Review Rating: On Repeat (4.7/5)
David Gungor and John Arndt are the minds and musicians behind The Brilliance, an unconventionally engaging worship duo with an arsenal of surprises. Their first album Brother was released with critical acclaim, paving the way for their sophomore release. It is difficult to describe their new album with a single sentence - there is so much to uncover across both lyrics and instruments. David and John show no hesitation with All Is Not Lost, perfectly arranging each and every song into a bigger picture. With amazing melodies, impactful lyrics, and deep themes, The Brilliance goes far beyond all expectations.
Throughout its runtime, the album addresses two themes: the pain of our world and the power of Jesus Christ. Two gentle and light tracks introduce these themes, with "Oh Earth" expressing our desperate state. Electronic pings are joined by orchestral strings that eventually build with chimes and fade into "Gravity Of Love." Here, the sounds brighten, the atmosphere rises, and the volume crescendos into a magnificent, majestic climax. The lyrical content turns to worship, joyfully describing the love of Jesus. "This is the gravity of love," David sings, "just as the moon follows the sun, You're all around me, You're holding everything." With an amazing album opener, The Brilliance engages listeners from the get-go and excites them for the remainder of the collection.
From here, there is a progression, a story linking the rest of the tracks. Gentle and quiet piano introduces the first in the chain, "See The Love." As the keys increase in intensity and vibrant strings join in, the song fades from calm to hopeful, though there remains a hint of desperation. The lyrics express a desire for healing and love in a world that is falling to pieces. It's a theme that carries over into the upbeat, hip-hop infused "Turning Over Tables," a fun, dance-inspiring song about standing aside each other. The climax comes with the energetic and bold "Hear The Prayers," where big brass and electronic chimes fuel the listener. "Hear our prayer, hear Your people, turn our hearts to You, make us one," the chorus sings! Out of nowhere, however, a haunting bridge comes, asking "O my God, what have we done? What have we become?"
"Will We Ever Rise" capitalizes on that moment and brings listeners back to a somber place. Wind instruments, piano, and electronic notes hint at hope, even amidst a quiet, almost solemn melody. The track brings us into the aftermath, promising wholeness and healing if we would only surrender. "Love is breaking us, remaking us," David sings, hinting at a love greater than ourselves.
"Who Is Jesus" follows with a somewhat dissonant, nearly unsettling intro that grabs the listener and demands attention. Percussion and strings blend together to create a stormy melody as the most important question ever asked takes center stage. "Who is Jesus?" David daringly asks, "… is He a man? … is He a lamb? … is He the Christ? … the face of God?" Finally, everything comes together. The hurt, the pain, the hatred, the hopelessness are finally healed when we, like the track, recognize Jesus as both Savior and Healer. "Forgive us, we are blind to what we do," the bridge pleads as the melody rages.
At last, there is rest. Gentle, mildly paced acoustic guitar and light drums lead the worshipful "Holy Holy." Two sets of vocals guide the song, honoring our Lord and Savior. Glory and holiness are the themes, acknowledging Him as Savior and God on high. After the distress, the sobriety, and the storm, The Brilliance emphasizes that our Lord reigns, saves, and heals, giving resolution to the previous tracks.
The only way to grasp the genius and power of All Is Not Lost is a full listen-through, from beginning to end. Melodically, the acoustic and electronic mixtures are amazing, in many ways both unconventional and impressive. When it seems as if David and John have emptied their musical arsenal, suddenly, the next track captures listeners yet again. Above all else, though, All Is Not Lost tells a beautiful story, a story of a doomed world saved by love beyond ourselves and a perfectly loving Savior.