Friday, October 28, 2016

THERE GO MY DREAMS



Growing up in Cochrane, Ontario, Faith Grace released her debut faith based album FREE, as a Kitchener, Ontario resident.  That album had genuine artistry written all over it!  Now some three years later, this mother of two is back with her second recording, a mainstream album that was ten months in the making.  THERE GO MY DREAMS (2016) was produced, mixed, and mastered by Brad Dugas.  The players on this album are: Faith Grace (vocals, keys, melodica, accordion, cowbell), Dan Grace (electric guitars, acoustic guitars, mandolin, drums, background vocals), Brad Dugas (acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass), and Trevor Martin (keys).

Starting things off is ‘Lovely’, a bouncy, upbeat love song: “I’ve decided that you are lovely in every single way/And if you would just hold me, I’d feel happy every day/If you ever go away/I just don’t know what I would do/I’d be lost if I lost you/And if you turn and leave this place/Leaving only memories of your face/I’ve decided that you are lovely in every single way”.  ‘Let it Rest’ is an adult contemporary ballad of encouragement: “I’ll walk with you sister, I got you my brother/You’re gonna be okay/But you know what’s in your heart is gonna take some time to make itself right/It’s gonna take some time/It’s gonna take some loving/It’s gonna need some grace/If you just let go, let it go, let it go/If you could just let go, let it go, let it rest”.  ‘Can’t Sleep’ begins with these very relatable lyrics: “Sometimes the troubles of this life get me down, yeah, they can drag me down so low/They can blind my eyes till I can’t see the light that I know wants to light up my soul/And I don’t sleep at night/I don’t sleep so well, sometimes/I lie awake till the daylight breaks”.

This brings us to the title track, ‘There Go My Dreams’, a breezy pop song of loss: “How did that happen?/Thought I paid attention/My life was goin’ on just fine/But you threw me that curveball while I wasn’t watchin’/I’ve never been a good catcher so I lost/And there go my dreams/There goes my future/Everything I loved, back at square one, oh/Well, I just blinked and looked away/I just blinked and they slipped away from me”.  ‘I Come Running’ is a heartfelt song of devotion to one’s partner: “Don’t close the curtain on us/No baby, don’t close the curtain just yet/Baby, I’d come runnin’ into your arms/Whenever you might call/I’d drop everything for you love, any time at all/Well, the show is not over for us”.

‘Believing’ is remarkably the only song out of eleven that Faith did not write!  It was written by Tami Hinesh, Emily Shackelton, and Kate York.  Fans of the TV show ‘Nashville’ will be familiar with the song.  This country influenced ballad is one of gratitude: “When I get the feeling that my prayers have hit the ceiling/And those darker days when my faith has lost all meaning/You keep me believing/My fears are safe here held in your hands/When I’m broken you put me back together again/All that I once was, all I could be/When I’ve forgotten/Baby, you remind me”.  ‘Crashes On’ is a beautiful, poetic song about being a faithful partner in life: “You say we have a future/You say you can hold me closer/That you can be my healer, free my fears, forgive my faults/But my heart drifts away/On oceans deep it sets sail/On rolling waves it bounces round, stumbles and gets lost/But your light is always true/It stays the storms, it breaks through/Your love is the rock my heart always crashes on/Oh, your love is the rock my heart always crashes on”.

‘When I Run’ is sparse instrumentally and is like a modern day Psalm lyrically: “Even when I run, even if I hide/Every time the daylight turns into the night/Darkness tries to tempt me, covered in its shadows, covers me in lies, lies, in lies, lies/You’re always looking for me wherever I might run/You’ll always come and find me/Whenever I’m alone, I’m not alone/Because of you”.  ‘I Don’t Want You’ is a somber masterpiece both lyrically and musically: “I don’t wanna see another happy couple/I don’t wanna be on the outside of anything/I don’t even care if you’re happy with her/I’d rather just walk on my own way than feel anything at all/If I’m telling the truth/If I can’t have all of you/Then I don’t want you at all/If I’m telling the truth/If I can’t have all of you/Then I don’t want you at all”.

