Michael and Lisa Gungor, the masterminds behind their aptly titled duo "Gungor," have released their new album One Wild Life: Soul today. Soul is the first part of a trilogy that will be coming out over the next 12 months with the others being One Wild Life: Spirit and One Wild Life: Body.
Opening up the album is "Introduction." The synthy orchestra prepares the listener for the brilliant musical journey they are about to undertake.
The first full song on the album is "Lion of Rock," which right away introduces the listener to the ambient etheral sounds of Soul. Musically the song is quite beautiful. The quiet piano and synth pads along with percussive noises add a depth and atmosphere over the Gungor's light and airy harmonic vocals. "Every breath is give and take" is a line they sing over and over, and that's exactly what it feels like, a breath of fresh air on a track where "all is beautiful."
"Moon Song" comes in with a movie score like fervency. Lisa then comes in with pretty and well suited vocals. Again this song very much "comes to life" as it is about the birthing of the heart and soul. Perhaps more than any other song on this album, the listener gets a little feel for Radiohead like production tonal music. "Love is in the oceans deep and blue/Sail across the sky til the sky is through" the chorus rings out.
"One Wild Life" changes things up drastically. It starts with a multilayered harmony before going into an '80s style synth heavy backbeat. At the same time it has a modern feel that a lot of these dance/pop indie bands are going for. The track is the theme of their trilogy of albums coming up and asks, "what will you do with your one wild life?"
The last two tracks predominantly featured Lisa, and on "We Are Stronger" Michael is reintroduced. His voice sounds great as he channels his inner Bruno Mars. Toward the middle of the song, everything drops out to a quiet musical part where Michael sings about all the lives that matter - "every black life matters, every woman matters, every soldier matters, all the unborn matter, every gay life matters, fundamentalists matter, just a life and all its branches." The Gungors feel if everyone stands together in love we will be stronger.
"Light" is perhaps one of the most intimate songs the couple has ever penned. It is about the birth of their daughter Lucette, who was born with Down Syndrome and two heart defects. The baby's name means light, and she has been nothing but that light since she entered their lives. Little Lucie the miracle baby inspired this wonderful song filled with glimmering strings and a warm sense of love. "Light" surely does shine on Soul.
"At Sea" feels as if you are on an ocean journey with the Gungors. "Follow the stars...waves crash around" the imagery is all over the place. Lisa's vocals are stunning on this song, and the simple piano chords and heartbeat like pulse keep the song in a steady line. Through the tossing of the sea she feels the love and warm embrace of God keeping them save.
Next up is "Land of the Living" and much of the imagery and lyrical content of the song deals with love keeping us from being lonely. God's love defeats darkness and brings us home. "You can not love in moderation...lay your soul on the threshing floor" Michael belts out. Again, this is another track that features an orchestral arrangement that sounds like a building movie score.
"Us for Them" is the most worshipful tune of the record. With lyrics such as "see the face of Christ, see the mercy in His eyes, every valley shall be lifted high...the heavy laid to rest, for His judgement is now." The drums are thunderous, the guitar plucks precise, and piano work impeccable. God holds the weight of the world in His hands and in His might covers the Earth in love and mercy.
"Am I" simply features Michael asking questions, "Am I a ghost, am I an animal, am I an angel...am I anything at all." According to a recent interview with BC, Michael expressed the importance of asking questions and in this track the desperation of being lost in one's head is evident. 'Where are we in this world?' 'What is the meaning of life?' It is a good contrast as God is the "I Am" and we as humans can only wonder what "Am I."
One of the coolest and most different tracks on the album is "You." It has a bluesy folk feel sure to induce snapping fingers and clapping. Michael goes through his entire life story of encountering Jesus, accepting Him as Savior, and speaking in tongues and becoming born again. The track is a love song made to Jesus that perfectly expresses a valuable and intimate conversational relationship. This song is so powerful in many ways, and truly shows what a life long love of Christ does to a person.
Closing out the album is "Vapor" which is a great segway into the next album One Wild Life: Spirit. Lisa takes the lead on this track, and really keys in on a pure worship song. Musically you can feel the "vapor" as the song opens up into a trance of presense filled praise. Midway through the song it shifts to a huge sounding chant that then transitions back into the quiet of Michael singing "holy, the impossible and holy...vapor finds ground in You, music finds sound in You...everything rising." And as he sings of the rising, the music picks up again in unity. "Vapor" ends the album with a heart bearing and opening bang. Gungor released the music video for the song on Facebook today. Watch it here.
One Wild Life: Soul is breathtaking in every facet. The production and scoring of the album blows away a lot of their contemporaries and lyrically the messages and imagery target a deep rooted understanding of faith and prose. As for the vocals, it works much like a Beatles album, whereas Paul McCartney would have a song and then John Lennon would have a song, Michael and Lisa usually do the same. However, when the two come together to harmonize and sing leads in unison, the result is magical.
It's hard to categorize exactly what kind of music it is. In the past Gungor was mostly known for their brazen worship, but with their last release I Am Mountain and now this one, they have surely evolved into music aficionados. One Wild Life: Soul touches on worship, indie rock, folk, electronic synth pop, and symphonic epic scores in a way that is sure to leave listeners clamoring for more.