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Big Daddy Weave entered the studio for the fifth time in their decade long career with a singular mission – to create a collection of songs that might somehow communicate the word placed on their hearts to the hearts of those who hear it. It might have been easier to simply try to recreate the success of their previous hit songs, such as "Every Time I Breathe" or "Audience of One." Instead, the band set out to craft the most ambitious and varied album of their career by doing what they've been doing all along – refusing to compromise while stretching the artistic boundaries of what a Big Daddy Weave record is supposed to sound like.
When asked to describe their fifth album, What Life Would Be Like, guitarist/singer/songwriter Mike Weaver characterized it as being "all about expectations."
"We all grew up in church," Mike explains. "That is awesome, and I'm thankful for it, but there is also some baggage that comes with that. We grew up hearing people talk about grace, but there seemed to be an unspoken law that said, â but you also have to do this, this, this, this, and this.' Nobody ever said it out loud, but I saw how people who didn't do â this, this, this, this, and this' were treated. Now truly, you will know a tree by its fruit, but that's not grace. With What Life Would Be Like we are ripping up our old expectations to get to a place where we can receive the heart of God."
That ripping up process started during the latter part of 2006 with the release of their highly acclaimed project, Every Time I Breathe, continued through their hectic touring schedule on the Broken and Beautiful Tour with Mark Schultz, and culminated with their recent trip to impoverished villages in Ecuador where they saw first hand the impact of their association with relief organization, World Vision.
"God used that trip to re-ignite the fire in us as a group," Mike says. "We haven't been the same since we got back. There is a passion that hasn't been there before, and we know we will never see the potential unleashed as long as we hang on to our old ideas of what life and ministry and being the church is, rather than letting God just come and â be' in us. It's kind of like somebody put resuscitator paddles on our hearts. I think the Lord really broke our hearts over who He loves, and that's everybody."
After enduring a proverbial â dark night of the soul' during the first half 2006, when Mike says trying to write a song was like pulling eye teeth, the Dove-nominated band began to experience unprecedented creativity. "We've been doing this for ten years, and it would be really easy for it to get old and stale," Mike declares. "But it was like a revival was going on in us. Last time the songs came out of the driest place ever. This time it was so much fun! I have written more songs than I have written in my life."
While Every Time I Breathe encouraged people to view every moment as a chance to live in response to the greatness of God, What Life Would Be Like celebrates that response.
"Sometimes I think we put the cart before the horse," Mike muses. "We want to see folks act like they're changed, maybe even before God does the changing. But if a tree is healthy, fruit just grows naturally. It's not a forced endeavor, but it doesn't happen all at once. It's a life long process. God is as much concerned with every step of the journey as He is with the destination. These songs were born out of seeing just how badly we still need Jesus. What Life Would Be Like is a call to me and to everyone else who is sick and tired of same-old-same-old, to learn how to let Jesus live through us."
It is that revelation, combined with the heightened amount of collaboration on the new songs, that makes What Life Would Be Like the climactic culmination of Big Daddy Weave's first decade together.
"You Found Me," the opening track, is a splendid overreaching metaphor for the sonic scope of What Life Would Be Like. The song begins with Big Daddy Weave's trademark goodtime guitars embellishing Mike Weaver's breathy vocals layered over a bed of thumping drums and driving bass. The tune segues seamlessly into the soul-stirring title track with its subdued synthesizers and chiming guitars. While "What Life Would Be Like" is unmistakably Big Daddy Weave, the song unexpectedly veers into emotionally-charged lyrical territory. Co-written by Waterdeep's Don Chaffer, the song explores our expectations of holiness and grace, and the chasm that seems to exist between those two theological concepts.
It is these types of aural experiments that lift What Life Would Be Like to dazzling new heights, whether it's their impassioned cover of the Phil Collins' classic, "Another Day In Paradise," or the carefree, summertime waltz, "Blue Skies."
While subtle lyrical details paint vivid mental pictures in the minds of the listener, ultimately it is the characters that are the souls of these songs. There is the parent who has gone on before encouraging their child in the poignant, "From Here." There is the repentant husband who has just finished fighting with his wife in the confessional, "Right With You." There is the man with the calloused heart, passing by the least of these with less than a twinge of conscience in the aforementioned "Another Day In Paradise."
With What Life Would Be Like Big Daddy Weave has taken a giant step forward both creatively and conceptually. While it hasn't been an easy road to get to this point, the guys insist this next chapter in the band's evolution has drawn them closer than ever.
Big Daddy Weave is:
Mike - Songwriter/Lead Vocals/Guitar
Jeff - Drums
Jay - Bass/Vocals
Joe - Saxophone/Keyboards
Jeremy - Guitars/Vocals