‘Overflow’ is a lovely duet with husband Dan Grace: “What happens to a heart that loves more than one body can hold?/What good things can come if you don’t hold it in but let love overflow?”  Last up is ‘Strong’, an adult pop song of a warrior: “I’ve been battlin’ demons, getting shot down by grief/Trippin’ up, fallin’ out/Givin’ up and rising on my feet/And I love who I see now/Because that reflection is strong”.

Much like fellow artists who have gone before her, such as Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, and Switchfoot, Faith Grace isn’t content living in a Christian bubble.  In fact, she says: “This is not a Christian album, not intentionally not, but I’m not targeting the church crowd audience this time around.  But it’s not NOT a Christian album.  It’s just not about Jesus.  It’s about life”.  With THERE GO MY DREAMS, Faith has hit a home run!  These songs are intimate, emotional, honest reflections on romantic relationships.  The words she uses to convey her feelings are well chosen.  Listening to this album, one feels as if they are holding Faith’s heart in his/her hands.  Faith’s lyrics display a great degree of vulnerability.  She is an exciting, personable, young lady who deserves a record deal!  Musically, the album is light adult pop and adult contemporary in nature.  Her vocals and the instrumentation are just beautiful.  They bring the listener a calm warmth, so lacking in our world today.  My only suggestion would be for her to next time include a couple faster paced songs for variety.  I’m rating THERE GO MY DREAMS 90%.  The pics of Faith included with this project are simply beautiful.  For more info visit www.facebook.com/faithgracemusic or purchase the album on iTunes.  Faith will be holding a CD release party on Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 at Rhapsody Barrel Bar at 179 King St. West in Kitchener, Ontario at 7pm.

Monday, October 24, 2016

THE ELEVENTH HOUR



The roots of the band Jars of Clay can be traced back to Greenville College in Illinois.  They released their self-titled debut album in 1995.  It included the single ‘Flood’, which was a hit, peaking at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #12 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart.  In 2002 Jars of Clay released their fourth full length project, THE ELEVENTH HOUR (Essential).  It was their third consecutive album to win the Grammy for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.  It also won Best Modern Rock Album at the 2003 Dove Awards and peaked at #28 on the Billboard 200.  All of the songs were written by group members Dan Haseltine, Charlie Lowell, Stephen Mason, and Matt Odmark.  The album was produced by Jars of Clay and executive produced by Robert Beeson.

First up is ‘Disappear’, a terrific pop love song: “I watch you smile, you steal the show/You take a bow, the curtain falls in front of you/You’re magical, on display/I gaze into your eyes and you turn to look the other way/But I’d really love to know, I’d really love to climb my way into your heart and see what I could find/I’d walk into your skin, swim through your veins/See it from your eyes/Cause I’d really love to try, yeah”.  John Catchings plays cello on ‘Something Beautiful’, which cries out to God: “Do You see it on my face/That all that I can think about is how long I’ve been waiting to feel You move me?/Close my eyes and hold my heart/Cover me and make me beautiful/Change this something normal into something beautiful”.  ‘Revolution’ is a fun, contagious rock song: “The time is right to cross that line, to let love find a way/If you know the words then try to sing along/And when you get the beat, grab a hammer, bang a gong/Cause you don’t gotta fight or make yourself belong to be a revolution”.

Anyone who has ever lost a loved one will appreciate these lyrics from ‘Fly’: “I saw the host of silent angels waiting on their own/Knowing that all the promises of faith come alive when you see home/Hold still and let your hand melt into mine/And I’ll fly with you through the night so you know/I’m not letting go (2X)”.  The album’s first single ‘I Need You’ is a warm pop song of innocence: “You are the shelter from the rain and the rain to wash me away/I need You (6X)/You’re all I’m living for”.

