Go ahead. Right there in the white space. (This is a highly interactive bio.) Now, fill it with ink or pencil lead or whatever you’ve got handy. Go on. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re just making a point. Excellent.
“Today is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed,” theologian and scholar Frederick Buechner writes in Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary. “If you were aware of how precious it is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.”
For The Swift—the critically-acclaimed pop/rock foursome that brought the words “original” and “piano-driven” back to Christian music—the amazing race of the past two years has certainly made a definitive point. And it is this: Whatever happened yesterday is history. Today is where everything begins, so open your eyes and live it 100%. This is the point of Today, The Swift’s infectiously profound, passion-driven second release on Flicker Records, a sonic ‘”kick in the pants” that you’ll remember long after the CD stops spinning.
Ahhh, but with all the drawing interaction and the compelling Buechner quote, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s make sure we cover the basics for those of you who might have missed The Swift before Today.
Formed in North Carolina in 1998, The Swift began as a youth camp/retreat “come and play when you can” worship band fronted by piano-man Britt Edwards. Soon Britt was joined by guitarist Chris Byers, drummer and college pal Trae Drose, and bassist/vocalist Mike Simons. And the more they played together, the more they were asked to play, the more they needed original music, the more time they spent on the road. And well, you get the picture.
By early 2002, The Swift had signed with Flicker Records, and later that year released their self-titled debut, which garnered a Top 10 CHR single “Under the Sun” and the AC single “More Than Gold.” A DVD of top-notch music videos soon followed, as The Swift picked up touring dates with the meteoric MercyMe. All the while, this ministry-focused band continued playing and leading worship for more than 40 weekends each year for student events like Planet Wisdom and this summer’s “Life 2004: The Journey” in Phoenix, Ariz., where The Swift will play nightly before an estimated crowd of 10,000.
“Our focus has always been in ministry,” lead singer Edwards, 27, says, “because that’s how this whole thing started. We never want to lose sight of the Gospel or that calling to be salt and light, in the Church and outside it.”
The professional sprint of the last few years has found The Swift digging deeper, musically and lyrically, for more accessible songs that will speak to a broader audience.
The hearty result is Today, the band’s most compelling, most well-rounded project to date.
And now, with formidable guitarist Justin Sharbono taking over for the exiting Chris Byers, The Swift is even more intent on making an impact.
“This whole past year, learning how we communicate together and being with uncompromising examples like MercyMe, we’ve grown so much,” says Simons, 22. “It’s not music for music’s sake or how cool you can be as a band. It’s about how many people you can reach. When you get that point, you want to make sure everything is completely accessible and intentional. It’s all about the gospel because that’s who we are and that’s what we care most about.”
Produced by Jason Burkum and Nathan Dantzler (Audio Adrenaline, Tree63), Today dawns with much of the same carefree, lighthearted fun audiences have come to expect from The Swift. And yet, there’s an overarching maturity that echoes in the 11 songs here, a spiritual insight that comes with weathering a few rough spots in the road.
“We are really excited about where we are right now, with our music and in our ministry,” says Trae Drose, 25. “Today is the culmination of the last two years. It’s amazing to listen and realize how much God has brought us through to get where we are today.”
Where they are, lyrically and musically, is as original and fresh as anything on the airwaves. Sure, The Swift is often compared to the likes of Maroon5, Ben Folds Five, Billy Joel or some fusion thereof, but Today proves this band is capable of more than strong hooks and memorable piano-driven melodies.
From the beautiful orchestrated strains that lead into the aggressive worship anthem “You Burn” to the 70s horn-laden groove of “Today” to the infectious, raucous whimsy of “Trumpet Song,” The Swift expands beyond the expected to create a sonic wave as wide as the horizon. And riding on that wave is the foundational truth of which they sing.
“Every single one of these songs I think speaks of God’s nature and how he loves,” Edwards explains. “‘You Burn’ talks about how the Lord’s love pursues us like fire and consumes everything in its path. ‘Unbelievable’ focuses on how overwhelming his love is. ‘I Need You’ talks about the healing nature of God’s love in the lowest point of a believer’s life. ‘Now That You’ve Found Me’ is written from the perspective of a new believer, wanting to grow….”
Most of all, the band agrees, the songs of Today speak of real life ups and downs and how God’s unfathomable love washes through all of our days, growing our faith and making each day a brand new starting point for all that is to come. “Today is the day,” Simons adds, enthusiastically. “It’s always the day. To start fresh, to dedicate yourself to God, to grow, to seek, to discover the bigger picture. To live every moment.”