His Name Is Alive sort of took a leap and entered Phase Two with the album _Stars on E.S.P._ Departing significantly from the atmospheric This Mortal Coil-like abstractions of early albums as well as the brash fusion of the previous album _Mouth By Mouth_, the main influence here seems to be Oldies, Motown, and folk spirituals, albeit mutated in their own inimitable way into something uniquely His Name Is Alive. "This World Is Not My Home/I Can't Live in This World Anymore," what sounds like a black spiritual, is a refrain and a theme on this album, appearing in different forms on three different songs. "Universal Frequencies" is basically a remake/remix of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations." Echoes of the past can still be heard in songs like "What Are You Wearing Tomorrow" and "The Sand That Holds The Lakes In Place," however. I didn't understand or particularly care for this new sound at all at first, but it's grown on me quite a lot, and I can now confidently say that I consider this album utterly brilliant-one of my favorites. It all fits into their greater ethos of rootsy, earthy sounds that are emotionally evocative, sometimes chillingly so. The music seems to vibrate in time with the life in one's very bones, a panorama of aching time and humanness. This is the sound of AM Radio, the Great Lakes, summer creeping into fall, a lone guitar plugged into an amp in a wooden room in an old house somewhere in Ypsilanti. The whole thing is not what you'd call "immediate," though. A lot of strange sounds and weirdness creeping out from unexpected nooks are to be found, as is standard fare with His Name Is Alive. It may take you quite a few listens to fully appreciate, but once you do you just might understand life a little better.
The tacked-on _Nice Day_ e.p. is similar to _Stars on E.S.P._, but with more straightforward soul-rock tunes. It's a lot simpler, and for that the subtleties are bit tougher to dig out. These two fit together nicely; I bought them separately, as that was how I found them when they were released, and I've always wanted to put the two CDs onto a changer and hit `shuffle', except I don't have one. So, great value, for a mind-altering, soul-shifting experience.