When Daniel’s Window stepped into the studio for its latest batch of material, there was an especially potent aura of excitement, energy and anticipation in the air. With seven years under its belt touring over 120 dates a year and sharing stages with the likes of Third Day, Steven Curtis Chapman, Skillet, Salvador and Rebecca St. James, the quintet runs like clockwork when it comes to creativity and continues to raise the artistic bar with each endeavor. But even with a steady stream of die-hard supporters, regular spots with Acquire the Fire, Youth Encounter and Youth Specialties events, plus two critically acclaimed projects (1999’s It’s a Mystery and 2003’s Illuminate) members admit there was also a strange sentiment surrounding the sessions.
“From the last record to this record, we’ve seen and done so much and have grown in so many ways that it’s almost surprising when you look back and add it all up,” shares Caleb King, the band’s keyboardist and DJ. “Being on the road for the better part of the year really inspires you creatively and spiritually. The situations you encounter can refine you personally, yet there’s this curious feeling that’s crept in as a result of our musical maturity. Where does this project fit into the scope of the last two? Are we getting the issues across that are on our hearts with depth but also in a way that listeners can relate? Will the shifting of sounds satisfy those who’ve stuck with us from the beginning and how will new listeners react?”
King’s questions are an enigma of sorts that can only unravel in time, but once listeners explore Strangely Looking Forward as a completed and cohesive body of work, all band members’ apprehensions are likely to subside. These straight up rock and rollers (who add a hint of hip-hop) are pushing boundaries beyond where members ever traveled before and have ended up with their most ambitious effort to date. In doing so, they’re taking the topical analysis to the next level, giving fans more to sink their teeth into and opening the doors wider for those who’ve yet to jump on board.
“It’s always been vital for us to really present who we are as people in our music,” continues front woman Heather King . “We’re not afraid to talk about the issues we’re facing, the points we’re at in our walks as believers and the thankfulness we have for the blessings given to us.”
Along with guitarist Alby Odum, bassist Bill Coleman and drummer Jesse Burkhead, the disc is packed tightly with ten tunes that center around a theme of Christ’s omnipotent presence and how He’s the ultimate source of solace through life’s many uncertainties and insecurities. Each lyric is crafted from a deeply personal perspective that also incorporates a very vertical mindset sure to take one’s thoughts beyond this life’s cares and up towards the eternal.
Case in point comes with cuts like the prodigal son themed “Such a Long Time” and the rejuvenating “Tidal Wave,” both of which combine the group’s hard hitting alternative attitude with slightly urban undertones. The aggression level continues on the historic hymn “Solid Rock,” the prayerful “I Worship You” and the celebratory “You Reign.” To summarize all the entrancing ebbs and flows, the tender ballad “I Will Live For You” rounds out the record, calling all to truly take up their cross and walk with Christ on a daily basis.
Joining Daniel’s Window is acclaimed producer Billy Smiley (of Whiteheart fame), mixer Billy Whittington (Jessica Simpson, Brian McKnight) and mastering by Grammy Award winner Richard Dodd (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, George Harrison, Johnny Cash). Such a key list of collaborators came courtesy of Cross Driven Records, who signed the band after hearing a steady stream of industry buzz and seeing its dynamic stage show. That burgeoning label is distributed through the colossal Provident system, ensuring prominent placement in stores all across the country.
“They understand our ministry and wanted to partner with us to further that,” Caleb shares of the Cross Driven connection. “We value their resources and support.”
If there’s any underlying element that can be derived from Strangely Looking Forward, it’s members’ fervent commitment to the faith and unwavering stance when it comes to spreading the Gospel everywhere they go. Beyond trying to cash in on a craze or keep up on the current fads, Daniel’s Window seeks to excel with originality and an honorable commitment to spirituality.
“Nothing this band’s put out has ever been contrived and I think that lends a certain authenticity and credibility to what we’re doing,” concludes Heather. “It also keeps us accountable to those that have stuck with us over the years and keeps things interesting. It makes them wonder what’s going to happen next and leaves us always- though sometimes strangely- looking forward.”