Love > Fear
Plural Guild (release date: November 15, 2019)
By Bob Marovich
The Many is a multicultural vocal group based in Chicago and comprised of the talents of Darren Calhoun, Hannah Rand, and Leslie Michele. On their latest release, Love > Fear, they offer their distinctive brand of relaxed Christian pop, complete with warbling organ, tinkling electric piano, a solid rhythm section, and sugary sweet harmonies.
As on the group’s 2017 album, All Belong Here, love is the focus of this collection. In “Extravagant Love,” for example, love is abundant and changes everything. On the title track, love has the power to conquer fear. On the other hand, all God asks from us is to be loved, The Many sing on “All You Ask,” however imperfect our prayer and praise may be. Sounding for all the world like a long-lost song from the Broadway musical Godspell, “Come As You Are” extends love to the downcast in spirit.
A song suitable for Christmas, “Waiting” anticipates the Christ child as the one who will break the chains of hurt and suffering. Another song in the Christmas spirit, “Take Comfort,” confirms the message of the title track while also reassuring that “the God of love and mercy is on the way.”
If the first half of the album is a more general assessment of love, the second half is more explicitly sociopolitical. Taking its cue from Amos 5:24, a passage quoted famously by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Let Justice Rain” declares that “enough is enough, not one more.” The singers invoke a flood of mercy to flow through our hearts and into places where there has been tragedy, such as school shootings and other forms of gun violence. A spoken word litany of the names of those killed by gun violence could easily have accompanied this track.
The elegiac “Remember When” evokes such twenty-first century ills as immigrant children torn from their parents, shots fired, cities burning. “Tear Down the Walls” reintroduces the theme of love and understanding from the first half by using a politically-charged and relevant metaphor, a wall, as a call for unity. After all, the walls we need to tear down, The Many sings, are those we have erected ourselves. “Beyond Belief” is a concluding note of gratitude for God’s goodness throughout troubled times.
Love > Fear is full of authentic hopes and wishes sung by an earnest group that doffs all form and fashion to express their (and our) desires for a better world.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Let Justice Rain,” “Remember When”