Review: Showbread – Who Can Know It?


Come and Live (free download)

Released November 16 2010

Reviewed By Tyler Hess

When I first heard rumblings about Showbread having completely re-vamped their sound in the way of completely dropping the screams that had been so prevalent in their prior releases I had a few instant thoughts.  The first was that it wasn’t really that big of a deal, it wasn’t as if we had never heard a Showbread song without the screaming, they were just fewer and farther between.  The second was that it wasn’t a big shock because Showbread has never shied away from completely changing their sound, even at the risk of losing some listeners along the way.  Finally, I thought how curious it is that a band would release an album the year after releasing an album a year after releasing a double album.  With some bigger names we’re stoked if we can get one album out of them in that same time period, let alone four!  Yet, I had no doubt that they would be short on things to say.  Frontman Josh Dies is never short on things to say.

The first thing I noticed when listening to Showbread’s latest album is that I should have remembered that listening casually to Showbread is a mistake, which was quickly rectified by busting out my “special” headphones.  You know, the kind that cancels out noise and makes everyone in the room know that you mean business about listening to this music because normal earbuds or computer speakers just won’t do.  When listening casually, it can be easy to overlook “Who Can Know It?”, or most albums, really, but especially anything with the in depth and in your face lyricism that Dies presents with every Showbread release.  Without the screams and wailing guitars it is more important than ever to realize that this is a sit down and think about life kind of album made for curling up in bed, rather than blasting on a Summer day from your car.

“Who Can Know It?” starts off with the pounding beat of a harrowing series of tales of the worst of things that really happen in society and the contrast of God’s love of sinners and His desire to set them free.  “I Never Liked Anyone And I’m Afraid Of People” might be one of my favorite song titles of all time and features a little bit of the type of guitar work we could hear on earlier Showbread albums, but it’s imagery is rather hard to follow as sometimes Josh Dies it just a little too far out there for my brain to put it all together, especially when the music kind of drowns out his voice from time to time.  “Dear Music” changes the pace, but not the approach with a bit of a conversation between the vocalist and the art with the problems and pleasures that their association with each other has caused him, but ends with a worshipful moment about how they were both created by a wonderful God.  “Deliverance” is a bit catchier, with a plea to God to deliver us from the things that we think are so important, but are really a burden to the soul.  “The Prison Comes Undone” is a simple song among an album of simple songs, at least compared to Showbread’s discography, and seems to talk about the trouble we see as Christians in Romans chapters 5-8 (side note: read these chapters.  Seriously.  I’ll wait).

“Hydra is a thinker that I am still thinking about, so in about twelve years when I think I’ve understood it I might get back to you, but I think it has to do with Peter, but sometimes with Josh Dies lyrics you just kinda have to guesstimate or wait for an interviewer to ask the right questions.  “Myth of a Christian Nation” has a bizarre voice effect and hits on a subject that Showbread has broached online and on prior work regarding their distaste for nationalism, especially in comparison with the freedom found in Christ over the freedom found in democracy.  “You’re Like A Taxi” is really a pretty simple analogy for explaining that when we die as believers in Christ that although our bodies are done we aren’t really dead because it was just a temporary vessel for our soul, which will be in Heaven, which is why we don’t need to be afraid of death.  Pretty simple, really.  It is kinda weird to say, but “Time To Go” seems like the one song on here that would have been a Showbread ballad to contrast the thrashier songs, but here it sits in the right spot, but on a completely different kind of album.  Finally, the album finishes off with “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” and for ten tracks it feels like fifteen, with an “epic” closer that may have been overdone by now in the scene, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good one, it just means I’ve heard a few too many of them to be that thrilled with ten or twelve minute songs anymore.

When you put it all together this is both quintessentially Showbread and completely different than anything they’ve ever done all at the same time.  To call Showbread an enigma would only fall short of actually figuring them out instead of putting them in a box to where we can contain them.  Musically, there isn’t as much to jump out and grab the listener as we may have heard from them before, but lyrically it is as deep and poignant as ever.  I can’t say it is my favorite of their works, but they’ve earned my respect over the course of their career and when they speak I will listen.  If this were an introductory album to a band I probably wouldn’t give it too much thought if I didn’t have to, but they’ve done enough in the past to get them to the point where they can musically do just about anything and the lyrics will pull me in, so if they have something to say (and they do) then I guess the job has been done, hasn’t it?

Grade: B

Tracklisting:

  1. A Man With A Hammer
  2. I Never Liked Anyone And I’m Afraid Of People
  3. Dear Music
  4. Deliverance
  5. The Prison Comes Undone
  6. Hydra
  7. Myth of a Christian Nation
  8. You’re Like a Taxi
  9. Time To Go
  10. The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
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4 responses to “Review: Showbread – Who Can Know It?

  1. Brian November 16, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Awesome review man! This album sort of reminds me of The Classic Crime’s new album, because a lot of fans seem like they hated it just like this album,but for me its their best yet.

  2. David Green November 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    This was a very good review! I feel similarly about the album. One reviewer perfectly summed up my thoughts: part of me wants to give it a 9/10, but another part of me wants to give it a 6/10 (indie vision music). But overall, this is the way I feel about the album. I liked it, but I guess I thought it could have been better.

  3. Lindsey November 16, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I think that’s a fair grade, I agree with your review. Lyrics have depth and great as usual but not my favorite album by them. Good review.

  4. Chip November 19, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Review is right on the mark! I love this album! On the first listen, I made the mistake you mention above about “casually” listening to Showbread. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But I put it in again and read the lyrics and listened to the music…and I have been hooked ever since. This is a great band. They are delivering a message that God has put on their hearts and it doesnt matter if we approve it or not. Who can fault them for that. Its a refreshing attitude and one that we can all learn from. I have more respect for them now than I ever did. So many bands have become so predictable and boring to me. At least Showbread always keeps it interesting. By the way, I am one that really digs the aggressive style of Showbread past. But based on my experience, leave your pre-conceived notions behind and give this album your attention. You will be blessed by it. One last thing, Josh Dies has a song by song commentary listed on ChristianRockRocks.com

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