Prime Cuts: Solid Rock, Call It Grace, Broken Man
There are often two ways to approach an acoustic album. First, some artists simply stripped their songs off their backings and imbued them with softer and warmer wooden sounds. Second, there are others who take the same original songs and re-don them with re-imagined renderings giving the same songs a brand new lease of life. Unspoken completely shatters the templates of how acoustic albums are done. Instead of just regurgitating out the same songs they have had released in the past in softer sonic coatings, they have added 5 brand new songs to the whole mix. This means that 5 of the songs on "Unplugged" are brand new songs augmented to a collection of some of the quartet's biggest songs done the acoustic way. In this regard, Unspoken is to be highly commended.
Since 2003, Unspoken has been making their mark in Christian music. Comprising of Mike Gomez, Jon Lowry, Chad Mattson and Ariel Munoz, Unspoken has been known for the sparkling pop-centric rock sound. Though they have had three significant Christian hits, namely, "Who You Are," "Lift My Life Up" and "Start a Fire," their music have often been lost in the sea of many guitar-driven rock sound-alikes. "Unplugged" is truly an ear-opener. Case in point being the brand new composition "The Solid Rock." Backed by the haunting riffs of a grand piano and gorgeous sounding strings, "The Solid Rock" speaks of our never destructible hope in Jesus Christ. The poetic beauty are so sweeping that you can't help by shed a tear when Mattson sings: "From the shipwreck of my life, you build a truer heart/In my brokenness you shine, my loss is where you start/To form in me your will until my love is a reflection of/Your love for me."
"Start a Fire," a song that is fast becoming Unspoken's signature hit, is already a fan favorite in its original setting. But with its new calypso makeover with an underpinning of New Orleans black spiritual, "Start a Fire" sounds even better here. "Call It Grace," one of the best ballads from their self-titled album, gets a piano only backing bringing out a stark holy awe when we hear: "It's nothing less than scandalous/This love that took our place." "Broken Man" (not the Rhett Walker Band song), a new original coming from the team, has a bright pop-country feel holding promise that this could be a huge hit if they release it as a single. With its bouncy bet, "Born with a Broken Heart" sounds like it is begging for clubby dance electronic treatment. But thank goodness, Unspoken has resisted that temptation.
Acoustic albums are now the hip thing for many artists to do. And acoustic albums are often time buyers as singers spend more time preparing for their new album. Unspoken, thankfully, is not just a crowd follower. With the amount of creativity, re-imagination, and emotions invested in this album, "Unplugged" feels like a brand new album; an album not to be missed.
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