‘Silence’ is appropriately a quiet song.  It reminds us that the Christian life is not always easy: “Where are You? (2X)/Did You leave me unbreakable?/Leave me frozen?/I’ve never felt so cold/I thought You were silent/I thought You left me for the wreckage and the waste/On an empty beach of faith/Was it true?”  ‘Scarlet’ features guest vocals by Fleming Painter and is poetic: “For love I have scaled the face of these kingdom walls/So let down your hair, let our kiss make fools of them all/And this old scarlet letter won’t keep me from holding you/And there is nothing you can do/Nothing you do”.

Next up is a great rock song, ‘Whatever She Wants’.  It warns about the type of woman not to get involved with: “All her wants to fill a need/She wants to save you with her bandages after she makes you bleed/Like a vampire, a parasite/Stretch the necks of her victims/She finds her prey in broad daylight/When you’re up, she’s down, down she’s up, it whips around/It’s the ride the way that she needs it/Whatever she wanted for whatever you need/Speechless and silent while she takes everything”.  The song was the album’s fourth and last single.  The title track, ‘The Eleventh Hour’ is a pleasant sounding song that waxes philosophical: “Rescue me from hanging on this line/I won’t give up on giving you a chance to blow my mind/Let the eleventh hour quickly pass me by/I’ll find you when I think I’m out of time/I’ve been down without you, cold without your love/In time will I be what you’re thinking of?”

The beautiful ballad ‘These Ordinary Days’ follows.  It includes this lyric which is a pearl of wisdom: “The harm of words is sometimes we don’t quite know what they really mean”.  Tab Laven plays banjo on ‘The Edge of Water’ which includes these words: “Do we give up this search and turn out the light and give up this holy ghost that rattles through the night?/I can’t see the sun for the daylight, I can’t feel your breath for the wind.../I get so used to these shadows/Will you chase away these shadows when you come back again?”

THE ELEVENTH HOUR is more a group of Christians making good music than it is a Christian band making a Christian music record.  The lyrics from time to time do touch on spiritual themes, but this isn’t a blatantly evangelical record, and that’s okay.  This pop, rock, and contemporary album is a pleasure to listen to.  Dan Haseltine’s vocals are easy on the ears.  This record is an artistic success that young adults should enjoy.  It is soothing.  I’m rating THE ELEVENTH HOUR 94%.  For more info visit: www.jarsofclay.com or find them on Facebook.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

HEAVENLY PLACE



Jacqueline ‘Jaci’ Davette Velasquez was born on October 15, 1979 in Houston, Texas.  She has won 7 Dove awards, had 3 Grammy nominations, 5 Latin Billboard Award nominations, and an American Music Award nomination.  Jaci was the first solo artist in Christian music history to reach gold status with a debut album (Source: Wikipedia.org).  That album is HEAVENLY PLACE (1996, Myrrh).

‘If this World’ opens the album.  It is a light pop song penned by Michelle Tumes, Tyler Hayes, Erik Sundin, and Mark Heimermann.  It is also one of five #1 singles found here!  These words are ones of encouragement: “If this world is a lonely place for you/Fall into the arms of love/If this world is a lonely place for you/There’s a God who you can trust/Who’ll comfort you and lift you up.../Put your faith in the One who will never let you down/He has proven His love/Open up to all He has for you now”.  ‘Un Lugar Celestial (A Heavenly Place)’ is a tropical sounding, bilingual song about intimacy with God: “I know I need my time alone with Him/His healing waters flowing deep within/Don’t have to wish upon a distant star/Cause the light of love fills my heart/Un lugar celestial/Just a little bit of heaven sent from up above/Un lugar celestial/Where the presence of my Father holds me in His love/Un lugar celestial”.

Chris Eaton wrote the pretty ballad ‘Flower in the Rain’.  It is about spiritual surrender: “So here I am again/Willing to be opened up and broken/Like a flower in the rain/Tell me what have I to do/To die and then be raised/To reach beyond the pain/Like a flower in the rain”.  David Mullen, Nicole Coleman Mullen, and Michael Ochs wrote the beautiful, inspirational number ‘On My Knees’.  Bobby Taylor plays oboe on, and The Nashville String Machine appears on this song of one who knows where to find true strength: “I’ve learned in laughter or in pain how to survive/I get on my knees (2X)/There I am before the love that changes me/See, I don’t know how but there’s power/When I’m on my knees”.

