Light Up the Sky
On their third album this Texas-bred band goes for an expansive, rhythmically compelling approach that tackles big spiritual themes with a palpable optimism. In contrast to their earlier work, the Afters embrace a poppier, more keyboard-centered sound here, showcasing Josh Havens' high-gliding vocals. Lyrically, messages of rebirth and transformation reoccur in tracks like “Start Over,” “For the First Time” and the title number. The ballad “Say It Now” approaches the theme of new beginnings in the context of a relationship, while “Saving Grace” and “Lift Me Up” are personal testimonials to salvation. Producer Dan Muckala brings out the ambient electronica leanings of the group, particularly on the slightly spacey “For the First Time” and the bubbly techno-shuffle “I Am Yours.” “We Won’t Give Up” in the rock standout here, riding a guitar riff with the crunch of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky.” It’s easy to imagine any number of the album’s tunes turning up on a TV or film soundtrack. More importantly, these songs create inspirational movies in the listener’s mind all by themselves.