Review: Ghosts Upon the Earth

Grammy nominated, Denver-based Christian band Gungor’s newest album, Ghosts Upon The Earth, employs the lush sounds of Sigur Ros and Jonsi, the quirky instrumentation of Sufjan Stevens, and the close male-female harmonies of The Swell Season.

Ghosts is a joyful, soaring romp through the Bible. It begins with “Let There Be,” a liturgical tribute to the creation of the world. The vocals transition from a quiet opening to the stunning, orchestral refrain, “Where there is darkness, let there be light/ Where there is nothing, let there be light.” On his blog, Michael Gungor writes, “If there’s ever a time to get a bit indulgent with ‘yeah, add another track,’ we felt the creation of the universe was the time to do it.”

Musically and thematically, the songs flow seamlessly into each other. The album progresses from creation and the celebration of the earth to the fourth track, the sparsely instrumented “The Fall.” The lament for humanity contains the album title in the line, “We walk like ghosts upon the earth/ The ground, it groans.”

The song lyrics are often directly from Scripture. “Ezekiel” recounts Ezekiel 16, a passage that symbolizes Israel as God’s unfaithful bride. “Wake Up Sleeper” is a reference to the quotation in Ephesians 5:14, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (ESV). And the lyrics in the love song “Vous Etes Mon Coure” echo the romance of Song of Songs.

The album closes with “Every Breath,” a quiet devotional that begins to swell at the refrain, “Here I am Lord/ I am yours,” and builds to include a boys’ choir, breaking one last time into pure bliss.