‘Shelter Me’ is a mid-tempo R&B number that is a duet with Chris Rodriguez.  It speaks of God’s faithfulness: “You will never leave me stranded, fending for myself/When the enemy advances You are there to help/Standing in the gap for me/Whenever I grow weak/You are my deliverer/The refuge that I seek”.  ‘Baptize Me’ has a catchy pop chorus: “Hear me as I pray/Wash my sins away/Drown me in Your grace/Baptize me/As my lips confess/Fill this emptiness with your holiness/Baptize me”.

George Cocchini plays guitars on the infectious pop song ‘We Can Make a Difference’.  It spurs on believers to act now: “It’s time to come together, you and I/And share the love of Jesus Christ/We can make a difference/We can make a change/We can make the sun shine through the rain/Shine on through the rain”.  ‘I Promise’ is a quiet ballad that serves as a vow: “So I promise to be true to You/To live my life in purity/As unto You/Waiting for the day/When I hear You say/’Here is the one I have created just for you’”.

‘We Will Overcome’ was penned by Mark Heimermann, Reggie Hamm, and Bob Farrell.  It is a good song to slow dance to and is one of encouragement: “So don’t be afraid/He will give us all the strength that we need/We will overcome/Heartache and sorrow/We will overcome/All the pain in this world/We will rise above the cares of tomorrow/We will overcome”.  Last up is ‘Thief of Always’.  It offers this advice: “In the midst of an ever-changing world, this one thing I know/You’ve got to live very moment as though it was your last/Before the thief of always/Steals tomorrow from your grasp/Before the chance to know His love has somehow passed you by/Let your heart reach out/Right here, right now/For the Lord to touch your life”.

Jaci Velasquez was only in her mid teens when she released this debut album, HEAVENLY PLACE.  The majority of the ten songs here point to God as a sure Refuge, Comfort, and Strength.  Intimacy with the Father is encouraged.  There are also a couple of songs about fighting temptation and about making a positive difference in the world in which we live.  Jaci’s vocals are warm and inviting on this mostly light pop and adult contemporary album.  I’m recommending it to fans of Rachael Lampa, whom I named my daughter after.  I give HEAVENLY PLACE 90%.  For more info visit: www.jacivelasquez.com.


Wednesday, October 05, 2016

R.I.O.T.


Carmelo Domenic Licciardello was born on January 19th, 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey.  To Christian music fans he is known simply as Carman.  He was born again at an Andrae Crouch concert.  Carman’s first album was 1980’s GOD’S NOT FINISHED WITH ME.  Some of his more popular albums in the 80’s and 90’s were THE CHAMPION, REVIVAL IN THE LAND, and THE STANDARD.  In 1995 he released R.I.O.T. on Sparrow Records.  There was a movie of the same name put out as well.  R.I.O.T. was produced by Brown Bannister and Tommy Sims, and executive produced by Peter York.  In the liner notes Carman writes: “A big thank you to John Hagee, Geof Jackson, and Rod Parsley for your incredible teaching that has fueled, fired, and inspired the songs on this record”.

The album opens with ‘God is Exalted’, a pop/dance track on which Carman is portrayed as the first officer of an airplane.  The song includes both rapping and singing.  It offers spiritual advice and insight: “Put on your wings, fly through the clouds/Our destination is Salvation/So make sure you check into the right location/And don’t forget to get that first class reservation/Which be the blood of the Lamb/Jesus Christ is the Captain in command/And with Christ as the Captain we are sure to fly the friendly skies/God is exalted and Satan is defeated/Jesus Christ is Lord”.  The title track, ‘R.I.O.T. (Righteous Invasion of Truth)’ is up next.  Penned by Carman and Tommy Sims, it won a Dove for Rap/Hip Hop Song of the Year.  It is a song of spiritual determination with Nicol Smith as one of the vocalists.  Here are some of the words: “And it’s true we’ve got the gaze of eternity in our eyes/But before this church is raptured/There’s no way we’re gonna leave here quiet/We want a righteous invasion of truth/We want a R.I.O.T.../Satan is a madman, a relentless entity.../The gates of hell come crashing down when the saints of God begin to praise”.

