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Music Review: The Ruins by The Ruins

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Updated January 28, 2019
The Ruins EP
The Ruins - "Run"

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The group's debut EP on DREAM Records will be releasing on February 1st, 2019.

It is their soul-stirring revelation of grace and redemption; their razor-sharp pop sensibilities and the generosity of two artists who know how to ebb and flow, give and take, while balancing reality with hope.

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The Ruins by The Ruins
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The Ruins are a new duo who recently signed to Dream Label Group and this is their debut EP release together. One half of The Ruins is Debra Black who has been a worship leader in her church for a number of years and founded a non-profit organisation encouraging worship in American town and city squares called "Worship On The Square". Back in 2014 she released a solo worship album called "God In Every Season" which received positive reviews, but even at that time she felt she wanted to do music away from the worship and more in the pop genre. The other half of this pair is Victor Gonzalez who was on short-term mission halfway around the world from Debra when God started showing him that people were flocking to old ruins and that despite the fact that they were crumbling and destroyed there was still a beauty in them. When sharing this experience with Debra something clicked and slowly this project fell into place.

This 6 track self-titled EP is the result of God's prompting and it hits the ground running with the track "Run". With Victor's vocals opening this up before the blend with Debra comes in after a couple of lines. This song is about life getting tough and learning that there is nowhere to turn except to God. There is a bit edgy spoken word in this track as well as a punchy and catchy chorus that will run, run, run through your head long after you've heard this track. "Only Going Up" is a strong song full of positivity that when you are at the bottom the only way is up, but this is not because of anything we have done, but because God has gone before us.

The image of breaking free is a key image within Christianity, our freedom being bought by the blood of Jesus, yet so often we still end up locked into the world's mindset, or beaten by anxiety, stress, addiction, depression, we end up restricted. "Deliverance" reminds us that we have been set free and nothing can hold us down. This track, which has Debra's dominant vocal, has a rock feeling and offers a sound similar to Superchick. The positive nature is that we aren't going to wait for someone to free us, we are already free and we are going to claim that freedom with boldness. I love this track which was originally released back in 2016 and introduced The Ruins to the world.

When we get to "Monument" we get God's message to Victor when he was away and looking at the ruins. This hard-hitting song weaves the story how we can be broken and look like ruins, but God can build us up from the ashes and make us beautiful, so that we are no longer just broken, instead we have meaning, we are monuments, we stand for God's glory. From this positive view of surviving and being built up by God we get to the very "in your face" look at the things in this world that we can end up submissive too. This is a challenge about all the things that we become slaves to without ever realising it, money, sex, drugs and other things that can control us. "Bow Down" is simply asking the question about how low we have to get before we realise that these empty promises are not the answer. "Who We Are" is about our identity as Christians, saying we know who we are because we know who God is. I love the line which says "I see them every night, reflection of your eyes, the glimmer of your love" talking about the stars, not in some new-age or mystic way.

"Who We Are" is the closest that this EP gets to worship, but each and every song contains a positive message, apart from "Bow Down" which has a challenge for us to consider. The song-writing is excellent and there is a great balance between the personal experiences with the world and our own selves holding us back and the encouragement that freedom is ours because it has already been given to us! The vocals are complimentary and both Debra and Victor swap the lead vocals around and this keeps you engaged throughout.

Debra worried about moving away from worship that she had always known because it was different there was fear. This short EP shows that she had nothing to fear, the writing is tight, the songs are catchy, the production is clear and each cut is perfect for radio. Dare I say that some of these tracks could travel beyond the boundaries of the Christian radio stations and may cross over into the secular? I hope that I am right and that these positive lyrics will be able to give someone hope and a focus beyond what they can't do and perhaps some hope that their lives can become monuments rather than just ruins!

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