The Many is a Chicago-based indie/folk gospel band with a desire to equip people to sing praise and lament to God. They self-describe their music as “feet-on-the-ground, heart-in-hands, scars-revealed, wild and holy, liturgically-seasoned music of resistance, reconciliation and restoration.” The Many finds its home among The Plural Guild, a collective who craft and curate music, poems, prayer, visual art, liturgy and experiences for worship. Gary and Lenora Rand, founders of The Plural Guild and producer/lyricist for The Many are connected to progressive and ecumenical movements such as the Wild Goose Festival. This particular album, “Love > Fear” represents their goal of singing songs that confess fear, give space for lament, and look for hope.
Musically, this album is clearly built on the power of the lead vocalists and their respective strengths (Darren Calhoun, Leslie Michele, and Hannah Rand). Their harmonies are rich and plentiful on the tracks, providing a supple bed of voices for the listener to rest in. In the title track, “Love > Fear,” the three distinct yet blending vocals are a vivid illustration of reconciled musical/vocal styles. These vocal arrangements are generally easy to hear and follow, and thankfully the charts are available via Convergence Music Project (but unfortunately not on SongSelect). With the lead sheet, a congregation or gathering of folks could reproduce many of these songs. As opposed to much of the popular/indie music being written for congregations currently, this album is largely built on piano (and a nice assortment of Rhodes and/or other electric piano tones). The songs are not the “arena rock” of Hillsong but rather fit in a room that can support a piano, a bass guitar, and drums. Occasionally a cello, violin, or strings pad support the arrangements as well. Lyrically, this album is theologically and culturally aware of the struggles of the oppressed and the “other.” Notable songs include the Advent track “Waiting for You” and the song of response to the Lord’s Table, “The Broken Body of Christ.” The aforementioned title track and the concluding track, “Beyond Belief” are gospel-influenced songs with powerful dynamics to support the important lyrical anthem of God’s sure, strong love for us. Songs like “Tear Down the Walls” and “Remember When” point to The Many’s interest in crafting songs that purposefully include the excluded, and this multi-ethnic band has demonstrated their goal of pursuing justice and mercy in song.
Churches who desire to have more songs that give voice to lament and questions will find many possible resources on this album. The production of the album puts the strong lead vocals front and center and the harmonies are intended to draw the listener into singing along. Though a congregation may need to simplify some of the melodies and may not have musicians capable of some of the more gospel-influenced songs, the strong melodies and valuable lyrical perspective set this album apart.
To listen to the album, go to: Apple Music Album Link
Review provided by David Calvert, who is the Creative Arts Director for Grace Community Church in rural North Carolina and a PhD graduate in Theology and Worship from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.