Album Review: Companyon – (NMF #39 Winner)

Companyon is the musical project of Bryan Wehrkamp. The album was written and recorded at Wake Forrest University in North Carolina. As you press play on the tracks of this album, you’re immediately struck with a sense of investment and importance. This is not a side hobby or just a few songs for fun; Companyon is a passion project and it shows with every well-placed note and inflection.

It begins with “Get Better/Alright,” and some placid ocean waves before an intriguing multi-track vocal. The gospel connotation of the songwriting should not be lost because Companyon has some pretty clear theological and spiritual messages throughout his music. It transitions to a sort of Ben Rector style singer songwriter pop style. It would have been nice to hear the song finish out as a pure gospel track.

“Sea is for Courage” strikes me as a poetic piece with some more layered vocal. The vibe puts me in mind of Peter Hollens, the massively popular YouTuber. “People are like waves… they don’t say much at all.” The sense of shallow people and a desire more is literally something I was just thinking about this morning. “If your love is an ocean, I need to be here.” Yes, absolutely! This is the single for this album and I hope Companyon gets his just shot at moving up the charts. This is a song that’s not just “Christian radio” good. This could (and should) chart on the pop top 100. Let’s get it there!

“Step Into the Light” is a another genre-bending track that is mostly pop stylings. The song uses all sorts of imagery from a life of faith that comes through genuinely. It actually comes across like an intricate testimony. The song itself itself is about moving away for a life of darkness and into the light of God. What I like about the song is that it echoes sentiments you’ve heard in hymns and worship songs, but have never heard with this kind of electro pop style. Interesting stuff.

The following “With the End in Mind” is about ultimate things. What is life about and where are we all headed? It layers string work over electronic rhythm. The fifth track is “Israel,” using some interesting instrumentation with an homage to the Holy Land. The song’s structure is clearly one of reverance. The lyrics are prayerfully delivered over what sounds like an accordion. It’s a choice to use a perceived “Old World” instrument with a modern style.

“LVR” is not a word, so I’m not entirely sure what it means. Is it “lover” without the vowels? Is it an acronym of some cute girl he likes? Is it some sort of top secret theology joke that only people who go to seminary can get? Ah, will the mysteries of the world never cease? Anyways, the track has a syncopated beat and some electronic sample that sounds kind of like a small animal in a trap. The chorus on this song sounds like he’s singing about the most beautiful thing in the world… and he probably is.

The penultimate track “The Dragon” will get you moving. If you know about faith imagery, dragons are always bad. It’s probably sin. I almost guarantee this song is about sin. I mean it feels like a club dance song, so maybe it’s not. But it really struck me listening to this song that the whole album reminds me of listening to DCTalk’s Jesus Freak back in the day.

The last track “100K” is a pretty nice snapshot of Companyon’s overall sound. There’s a real sense of “epicness” to the way the song was written, especially with the strings. It’s basically the big climax that the whole album builds towards. It’s a story of personal transformation. If you really tune in and pay attention to the spirit of the track, you will be moved.

All told, this album shows an exciting pop-influenced artist. I would really love to see him have success with “Sea is for Courage.” It’s a piece of art that is really transformative. Consider sharing this review with the people that you’re thinking of right now. This album is a brilliant introduction to a rising, truth-speaking songwriter.

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