John McKivergan - 'Empty'
Review by Abby Kenna
“Empty” by John McKivergan is a celebratory, joyous song, filled with driving drums and an expressive string arrangement. Though spirited in its vivid instrumentals, “Empty” portrays a powerful message through its lyrics and emotive tone. The song is sung by vocalist, Josiah.
A single rhythmic string line and sparse drumbeat introduce “Empty” with masterful prosody, creating a pointedly spacious and tense atmosphere before an exuberant array of instruments fill the soundscape. Moving into the verse, the resonant guitars and drums pull back, allowing the significance of the lyrics to be accentuated. Singer Josiah delivers a story about Jesus’ resurrection with vulnerability and gratefulness as he sings:
“Your silent defense made a deafening sound.”
Above the instrumentals, the string line moves with grace amongst the vocal line, creating the sense of a conversation between Josiah and the sweeping strings. Contrasting the bright string melody, Josiah's voice delivers his grateful message beautifully, with a rich tone that grounds the lyrics.
The pre-chorus begins to build and intensify until flourishing instrumentals boost us into the chorus. An electric guitar fills the track with warmth, buzzing with just enough distortion to contrast the sweetness of the string arrangement and add an extra layer of texture. Paired with a vividly joyous track, the descriptive imagery within the chorus allows the the audience to fully experience the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection:
“Being nailed to a cross supposedly your end But they found your tomb empty instead”
This juxtaposition emphasizes the duality of the song, celebrating Jesus’ resurrection while remaining humbly grateful for His sacrifices.
On the brink of the final chorus, the instrumentals pull back and Josiah deliver an intimate variation on the chorus. Singing an octave down and accompanied by only a grand piano and the strings, this vulnerable breakdown launches us into one last celebratory chorus.
For more information, please visit N1M.
About John McKivergan
John McKivergan is a writer of Christian and faith based lyrics for Christian Rock and Contemporary Christian music. As a songwriter, John collaborates with studio musicians, vocalists, and producers to bring his writing to life. His songs are published and distributed on music websites, internet radio and social media.