REVIEW: Tenth Avenue North – “Cathedrals”

We don’t really cover a lot of Christian music generally, but Tenth Avenue North have put together an album that could easily fit on a contemporary radio station. The band’s third album, “Cathedrals” may take the band out of the Christian niche, with some crossover to the mainstream.

“Cathedrals” opens with “No Man Is An Island”, which instantly sounds like a single. An inspiring start to an album, and it makes you want more right away. Throughout the album, there are spots that reminded me of a variety of bands, from Cartel to The Fray. There’s even some country influence on tracks like “Stars In The Night”, which as pop as it sounds, could find it’s way to a country station and it wouldn’t be too far out of the spectrum. However, the album comes to a screeching halt with the beautifully chanted “Iesu, Dulcis Memoria” sung by Audrey Assad. The song is meant to set up the title track, but a few seconds in, and you wonder if you’re even still listening to the same album. While it is an epic, dramatic track, I’m not sure that it needed the build-up, especially so early in the album.

“Cathedrals” is followed by the even more dramatic “I Need You, I Love You, I Want You”. The song swells from start to finish, but the album is still very somber at this point. It needs a spark, and luckily, there’s literally a song called “The Spark” that saves the album from becoming way way too somber for anyone. That shot in the arm propels the back half of the record, with the much more upbeat “Heaven’s Sound”, “Stay”, and “We Won’t Numb The Pain/Fire”. The latter of those three tracks is arguably the best song on the record, with enough energy and power to solidify the band’s sound.

The album makes the turn to bring it home with the poppy “Closer”, and closes out on a low note with “All The Earth Is Holy Ground”. While I’m not always a fan of the last song on the record being a slower song, Tenth Avenue North do it well with this song. It sounds like the encore to a live performance, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the band played this album from front to back in a set at any point.

All things considered, this is a solid album. There’s a good mix, albeit disjointed at times, of fast and slow, upbeat and sad, and it’s full of quality songwriting. “Cathedrals” has the kind of mass appeal that can propel a band, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Tenth Avenue North in the mainstream if radio takes to a single. Check out the album below: