With its first two albums Tenth Avenue North managed to fuse truth and music in a potent blend that left listeners engaged, entertained and inspired. The band does so yet again on its third Reunion Records album The Struggle, a 12-song collection that explores the themes of grace, forgiveness and redemption through thought-provoking lyrics anchored in an adventurous sonic landscape.
The band’s recent history is pretty impressive. Since its 2008 debut album, Over and Underneath, Tenth Avenue North has become one of Christian music industry’s most successful acts, saturating Christian radio with such memorable songs as “Love is Here,” “Hold My Heart,” and “By Your Side,” a number one single that was Billboard magazine’s No. 3 overall Christian song for the decade. They won New Artist of the Year in 2009 at the 40th Annual GMA Dove Awards and in 2010 “By Your Side” was named Song of the Year.
The band’s 2010 sophomore album, The Light Meets the Dark, debuted at No. 1 on the Nielsen Christian SoundScan chart and No. 15 on the Billboard 200. The album hit the No.1 Christian Album chart position at both iTunes and AmazonMP3, reaching Top 5 on iTunes’ Overall chart, propelled by the lead single, “Healing Begins.” The compelling ballad “You Are More” was 2011’s No. 1 Song of the Year on Billboard’s Christian Audience Chart.
As the band approached its third album, it would have been easy to take an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude, but the word complacency is not in its vocabulary. Band members Mike Donehey (lead vocals), Jeff Owen (guitars), Jason Jamison (drums), Ruben Juarez (bass) and Brendon Shirley (keyboard) took a totally different approach in how they wrote and recorded The Struggle. Instead of waiting until they got home to Nashville to begin recording demos, the songs were written and demoed on the road while the band was on tour.
“We wrote ‘Don’t Stop The Madness’ in January of 2011,” Owen says of the confessional anthem. “That’s when we first started writing as a band and we were recording demos as we were writing. On the last two records, Mike would write most of the songs with Jason, or on his own. He would show up and the song would have lyrics and melody and acoustic guitar, and then we’d take that and make it our own. We’d put a beat to it and shake it, but this time we started basically from scratch.”
Recording on the road led to some interesting sessions. “When we recorded, ‘Where Life Will Never Die,’ there was an amp in our bathroom,” Jamison says with a smile.
“Sometimes there were things on the demo that we couldn’t replicate in the studio,” Donehey adds, “so we ended up finding the files from the demo and putting them on it. We recorded drums in the front of the bus at one time. They sounded amazing.”
The Struggle is also the first album to include the two newest members of Tenth Avenue North-- Ruben Juarez and Brendon Shirley.
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