Release Date: September 21st 2018
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
If you have ever been a frequent browser of our website, then you know that Cimorelli are in fact one of our favourite artists of late. We’ve reviewed a vast majority of albums (all of which can be seen here), interviewed Katherine Cimorelli a few times, and just made it plain obvious that such a band like Cimorelli, has become a beacon of hope, inspiration, encouragement and motivation in the lives of many people around the world, ourselves included (on the site, and personally as well). While I won’t bore you with the details of how Cimorelli came to be, and the history behind the many, many albums they have curated together over the years (I’ll leave it to previous reviews to handle that aspect), what I will say is this- Christina, Katherine, Lisa, Amy, Lauren and Dani Cimorelli are all talented young women, and it helps that each of them are women of faith as well. Being great role models for both young women and men in today’s society, I am one such person that has constantly been inspired and even challenged by these sisters, not only through their music, but also through their vlogs and inspirational messages they have uploaded every so often on their youtube band page, over the years.
Formed a little over 10 years ago, we have been blessed over the years to hear from Cimorelli and all its members, as we see in fact, one of today’s most influential bands (I reckon), this turn of the millennia. Cimorelli are some of the most honest, emotive, raw, hopeful, and encouraging artists that have influenced both the mainstream and Christian circles, delivering a myriad of pop and inspirational covers, alongside 5 EPs and 3 albums full of original material. These six sisters (all of which have a further 5 brothers; and are in a family of 11!) are as needed in today’s society, as role models to the young generation, as they are relevant and heartfelt, and much of their music, be it covers or original material, oozes such passion and fervour. With the band releasing a variety of cover material this year, alongside originally written songs ‘Thirst For Life’ and ‘Single on Valentine’s Day’, not to mention a few worship covers in ‘I Can Only Imagine/What a Beautiful Name’, ‘Oceans’ and ‘Reckless Love’, we are in awe of how these sisters can impact both the genres of mainstream music and CCM, at once. Their new EP I Love You Or Whatever released in July to those who pre-ordered the EP on their website, and in August for everyone else, and featured a more happier, fun, poppy sound compared to their sombre and more reflective Sad Girls Club last year, thereby asserting the fact that with each album/EP release, their music style is unique and different- the girls have indeed moved from more of a country style musical undertone in Up at Night, to the worshipful Alive, the pop-reflective Sad Girls Club and now the summer-y pop goodness in I Love You Or Whatever.
Which brings me to this review of ‘Unloved’, by Lisa Cimorelli. Yes, this is the first song released with just Lisa at the helm (while Lisa led ‘Wrong’ on Sad Girls Club, the song was indeed part of a Cimorelli album, rather than just a release on its own- not attached to the group, which is what ‘Unloved’ is- a song written by Lisa, and just recorded by Lisa!). As Lisa herself describes it, ‘…first off, it’s not a “solo project”. This is a side project that I am very excited to share with you. I am not leaving my sisters or going anywhere. This is for anyone who wants to hear more music from me in addition to what I’m already doing with my band. We are in an excellent place as a group and that’s why I’m finally ready to put this out and enjoy it with my family and all of you. I’m very excited to dive into this with you guys. So now, let us begin…’ ‘Unloved’ is written by Lisa, sung by Lisa, and about, yes, you guessed it, Lisa. Lisa is not leaving Cimorelli the group, nor is the group disbanding. The song ‘Unloved’ therefore is a song personal for Lisa, and only for Lisa to articulate and sing. Which makes sense- why would you want any of your sisters to sing parts of a song that is very personal to you?
And so, we are given ‘Unloved’ by Lisa, that stands at a track length of 3:13, and is a reminder to us all that to feel, even the bad and ugly things, is just as valid and even necessary for us to function- we ought not to stuff down our feelings and close the door on the repressed emotions, because as soon as we believe that what we feel doesn’t matter (when in fact the opposite is true), we start to live a life that is empty. ‘Unloved’ is Lisa unveiling when she really felt during her own pit of despair a few years ago, and by releasing such a vulnerable song like this, others who hear this can also feel like they themselves don’t have to pretend to have it all figured out, that they can reveal their true selves too and not be judged for it. And so, here is the crux of the question- why release a song like ‘Unloved’ in the first place? Look at the lyrics, and all you can see is Lisa feeling depressed and acknowledging that her life isn’t great, that she wants to be loved and all she can do is just fill the space all up with meaningless things and just hope for the best. Why release a song that is seemingly less hopeful than what a song should be? Why release ‘Unloved’ at all- what would be its purpose?
