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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Ten Shekel Shirt
I must make an admission: Ten Shekel Shirt’s 2001 release, Much, is one of my top ten Christian albums of all time. It captured worship in a very simple and expressive way during a time when worship was being marketed to its extent. So when I had the chance to review their newest release, I had to jump at the chance.
Several things have changed since the debut album. First, after multiple personnel changes, lead singer/songwriter Lamont Hiebert is the only remaining “member.” For many bands, this kind of turnover could be detrimental to the quality of the overall sound. But luckily for Ten Shekel Shirt, Hiebert has always pretty much been the core “member.” He’s been the driving force both musically and lyrically since the beginning, and his influence is all over this project.
The second noticeable change is the purpose of the band. When their debut was released, their focus was primarily worship oriented music. Now their music has almost become a soundtrack to their activist spirit, specifically their work to abolish slavery. This activism led Hiebert to found Love146, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping end child slavery and exploitation.
Ten Shekel Shirt’s newest release is Jubilee. The growth of Hiebert as a musician and songwriter is measurably noticeable. These songs plant themselves with the listener, then swell from a dramatic whisper to a beautiful wall of sound. Hiebert has succeeded at giving each song its own life and allowed the production to compliment each individual track.
What is noticeably missing is the lyrical sermons that many other socially involved bands can’t help themselves from. While Ten Shekel Shirt finds their message to be very important, it doesn’t override the entire project. Activism makes an appearance, but also keeps its distance, which gives the rest of the project a very purposeful feel.
Ten Shekel Shirt is an example to other young bands to what musical progress should be. They continue to make great music that not only entertains, but also has the ambition to create actual change.