Prime Cuts: Jesus Will Still be Here, Set Free, Broken Ladders
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Selah's "Unbreakable" makes the listening experience pleasurable by avoiding one perennial error. Unlike many of their peers, they are not myopic. They do not channel all their energies in chasing one sound or one style of execution. Hence, they have elevated their music from enveloping a "sameness" that prevails through the entire album. Instead, they have included songs coming from various dispensations, including hymns, old spirituals as well as newly crafted songs. Neither, have they constrained their sound to house one specific genre. Rather, here you will find the trio sauntering across a variegated style, including pop, dance, Southern Gospel, and their signature ballads.
"Unbreakable," released by Curb Records, is the trio's first album in nearly three years. It was produced by founding members Todd Smith and Allan Hall and long-time collaborator Jason Kyle Saetveit. The project also includes contributions from such acclaimed producers as Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars) and Scott Cash (Dan Bremnes). Comprised of Todd Smith, Allan Hall and Amy Perry, Selah has garnered eight Gospel Music Association Dove Awards-including five Inspirational Album of the Year trophies-a Gold-certified album, eight #1 singles and total career sales in excess of 4 million units.
The first four of the thirteen songs are geared towards radio. This means that they are caramelized with a silky commercial sheen. The title track "Unbreakable" is most likely to succeed in battling for airplay. Showcasing a bouncy EDM beat, "Unbreakable" finds the trio playing catch up with the Lauren Daigles and the Tenth Avenue Norths out there. Then you have "I Got Saved" where Selah proves that you can be commercially viable yet without sacrificing an iota of Scriptural truth. "I Got Saved" is a testimony set in song of God's redeeming act. "Set Me Free" has some crisp NEEDTOBREATHE drum beats finding Amy Perry revelling in Christ's liberating act with echoes back to the Exodus story.
However, the better tracks are when Selah could not give a hoot of pleasing radio. Allan Hall's tender take of Point of Grace's "Jesus Will Still Be Here" is pure bliss. With only the acoustic lush of the piano, Hall's graceful platitude brings out an inert beauty of Christ's presence that is movingly assuring. As soon as Amy Perry starts singing "Broken Ladders," she has our ears glued to the speakers on this compelling homily of how Christ only wants our hearts. Five of the offerings here are hymns. Hall's take of "In the Sweet By and By" and the African-tinged "This Little Light of Mine (He Will Shine)" are two spotlights.
After all these years in touring, making records, and putting out songs that have been ingrained in our psyche and souls, Selah has learnt well how to make a good record. Filled with well-chosen songs each artfully produced, "Unbreakable" lives up to its titular.