Eternal Friends Offer Light of Hope with Darkness Won’t Prevail
Eternal Friends, the recording project of Tim Bowen, recently released Darkness Won’t Prevail. Recorded with some pretty talented and accomplished studio musicians, this is an elegant and sophisticated Christmas EP with complex layers of harmony and soaring melodies. They put their own unique jazzy and modern twist on well-known Christmas carols, as well as including original music.
They start off with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” The track begins with gentle piano, and sleigh bells add a holiday flavor. The sincere tenor of Tim Bowen’s voice enters with the familiar lyrics a moment later. The music provides a mellow, yet solid, foundation, allowing the listener to meditate on the meaning of the lyrics; the gift of a Savior bestowing a sense of comfort and joy, a gift to last through the ages. The talented Abraham Laboriel adds a warmth to the track with rolling bass licks that blend perfectly with the rest of the band.
Next up is a mellow and jazzy take on the liturgical Christmas classic “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” Abe Laboriel Jr. starts off using brushes on the drums, adding a gentle ambience to the beginning of the song. The lilting melody also adds to the warmth. The song gradually gains energy and momentum, building to a triumphant crescendo during the third verse as Bowen sings of our Savior, the Light of lights, vanquishing the powers of hell. Andrew Synowiec adds some subtle bluesy riffs on guitar throughout the verse, and afterwards lets loose into a searing solo. After this apex of energy, the beginning of the fourth verse takes things down several notches before erupting into a spirited chorus of “Alleluias,” praising the Lord Most High.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” starts off very simply, with Tom Ranier hitting some sparse chords on the piano and Bowen’s voice ringing out. The bass and guitar offer a few riffs woven throughout, and enter full force by the second verse, along with the drums. There is once again a pause in the vocals for an impressive guitar solo from Synowiec, followed immediately by a quiet moment of gentle harmonies with vocalist Charlotte A. Pope. Bowen’s and Pope’s voices blend beautifully on the third verse. After a final rousing chorus of rejoicing, it seems as though the song is wrapping up with some exceptional bass licks from Laboriel, but the full band re-enters with some fine jazz work, the harmonies and rhythms as tight as they come.
Following this Christmas classic is the Tim Bowen original and title track, “Darkness Won’t Prevail.” Once again, this track starts with a warm and inviting piano melody, before the drums and guitar enter. The first couple of verses are a bit more mellow, the cymbals and drums dancing lightly above the rest of the band. The lead up to the bridge features a majestic French horn solo by Laura Brenes, leading the way to an anthem of praise to the one who breaks the darkness and frees us from the grave. Pope’s sweet voice is featured in the quiet moment following the stirring bridge. The song ends on a more mellow note, with the French horn wrapping things up. “Darkness Won’t Prevail” encompasses a message of hope, just as Christ was born on a dark night, into a dark and sinful world. He broke through the darkness and conquered the powers of death, bringing hope to all who accept His gift of grace.
The EP ends with “Hope Awaiting,” a captivating instrumental tune that shows off each of the talented musicians’ skills. It’s the perfect way to end this delightful EP.
Darkness Won’t Prevail is a bright spot amongst all the CCM/pop type Christmas songs you hear plentifully, and offers something a little different. With the level of talent included here, the EP will definitely turn the ear of any jazz enthusiast, and will likely attract audiences from all different musical backgrounds. In addition to the high level of musical excellence, this recording offers a message of hope, especially when it is so desperately needed. The original song, along with the other Christmas carols Bowen chose, all present the same message, the advent of a Savior into a dark world in need of saving. Indeed, with the presence of The Almighty amongst us, the darkness certainly cannot prevail.