REVIEW: Not Ashamed — In Spirit and Truth (SINGLE)
Adding bagpipes to a song from the Contemporary Christian genre is an unexpected move but Not Ashamed doesn’t stop there. This band, evidenced by their name, doesn’t shy away from challenges and puts out music backed by the courage of their convictions, Removing the message from the band’s new single still leaves listeners with a song that brims with diversity rather than following a predictable path.
Plenty here is familiar. It is far from uncommon for songs of this ilk, compositions praising God’s grace and promising to honor it always, to adopt an upward push with its music. “In Spirit and Truth” has humble and near-hushed beginnings but, like a painter, the band drops more and more instrumental color into the song as it progresses. It’s important to point out that Not Ashamed takes their time with the song’s development and balancing it with their clear passion for the message in their lyric is harder than it sounds.
Restraint is present in the song’s video too. It isn’t your typical promotional clip as it isn’t exclusively filmed just to generate sales but, instead, the band envisions it possessing further utility in serving church congregations. This sensibility says something essential about Not Ashamed. They unquestionably would not turn away notoriety for their music, even fame and profit, but it is clearly not their sole reason for being. Their true motivation, beyond all others, is serving as an instrument for God’s word.
They do so without hitting listeners with apocalyptic prophecies of doom, disapproval of the modern world, and all of the fundamentalist stuff listeners sometimes stereotypically associate with Christian music. Or else they label the music too pure, too saccharine. Not Ashamed doesn’t veer in that direction either. The lyrics and music alike for “In Spirit and Truth” aspire to performed poetry minus the pretentiousness that implies. They clear that high bar with room to spare.
The lead vocals resonate with commitment. There’s nothing plastic or cookie-cutter in the way the singers interpret “In Spirit and Truth” with a willingness to give themselves over completely to the moment and, as a result, the vocals sparkle. Richard Varno’s lead vocals set the tone and remain strong throughout. Rod Hutchinson’s bass and Don Wunder’s drums make all things possible, however.
They master the song’s groove early on and make elastic turns along the way without slowing the song’s momentum. It’s the bagpipes, however, courtesy of Daniel Pentecost, that will likely leap out at each new listener. Not Ashamed is smart to not make it omnipresent and it does not tower over the song’s other instruments, but there’s no question it has a significant effect on the cut.
This single has a good chance of drawing a diverse range of listeners. Some will undoubtedly be turned off by the nature of the band’s material without ever hearing it out. No matter. Many more, devoted or not they may be, will hear the life-affirming love present in every second of this song.