“The heart is like Pandora’s box, with just a crack it’s opened up to beat anew when all is lost, to run, crawl, come home…”
—from HEART, “Here & There”
You’ve seen the image in a hundred different places: Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, the perfectly proportional specimen of mankind, his arms outstretched in both a circle—symbol of the divine—and a square—representing the physical world. Philosophers, theologians and scholars have long devoured Da Vinci’s copious notes—along with those of Vitruvius, the architect on whose ideas Da Vinci built his drawing—to unpack the measure of a man and what it means to be fully human.
For Christians, the question requires a more crystallized focus: what does it mean to be fully human in light of what Christ—the only human to literally square the circle—has done?
Set for release on September 3, Juno Award-winning band The City Harmonic reveals its eagerly anticipated, full-length sophomore release, HEART, a full-circle progression of its critically acclaimed debut, I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home). This album—underscored by the cinematic and communal aesthetic so prominent in all The City Harmonic’s music—shifts from the dream of what could and should be to the complexities of how fragile, broken humans follow the true humanity of Christ’s example in the world.
It makes imperfect sense that these young men—vocalist/songwriter and pianist Elias Dummer, bassist Eric Fusilier, guitarist Aaron Powell and drummer Josh Vanderlaan—would look inward for this effort. After all, in the past two years, life has hit them square on. They went from working day jobs to recording and touring full time. Aaron had his first child. Josh got married. Elias had his fourth child. And on top of all the usual struggles that might accompany such huge life changes, Eric was diagnosed with cancer. In a sense, life set the context for them.
“With all this sort of ‘real life’ stuff going on, we set out to write an album ‘on being, and becoming, human,’” Elias explains. “But in a way it’s about image bearing. By that I mean that yes, we’re human… and the Bible tells us that we’re made in the image of God and each and every human has an inherited dignity as a result. But there’s more to it than that … God made this universe around us and often refers to the cosmos as a temple. I mean f you stop and think about the role an ‘image’ or ‘statue’ might play in a temple, you begin to see that we humans have quite a role to play. Whatever our present circumstances, the biggest challenge before us is to recognize that in Christ we’ve been given the responsibility and capacity to become like Him in a way, and as we do, we are becoming exactly the kind of humans we were meant to be from the beginning.”
Co-produced by The City Harmonic and Jared Fox, HEART begins where I Have A Dream’s “Holy Wedding Day” ends, with “Here & There,” a sweeping, theatrical metaphor for the entire album. “Here I am, a finite being, juxtaposed against the eternality of Christ, who talks about living in our dying,” Elias says, “and here we are dying everyday, a little further along than the day before…Whatever comes, we are not called to a life free from suffering, we are called to something bigger than ourselves. We are called to Christ.”
“Discipleship isn’t simply adding knowledge to our lives,” Elias adds, “but it’s to become increasingly more like the human example we’ve been given – to become ‘little Christs,’ and carry our cross through the mud and mire of a broken world in the knowledge that by the grace of God we arise brand new.”
For Eric, HEART represents something bigger than just another album. Something much bigger. “It’s always been a dream of mine to be in a band, to write/say something that matters to people in a spiritual sense,” he says. “But this time it was hugely important to me to get it right; to express the raw, gutteral frustration, pain and suffering I’ve experienced, and that people around the globe have experienced even more than me, and to give some kind of hope in the midst of it. I love that it’s called HEART and that it celebrates the joys and sorrows of life. It’s exactly what we needed to write… a beautiful, raw expression of life.”
For more information, visit www.thecityharmonic.com.