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Year of Holidays - Click to view!There is something awfully gratifying about finding a great indie band. It's like having a priceless diamond in your back pocket, and no one knows about it. Like you've been given some "privileged information." One of my favorite "diamonds" would have to be the band known as Radiant* (the asterisk is part of the name). Radiant* has been playing the Dallas area for a only few years, but they already possess intricacies that are rare, even for seasoned artists. Their first full-length album goes by the name Year of Holidays. Though the precepts are common (redemption, joy, letting God have His way with us), positively inspired lyrics make the sentiments fresh and captivating. Front man/lyricist Levi Smith is by far one of the best songwriters in music today, signed or otherwise. None of that "I can't find the words" nonsense for this band, thank you very much. Lyrics alone do not a great song make though, and so the rest of the band does a smashing job of devising melodies that fit the lyrics like a glove. Much distortion, a good load of acoustics, and many effects give this album a technical splendor as well.

"Waiting" starts the album with inventive rhythms courtesy of drummer Daniel Hopkins, and dream-like keys from Jon Schoemaker. After a few opening riffs, Levi starts singing with his European-sounding voice- "Oh, that patience would abound / In the waiting of my heart / For the promises I've found / And the fire set apart." "Red as a Rose" follows, and fans agree that this is one of the best songs in Radiant*'s repertoire. Telling the tale of Christ purchasing our forgiveness, the crowd often joins in singing this song about the joy of redemption. Dragan Jakovljevic's wailing guitar in the bridge is just breathtaking. "Beauty for Ashes" is one of the shortest and most profound tunes on the whole album. Only 9 lines long, it explores the relationship we have with our giving Father- "It's beauty for ashes / Filthy rags for righteousness / Beautiful Savior / Make my heart to be yours." Fading into an inescapable realm of praise, this is the song you'll find yourself humming as you go through the day. The title track is a deliriously gleeful tune that echoes with sounds of the Psalmist David. "My heart leaps in the sunlight there / More valuable than gold, I missed you / Who can be more fortunate than I / My wealth has been restored… This is a year of holidays." "Overcome" drips of hope, and determination to see God's plan come to pass- "There is one thing I know / The Author will finish me… I turn all of my love to you / For what you have brought me through / I'm free!" If you allow yourself to really get into the happy melody of this song, don't be surprised if you find yourself laughing and dancing. "Undercover" is a timid, almost sad song about the way God asks us to be set apart from the world- "This light I can see / But can anyone else? / Hidden among fear / Unwilling to be strange / Alienated by my own beliefs / Set apart to be something / Should I speak?" Who has not had times in their life when they found themselves "unwilling to be strange?" The honesty in this song is so wonderful.

There is such fluidity to this album. All tempos, concepts, feelings all seem to flow together to make a single, continuous thought. The talent and artistry in this band is enough to restore one's hope in the future of Christian music. Three cheers for Radiant*, and let's pray that they continue to put out albums like Year of Holidays!
- Melissa Miles
February 2003
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