by Sam Robinson
Seattle band Pacific Gold (formerly Wayfarer) will next week release their debut album Sing My Welcome Home. It’s an inventive record that shows off the band’s passion for dusting off old hymns and injecting them with a new sound, and one that isn’t particularly destined for a Sunday service setting.
Sing My Welcome Home is filled with an under-produced lo-fi sound, and if anything marks out the overall sound of the album, it’s its unpredictability. Hitting play on this album is like boarding a roller coaster – twists and turns abound and its an extremely enjoyable ride. Similar to BadChristian labelmates Kings Kaleidoscope, Pacific Gold have an experimental flavour to their music, although the music here is remarkably more chill and indie in sound.
The album opens with one such laid-back track, A Day is Coming, a song that points toward the day when Jesus returns. The song features some sweet whistling, syncopated drum beats and smooth female backing vocals. Already from the outset, Pacific Gold are producing an indie sound like I’ve never heard from any other Christian act.
Gone to the Grave is both joyful and melancholy at the same time. Over jangly guitars and piano, lead singer Dan Koch softly sings about Jesus’ death: ‘The Saviour has passed through… Now heaven’s sunshine beams…’ I Will Know Him opens with surprising programmed sounds, and beautifully layered harmonies and guitar licks. The track cleverly drips summer vibes as it points to the paradise that awaits us, where we will truly know God.
Song in the Air is filled with interesting chord progressions and a real 60s/70s vibe. The words paint the nativity scene in a way we’ve never heard before:
‘There’s a song in the air, there’s a star in the sky
There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a baby’s low cry
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing.’
With a rolling waltz rhythm, it evolves into a twisted circus sound. Spirit of God is one of many moments on this album that sounds lifted from a Fleet Foxes record, calm and sweet. The words invite the Spirit to change our hearts: ‘Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are. Teach me to love you as I ought to love’
But Pacific Gold show off their songwriting prowess on Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul. It’s a hymn of love toward God, and contains glorious sounds – from whirrs to ba-ba-bahs to wah-wah guitars. The song is constructed with precision, and it’s a delight to listen to.
The Sands of Time wouldn’t be out of place on a Tame Impala record, and the storytelling matches the movement of the pace and music. A theatrical moment arrives on Once I Had a Glorious View, with its layered looped vocals, strong piano and the tinkling of instruments.
Sweet Rivers of Redeeming Love was first heard on Pacific Gold’s self-titled EP. It’s a punchy song that channels The Beach Boys, and rejoices in the redemption Jesus provides.
To be honest, it took me a few listens of Sing My Welcome Home to engage in the ride. It’s a grower. Dan Koch and Pacific Gold have taken great care in the making of this album, not only in preserving the words of wonderful hymns, but matching them with stunning and surprising arrangements that are a joy to listen to. One of the best albums of 2015 has arrived. I’m giving this four stars.
Sing My Welcome Home by Pacific Gold will be released Tuesday, 24th March and can be pre-ordered here. Keep an eye out for our chat with lead singer Dan Koch about the album in the coming weeks.