Album Review: Remedy Drive – The North Star

A rock and roll album to shine a light on slavery and injustice.

Remedy Drive

There’s a common misconception amongst non-believers that Christian music is all about praise, worship, and gospel songs; that it’s over sentimentalised, cheesy, and mentions God or Jesus in virtually every line, and therefore would have no appeal to anyone usually interested in secular rock or alternative. In this new music section of Godinterest, we hope to dispel some of those myths by exposing and reviewing some of the best rock, punk, hip-hop, urban and alternative albums, singles and EPs that fall under the Christian moniker.

These days, a growing number of bands and artists are moving away from Christian record labels and shirking the generic label of “Christian band”, opting for a more subtle and insidious approach, creating music and lyrics that appeals to a secular audience and sometimes perhaps, on the surface, pass as a regular songs. But dig a little deeper and the faith and purpose of these artists shines through, and by using their God-given creative talents to spread the Word for those who might not normally get to hear it (ie. not preaching to the choir), these unsung heroes of the Christian music world deserve a little bit of accolade for the good work they’re doing.

This week, pop rock trio Remedy Drive released their seventh studio album under that name, since changing it in 2006 from Remedy. The band are unashamedly Christian and their faith is clearly a big part of who they are, with plenty of little biblical references littering the lyrics here and there (the title being one of them – The North Star), but the album itself actually focuses on a specific and important issue the band wishes to expose and discuss. “We’re making a rock and roll album to shine a light on slavery and injustice” they stated on their Kickstarter page which was launched on September 27th, 2017. Within a month, they had astonishingly raised $37, 361 with the help of 515 backers. Remedy Drive might not be topping the charts, but they clearly have a dedicated and loyal fanbase willing to show that through their donations and continual support.

Lead vocalist and songwriter, David Zach, who was a founding member of the band way back in 1995 has spent the past four years out in Southeast Asia and Latin America, “finding evidence of sex trafficking, using covert gear to capture that evidence and then partnering with local authorities to make raids…Our goal was that the devastating reality of slavery and injustice would find its way onto this album. We need your help to get these songs out there. Songs that have been inspired by the courage of ordinary people in history and today that are fighting against injustice. Songs that I hope and believe will inspire ordinary humans to live like Martin Luther King Jr. said with a “dangerous unselfishness”.” Dangerous unselfishness seems like a familiar concept from the Bible, and of course, one that should be encouraged and worked into our lives as Christians if we are to fulfill God’s desire of living in his image and being as ‘Christlike’ as possible.

Remedy Drive
Remedy Drive – The North Star

This is actually the second album of theirs along the same theme, with the 2014 album Commodity also addressing the same issues. The North Star could perhaps be seen as a Part II to that, although it stands on its own as a great album with some memorable tracks.

Having quickly and easily achieved their monetary goal, the band recorded and released the album entirely independently, having split from their label, Centricity (a Christian label), back in 2013/14. Since then they’ve been doing just fine on their own and consistently putting out high-quality music in the alternative genre. These guys are pretty hard to classify in terms of styles. The beats are funky and up-tempo, with shimmery guitars, harmonious vocals, and some electronic elements but also heavier sections with screeching guitar solos and thundering bass.

“You don’t look a thing like Jesus Christ to me, you look like self-righteous apathy…” mocks Zach sarcastically on Warlike, a dirty half-rapped rocker criticising the capitalist, nationalist and consumer-driven societies we’re all currently a part of whether we like it or not, asking how we became this way, and why we put money and possessions before other people. 

One of the highlights and reoccurring themes of the record is the chorus of Sunlight On Her Face. It’s probably the most depressing of the various tracks, and details the story of a fifteen-year-old American girl trapped into a life of prostitution in a foreign country, praying and wondering if God will answer her. The chorus is catchy and stays with you, particularly as it’s repeated again in the final track, a sort of reprise of the song entitled Sunlight On Her Face (Cello).

It’s not always an easy listen, but it’s not supposed to be. Although the music is often jaunty and happy sounding, with catchy choruses and beats, borrowing from different genres, even a touch of hip-hop with the occasional rapped lines (see You Got Fire, Warlike), but the lyrics are sometimes sad and dark, describing the pain and suffering of those trapped in sex trafficking. Despite the dreary subject matter, there is a definite message of hope, and that if we work together (and with God’s grace) we can overcome these situations and put a stop to what’s going on. The record is definitely designed to make people think, and it does that. Hopefully, it will encourage people to take action too – “give me action, not your words, one spark catches a fire, one voice becomes a choir”, as Zach sings in Brighter Than Apathy.

The North Star is also genuinely a really good pop/alternative album, but the best part about it…is the fact that it’s not just that. Remedy Drive has something to say. They’re delivering a positive message to the masses, and one that will surely make a difference to all that hear it. Keep up the good work, guys!

Written by Bec Simpson

Becton Simpson is a freelance writer and music journalist from the UK who comes from a secular family background but has been a Christian for four years.

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