Bebo Norman - Lights of Distant Cities
Last modified: 24 Sep 2012
Lights of Distant Cities
is the eighth studio album from Bebo Norman
and was co-produced with close friend and longtime live collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Gabe Scott along with Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson, Sara Groves).
The album opens with title track Lights Of Distant Cities
which has some clever drum work that adds so much to the song from the off. The track grows in structure during the duration of the song, and with each second the guitar work becomes more prominent, and from that the imagery of the track comes across in the lovely guitar riff, feeling like a bursting sunrise.
We then move into The Broken
, which mixes together the modern folk sound and the guitar tones of a classic U2 track. These two sounds mixed together make something I would call Anthemic Folk Rock. I'm not sure if that will catch on. In regards to the song, it cuts back for the chorus, which adds a nice dimension to the song, but it's the layers of the different guitars that make this song a little bit different to the other rock records out at the moment.
At The End Of Me
has some brilliant bass work, playing along beautifully with the atmospheric synths, again it's hard to get away from the U2 comparison. What does stand U2 and Bebo very much apart is the difference in styles of voices. Both have great character in their voice, but if anything I feel like Bebo's voice has more drama and storytelling within it. Moving away from the voice, it's during this song that Bebo again uses the layering technique, and as the song moves on it gets stronger and bolder.
The first time on the album that we hear just an acoustic guitar is in the track Daylight Break
, and the guitar tones are perfect. The picking of each note is truly sublime and wonderful to listen to. If I had to put this song into a genre, it could easily fit into the modern country rock box, it's the way the lyrics and vocals flow into the music that give it real feeling.
While the second verse of this track has more of walloping kick than the first few songs of the album, it never fully steers away from that country feeling. The line "I can still see the Daylight Breaking Out"
sums up the song completely, with beautiful use of imagery. It feels like a song that would be played while the sun rises over a country field.
Sing Of Your Glory
is a stark contrast as it's the first song on the album that has a ballad feel to it, using just a piano. This is where the dramatic voice of Bebo comes to the forefront. This guy can sing with power and vigor in his voice. He doesn't let himself be a carbon copy of any other singer, he is who he is, and that's got to be any singers biggest compliment.
This album seems to have a fair few types of songs. For example World Gone Dark
is a very intense track as Bebo sings "Fall like a fire from the sky"
with a powerful guitar that seems intent on sounding as big and intense as anything I have heard from an acoustic guitar track.
Then on the total flip side you have tracks like Wine From Water
and closing number Go With You
, which are two of the more quieter acoustic ballads of the album, again both of these show Bebo and his amazing voice at it's best.
There are many sides to this album, but all the tracks sound great and this makes for a truly great album with excellent use of guitars and an extremely talented vocalist. But what marks this album out more than any other album is the fact that Bebo has such great imagery in his songs. There are not many songwriters that can do that over the course of a whole album.
Review by Jono Davies
Sing of Your Glory
At The End