It’s been fascinating to see how the global challenges of a pandemic have influenced musicians and artists. For Citizens, the weight of 2020 has been a pressure cooker that boiled down to a message of what really matters.
It becomes clear almost immediately on Citizens’ fifth studio album, The Joy of Being, what has crystalized for them. On the second track, Only Jesus Christ, lead Zach Bolen sings:
Who is the way, the truth, the life?
Who is the Holy Word of Light?
Who is the vision to our eyes?
Who is the love that will abide?
The listener will be encouraged and uplifted as Bolen and the band take them on a bright, indie/worship musical journey. The album begins with possibly the best track, Heaven Is In Our Sights. This is a slow burner that makes incredible use of Bolen’s lilting, searching vocals as he sings about the everyday miracles all around us and the hope we have in the next life:
Wake up to comfort
Receive the mercy of dawn
Witness the wonder of peace
The warmth of his love.
Fans of Coldplay will dig Citizens’ mellow, soulful vibe, especially on standout track, All I Need. The mix of piano, playful drums and acoustic guitar brings to mind the best of Chris Martin but trades out the quasi-spirituality for a rock-solid Christ-centered message. That’s exactly the type of music I need filling my home in 2021.
However, that’s not to say the album doesn’t address how hard life can be. Altogether Good beautifully describes how suffering can beat us down but doesn’t have to crush us completely and reiterates God’s timeless nature. As Bolen sings:
In the longing of our souls
In the darkness where we go
In the weakness of our faith
In the silence where we wait
You are here
You are altogether good.