‘My Story’ was written by Carman, Tommy Sims, and T Bone.  Vocalists used include Angelo and Veronica Petrucci and The Born Again Church Choir.  Musically, this song of testimony has a Jamaican feel to it: “Don’t need no gangs, no drugs or a gat/I sure don’t need that pisto/Cause Jesus Christ is the only thing that’s running through my brain/The devil had me bound/But He broke the chains/Now to die is gain/And that’s my story/Givin’ all praises to the El Shaddai/He saved my soul”.  ‘Whiter than Snow’ is an epic gospel number over nine minutes long!  It was inspired by the musical ministry of Andrae Crouch.  Horns and strings, as well as the likes of Bob Carlisle and Cindy Morgan on backing vocals, are found on this song.  These lyrics speak of a spiritual homecoming: “It seems like a million years since the day I first believed Lord/Lord, I’ve been away so long/Now I’m hearin’ You, You call me home/Now I’m reachin’ out to You today/Knowing I deserve to be turned away/But that’s when, when I heard You say/When You said/’Come now and let us reason together/Come now, we can talk it over/Though your sin be as red as scarlet/I’ll wash you whiter than snow/I’ll wash you whiter than snow’”.

‘No Monsters’ is a spooky sounding rock number about spiritual warfare: “An evil spirit floated by my bed/I could hardly believe the nerve of this little punk demon/I though ayy, all right, that’s it, you’re dead!/And then what happened?/I got righteously indignant/And then what happened?/I was gonna make that demon pay/And then what happened?/The anointing came upon me/I chased it out when it heard me say/What did you say?/’Don’t want no monsters in my house tonight, don’t want no monsters in my house/You won’t get me screamin’, you’re nothin’ but a demon/It’s time for you to go now/I am a temple of the Holy Ghost/And I’m protected by the Lord of Hosts/Get out in the name of Jesus Christ/Cause I don’t want no monsters in my house tonight’”.  ‘7 Ways to Praise’ is a jazz/pop song that includes First Call on backing vocals.  It is a song of celebration that documents seven Hebrew words for praising the Lord.  They are: towdah (the sacrifice), yadah (lifting hands), barouch (bowing), shabach (shouting), zamar (playing instruments), halell (raving/boasting) and tehillah (a combination of the rest, including singing and dancing).

‘Step of Faith’ is a bouncy pop song with a catchy chorus: “I’m takin’ a step, takin’ a step of faith/Walkin’ out on the promises God made/Takin’ a giant leap in the air/Steppin’ out on nothin’ and findin’ somethin’ there/Tellin’ the doubt to wait, wait, wait, wait/I’m takin’ a step of faith”.  Terry McMillan plays harmonica, while Ricky Skaggs and Lisa Bevill provide backing vocals. You can’t get much better than that!  ‘Not 4 Sale’ is a spoken word piece that finds Satan tempting Carman: “He said ‘You’re quite a talent, the makings of a star/And with a little help from me, you really can go far/I’ll tell you what I’ve told the rest, the rules remain the same/Don’t glorify, support, or even mention Jesus’ Name/Now you can do something that’s positive, but just don’t misbehave/Like use your notoriety and get somebody saved/And don’t you be so vocal about the Truth you know/The Bible’s bad for business, leave your faith at home/I’ll give you wealth and fame, far as the eye can see/Live the way you want, but your career belongs to me’”.

