tomorrow.
Track eleven: THE END
If you’re like some of us in the band, you might have grown up hearing — fairly endlessly — about the end of the world. So often, the book of Revelation and end times prophecies are obsessed about because they are — let’s be honest — interesting and a bit weird. The album’s final track, “The End,” is a nod to these ideas. We can all be guilty of looking to the sky waiting for Jesus to return while we accomplish nothing while we’re waiting, leaving a world to rot, in essence, because, well, we’re not going to be here — so why worry about others. Ezekiel 7 provides the foundation of the second half of each verse as the listener is reminded of the reality of the coming of the end. These parts of the song were initially written for a different song we demo’ed but eventually discarded. Lyrically, the words fit perfectly with what we were trying to say in the first part of each verse and, overall, thematically. The chorus asks the question “what do we gain here/to live in such fear?” Let us not ignore justice and the least of these while waiting for Jesus to return.
Musically, this song is easily the heaviest on the album and the heaviest song we’ve ever tracked. It also features a fair-use, but brief contribution from an end-times enthusiast, but shouldn’t be construed as an endorsement of that line of thought. If your head doesn’t get moving on this one, we’re not sure what else we can do.