Christian band All Things New immediately garnered fans and media interest with last summer’s self-titled debut album. Recently the band reimagined several of their songs in acoustic-roots fashion, collecting them into a lively and endearing little EP entitled Attic Sessions. So named because producer Joe Kane recorded them in his attic studio, the title also nicely captures the recording’s laid-back vibe.
While the debut album showed them to be capable songwriters and performers, it was also highly polished and produced, rendering it similar to other CCM fare. Attic Sessions solves that problem and puts them on the map as more diverse music-makers, contributing something original and authentic into the mix.
The EP starts on the same note as the album, with their breakthrough single “Washed Over Me.” But instead of the full drum kit and drama, courtesy of electric guitars, the track starts a few seconds before the song begins while the musicians warm up. Someone idly plunks away on the banjo while another doodles on the guitar, followed by an organ burping out a few test tones. It creates that homey sense of listening to music in someone’s living room, an effect all the more pronounced because of the ambient crowd chatter and occasional whoops and hollers left in the recording.
Fortunately that banjo plucking at the beginning isn’t just a teaser. Although the banjo made an appearance on their debut album, the new version is chock-full of it, at a speed and feel that shows these boys can really play. This newer, down-to-earth sound also seems to better suit their reflections that, “My chains were broken / my debt was paid / I traded dirty rags for riches in your name.” Powered by a simple kick drum and a wonderfully honking harmonica, the song soon turns into an outright jamboree to celebrate the fact that “My search is over / I’ve found my home / there on the river I found the victory / when your love washed over me.”
A sad and soothing guitar creates the needed intimate feel for “New Man,” which relates the pain of a son when his father abandons the family: “I can remember / when he left / it’s still pounding in my chest / the pain I felt when you said goodbye.” Singer Garrett Hornbuckle performs with a conviction born from experience: His dad left the family when he was young. Although crippling, Hornbuckle goes on to sing how “Everything I was is gone / and washed away for good. / I’m a new man in you.” On the band’s website, Garrett affirms that, “It doesn’t matter what you or I have been through … in Christ you are worthy and you are whole.”
Kudos also to the band for delivering a punchy and canny cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Petty’s words have a surprising relevance for anyone who wants to remain faithful amidst a culture in philosophical free-fall: “Gonna stand my ground / won’t be turned around / And I’ll keep this world from draggin’ me down … and I won’t back down.”
Attic Sessions—like the debut album on which it is based—is a bit limited by overly general lyrics. But there is something winsome in their youthful earnestness, and fantastic instrumentals make it a standout effort. Best of all, All Things New is clearly having a good time singing about a good God—and that’s a friendly place to be.