Hard questions, I’m sure. But herein lies an answer so simple. Releasing a song like ‘Unloved’, or rather, just releasing ‘Unloved’, is reminder enough, that we are not all together as we are to assume we are. And that’s ok. We are flawed humans, and Lisa’s ‘Unloved’ calls us all to be honest with our feelings, even if they are as ugly as those portrayed in the song. As Lisa has been and continues to be a role model for many young people around the world, releasing ‘Unloved’, and showing the world that this was what she was feeling and experiencing circa 2015, is again another reminder- that we as humans are very good at placing on facades, even though we are supposed to be honest and show our true selves, and be free from all the pretending that we’re ok when we’re not. For once we lay down our defences and break the walls between us, we can understand that our fellow man is a lot like us, craving for things that are universal- love, hope, acceptance, joy, peace, things that should last more than just this life, longing for change in oneself and others, and hoping that the next day will be better than the last. While ‘Unloved’ in its entirety doesn’t really have a happy ending (let’s just say that the song itself is a sad one at best, and a depressing one, at worst), what Lisa’s goal with the song, is to allow other people to get in touch with their own feelings, no matter how scary the process can be. ‘Unloved’ speaks of the messy lives we are navigating, and just being real in a life that shows us that being fake gets us more places than being vulnerable and raw. ‘Unloved’ allows us to break through the facades and cut into the authenticity and reality that yes, sometimes life is hard, that sometimes we can feel the things we feel.
But this is not the end. Lisa’s experience that is documented in ‘Unloved’ was from 2015- here we are in 2018. Three years later, where Lisa herself is in a happy state. ‘Unloved’, for what its worth, is just a snapshot in time, rather than describing life itself for some people. As the years pass, as does the feelings that life itself is inadequate. ‘Unloved’ is a showing of the scars from Lisa’s troubled past, and a reminder for us as well as herself of how far she has come over the years. The song is her testimony in a way of God’s providence over her life- a contrast between then and now. It is a reminder that it is never too late to turn around, that we are always loved by God, our friends and our family, even if we ourselves don’t love us, for whatever reason. ‘Unloved’ really is a game-changer, and hopefully a catalyst for people who hear such vulnerabilities in a song, to open up themselves, to not be ashamed to admit that yes, they don’t know, they don’t have it all together…and that’s ok. As Lisa shares herself, ‘…I am now in the next chapter where things actually make sense. Where love is real and commitment and sacrifice bring fruitful rewards that create hope and purpose in my world. I could tell you so many stories of how I changed and why I was wrong and what lead me to where I am now. Stay tuned for that. I will tell you my whole story eventually but we must start here. This was before things changed…’
‘Pretty Pink’, ‘You’re Worth It’, ‘Good Enough’, ‘Wrong’, ‘The Love of a Man’, ‘Headlights’… what do these songs all have in common? Yes, all written, in part or full, by Lisa Cimorelli. All of these songs aforementioned have been some of my own favourite songs by the band Cimorelli over the last few years. Add ‘Unloved’ to that list also. Let’s just say that Lisa herself is a talented singer-songwriter, yet to unveil something as vulnerable and personable as ‘Unloved’ takes courage and bravery. It is in these moments that I understand why I love the band- because of their authenticity and portrayal of real life, no matter how messy it is. For Cimorelli and their commitment to delivering quality music, be it covers or originals, has taught me that there is a wide variety of music out there at my grasp, and ‘mainstream’ music isn’t that ‘bad’ or ‘inferior’ to Christian music. In fact, God can indeed speak through anything, even a song that wasn’t necessarily written with Jesus at the forefront. ‘Unloved’ is one such song that has spoken to myself of late!
Mainstream music can encourage, and Cimorelli has shown us, myself especially, that mainstream songs, can in fact help us on our journey of life, and tell us more about ourselves and God in the whole process of this crazy period from birth to death, called an exciting adventure the Lord is calling us all out to participate in. My musical tastes have been broadened because of Cimorelli, and for that I am thankful and grateful. Music is the universal language of the soul, and as these 6 sisters continue to deliver harmonies and melodies as emotive and poignant as they have been for years, then the world will be a better place because of it. Though ‘Unloved’ is just Lisa, it doesn’t make the song itself any less emotive or poignant. Lisa has a knack for delivering great vocal moments, and ‘Unloved’ has tons of them. But the song is much more than vocal moments, or quality of piano. The message of unveiling the messy and confusing bits of life (even if we feel scared of judgement), is something we all need to consider moving forward in our own lives. ‘Unloved’ is not just for anyone who loves piano-pop music. It is for people who love music, full stop. Well done Lisa for such a heart-warming yet equally confronting song in ‘Unloved’. Here’s to the song impacting lives, as we’re to challenge the status quo, in the upcoming months and years ahead!
RIYL: Cimorelli, Plumb, Rachel Platten, BarlowGirl, 1GN, Carmen Justice