‘There is a God’ is a beautiful anthem, partly spoken, partly sung.  George Cocchini plays guitar, while The One World Choir and The American Boychoir provide backing vocals.  This song refutes atheism: “It’s God who sent His only begotten Son to the cross of Calvary to save our souls from hell and the grave/It’s God who creates, God who delivers, God who heals, and God who is worthy of a thunderous ovation of praise/There is a hope, there is a light/There is an answer to all answers/There is a flame that burns in the night/And I know, I know, I know there is a God!”  The album closes with Jester Hairston’s moving gospel standard ‘Amen’.  O’Landa Draper & Associates appear on this song that reflects on and praises Christ: “Come on everybody, listen to my story/Story about my Jesus/Amen, Amen/See the little baby/Lyin’ in the manger on Christmas morning/Amen, Amen/I can see Him by the seashore talkin’ to those fishermen/He was makin’ them disciples/Amen, Amen/Now He’s ridin’ through Jerusalem/Oh, wave the palm branches/In pomp and splendor/Amen, Amen”.

Listening to a Carman album is like going on an adventure!  Musically, you never know what to expect from song to song.  On R.I.O.T. you will find pop, dance, hip hop, gospel, tropical, and jazz sounds entering your ears.  The thing is that Carman executes them all with skill.  The backing vocals are a prominent strength on this record as well.  By far, the majority of the songs here fall into the praise and worship and personal testimony category lyrically, but there are also three songs that deal with spiritual warfare, a common theme in Carman’s career.  This is a really fun album to listen to!  It glorifies God.  If you’ve never before heard Carman, this is a good place to start.  I’m rating R.I.O.T. a perfect 100%.  For more info visit: www.carman.org.




Tuesday, October 04, 2016

UNLEASHED


Skillet formed in Memphis, TN in 1996.  They put out their self-titled debut album that year.  Four singles were released from that album including ‘I Can’ and ‘My Beautiful Robe’.  Over the years Skillet has had two Grammy nominations and won a Billboard Music Award for AWAKE (2009) which was certified platinum.  The group’s current roster is: John Cooper (lead vocals, bass), Korey Cooper (keyboards, guitar), Jen Ledger (drums, vocals), and Seth Morrison (guitar).  John is the only founding member left.  UNLEASHED is Skillet’s tenth studio album.  It hit #1 on the iTunes Top Rock Albums chart, as well as on the US Billboard Top Rock Albums chart, and the US Billboard Christian albums chart.

‘Feel Invincible’ is the album’s first single.  It is a techno-rock song featuring additional guitar and backing vocals by Brian Howes.  It speaks of how God gives us strength when we need it most: “You make me feel invincible/Earthquake powerful/Just like a tidal wave/You make me brave/You’re my titanium/Fight song raising up/Like the roar of victory in a stadium/Who can touch me cause I’m made of fire?/Who can stop me tonight?/I’m hard wired/You make me feel invincible/I feel, I feel it, invincible (2X)”.  ‘Back from the Dead’ is one of four songs written by John L. Cooper and wife Korey.  This hard rocker is a song of encouragement: “Enemies clawing at my eyes/I scratch and bleed just to stay alive, yeah/The zombies come out at night/They’ll never catch me (2X)/B-b-b-b-back back back/Light it up, light it up/Now I’m burning/Feel the rush, feel the rush of adrenaline/We are young, we are strong, we will rise/Cause I’m back back back from the dead tonight/To the floor, to the floor/Hit the redline/Flying high, flying high at the speed of light/For the love, for the life, for the fight/Cause I’m back back back from the dead tonight”.

The album’s second single, ‘Stars’, was penned by John L. and Korey Cooper, Seth Mosley, and Jason Ingram.  It is a techno-worship ballad: “If You can hold the stars in place/You can hold my heart the same/Whenever I fall away, whenever I start to break/So here I am lifting up my heart/If You can calm the raging sea/You can calm the storm in me/You’re never too far away/You never show up too late/So here I am lifting up my heart/To the One who holds the stars”.  ‘I Want to Live’ is a good rock song that uses strings and offers hope to the hopeless: “All I ever needed was a reason to believe/You help me hold on/You ignite the fire in me/You always come for me/You know just what I need/Don’t make me wait for this/Save me from this darkness.../I want to live my life/The choice is mine/I made up my mind/Now I’m free to start again”.

