Prime Cuts: Ruins, Iconic, Foreigner
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Of all the alternative hard rock bands out there, what sets Skillet apart is the coupling of Jen ledger's clear and airy vocals with John Cooper's grainy and forceful vocal ruggedness. Moreover, Ledger's stage presence has been reckoned by many as mesmerising and magnetic. This is why over the last decade while hard rock as a genre has been on decline, Skillet still could muster platinum-selling records and outsell concert tickets. One therefore cannot discount Ledger's contribution who first started as the team's drummer before she started sharing the microphone.
Now, Ledger has taken another bold step in releasing what is her debut EP. But lest one thinks Ledger has divorced herself from her mother band, "Ledger" finds the singer still collaborates with Skillet's Korey Cooper and Seth Mosley (Colton Dixon, Francesca Battistelli) as co-producers. Other than the Coopers, Ledger has also engaged Mia Fieldes & Riley Friesen as co-writers on this newly composed 6 song EP.
Fans of Skillet will not be disappointed from the get-go. "I'm Not Dead" is a sonic solenoid enhanced by cascading percussions and zinging electric guitar lines. Ledger herself is vocally on top of the game with her commanding vocal presence. Add some EDM beats to her signature hard rock and you'll get "Warrior." Ledger's power-infused yet smooth vocals and John Cooper's granular vocals perfectly compliment each other. A tad tedious, in terms of two tracks hovering around similar themes, is "BOLD" which like "Warrior" deals with the theme of stepping out in faith.
Drawing from 1 Peter 2:11, "Foreigner" is a solid number that reminds us of how our values shouldn't be shaped by this world. The explosive chorus, the ethereal sounding verses, and the electrifying bridge with the towering drums make this song a standout. The ballad "Ruins" is the album's cynosure. Instead of just utilizing her higher registers, here Ledger explores some of her softer vocal shades that is just gorgeous. Most importantly, the words, that speak of how God can use our ruins for his glory, needs to be heeded.
"Iconic," which closes the EP, is an all out worship party anthem. Mind you this isn't your standard subdued worship; when Ledger parties she really cuts loose with a blast of electric guitars and ear-popping percussions. An all out celebration of who Jesus is, this is really what a Godly party ought to sound like. Does Jen ledger charter new grounds with this new EP? Not necessary. But is this a great hard rock record with heart and soul? The answer is a resounding yes.