‘Undefeated’ is one of two songs written by John, Kevin Churko, and Kane Churko.  The latter two help with backing vocals on this hard-rocking motivational number: “I came to fight for the love of the game/Unstoppable/That’s why I, I’m undefeated/Off the leash, out of the cage, an animal/That’s why I, I’m undefeated/I, I, I know I can beat it/Won’t give up cause I believe it/Fight for the love of the game/Unstoppable/That’s right I, I’m undefeated/I’m undefeated”.  Sam Tinnesz is a co-writer on ‘Famous’, a song of praise: “I testify/This is not a secret meant to keep/Your love is like fire/Spreadin’ from my heart straight to my feet/And when I was dead/You gave me new life/I’m liftin’ You up/With all of my might/I don’t care who’s to the left, to the right/You’re all that’s on my mind/Don’t really care what they say, what they think/I feel so alive/I’m unashamed, I’m wide-awake/Not gonna hide/Can’t deny You’re my everything”.

Mia Fieldes is a co-writer on ‘Lions’.  It includes backing vocals by Jerricho Scroggins and Asa Wiggins and is a pretty praise and worship song: “If we’re gonna fly, we fly like eagles, arms out wide/If we’re gonna fear, we fear no evil/We will rise/By Your power we will go/By Your Spirit we are bold/If we’re gonna stand, we stand as giants/If we’re gonna walk, we walk as lions/We walk as lions”.  ‘Out of Hell’ is a heavy rock song.  If you’ve ever felt abandoned, you’ll relate to these lyrics: “I can’t trust anyone/All that I got is another scar broken heart/I’ve been stabbed in the back, the bleeding won’t stop/Just another cut in the dark/Ohh, can You see me?/Ohh, can You hear me?/Can You hear me screaming for You?/I’m afraid I’m gonna die down here/I can’t save, I can’t save myself/Get me out!”

‘Burn it Down’ has these thoughts many will relate to: “Do you ever feel your colors are fading, like your world might combust?/Do the voices in your head make you crazy when they’re the only ones you trust?”  ‘Watching for Comets’ is a ballad about lost love: “Now I see you/I’m frozen in time/All your colors burst into life/I don’t dare close my eyes/Cause a love like this happens once in a lifetime/You were a comet and I lost it/Watching for comets/Will I see you again?”

Next up is ‘Saviors of the World’.  Granted, ‘saviors’ might not be the best choice of word here.  Maybe they should have went with ‘the lights’ instead.  At any rate, the chorus goes as follows: “We are the saviors of the world/And I will not be ruled/We are kings and conquerors/And I won’t bow to you/They will not control us anymore/We will not conform, no, anymore/We are the saviors, the saviors/The saviors of the world”.  ‘The Resistance’ is a motivational rock anthem: “You can take my heart/You can take my breath/When you pry it from my cold dead chest/This is how we rise up/Heavy as a hurricane/Louder than a freight train/This is how we rise up, heart is beating faster/Feels like thunder/Magic/Static/Call me a fanatic/It’s our world, they can never have it/This is how we rise up/It’s our resistance, you can’t resist us”.

So, how does UNLEASHED (2016, Atlantic) compare to other Skillet albums?  Unfortunately, it is not one of their stronger albums.  Several of the songs revisit themes the band has already covered on other albums.  Also, lyrically, this is one of the least creative Skillet albums.  That being said there are a handful of songs that would be worthy of being on a greatest hits project.  Musically, there is a good mix of songs to rock out to, and songs of reverence.  John Cooper and Jen Ledger’s vocals complement each other nicely.  Skillet is still one of the best Christian rock bands out there and this is certainly not an awful album, it just doesn’t show the growth and maturity I was looking for.  I’m rating UNLEASHED 83%.  For more info visit: www.skillet.com and www.atlanticrecords.com.