Release Date: November 4th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The Sound of Love
- Hope is Alive
- It Was Love
- While We’re Living
- You Were There
“…we want to present this Love to the masses, to anybody who will listen. We go into schools and have kids come up to us and tell us that they were going to commit suicide that day—the letters were written, the decision made. We’re given a chance to let people know they have a purpose, that God hasn’t given up on them, that He loves them and will work all things for good. That’s a message we can share from experience…” It’s been a few years since Abandon released new material. After their successful 2011 album Control (and personally one of my favourites of the year, featuring songs like “Live It Out”, “Feel It In Your Heart”, “New Year’s Day” and “Your Love Goes On”), the five piece outfit disappeared off the radar of any social media, only to reappear a few years later, with their new independently funded (via kickstarter) album Love Prevails.
With a new lead singer in Justin Engler (Josh left the band and is now currently the lead vocalist of Audio Adrenaline 3.0), is Love Prevails worth it to purchase? Within a sea of CCM/rock/pop albums that release each year, would it be beneficial to listen to and purchase Abandon’s latest? From first single “It Was Love”, and the fact that Justin’s vocals sound eerily similar to his brother’s, gives a resounding ‘yes’, from me and hopefully anyone who takes a chance and listen to personally one of the most underrated Christian rock bands that have emerged within the last 5-10 years.
The first radio single from the album, “It Was Love” released to radio mid-2014, and with expectation and anticipation on anything Abandon related throughout 2013, the single provided us all Abandon fans a great listen as Justin took over from Josh as being the lead vocal of the band. A song that reminds us that ‘…it wasn’t nails that held You to the cross, it was love…’, Justin’s vocal similarity to Josh is an asset to this album and what I reckon will be the start of a great new season of Abandon’s music moving forward. Fully funded via kickstarter, this electronically acoustic melody is the start of a new era for the band, and one that is fully welcomed by myself as “It Was Love” fast becomes one of my favourite independently produced songs of 2014 since Kerrie Roberts’s “Come Back to Life”. A message of hope as we are reminded that it was because of Christ’s love that He was crucified, Abandon’s first single in 3 years is well worth the wait.
“Forever” similarly was another standout for myself- released first on Reverence: An Offering, this radio hit full of acoustic guitar and Justin’s powerful voice gives us hope that ‘…there’s a God who knows your pain and He has the scars to prove it, so everybody keep the faith cause soon there’ll be a day when all the scars will break…’ While the theme of God reigning forever seems to be cliché- in many songs and sung and written in many ways- Abandon’s simple yet still profound melody is one to be remembered and repeated on my iTunes playlist for many years to come. Well done Justin and the band for these two standouts on Love Prevails!
The rest of the album is just as profound and poignant as the first 2 singles, as Abandon bring some of their best musical work since songs like “Feel It In Your Heart”, “Hero” and “Safe in Your Arms”. Clocking in at a tad below 3 minutes, “The Sound of Love” brings a hopeful and energetic rock sound to the fore as gang vocals litter through a track that reminds us of the theme of spreading God’s love in everyday situations; while the electronic infused dance track “Messenger” harkens back to the 80s with a poignant theme of carrying the message of love to everyone we meet. While at times it may seem like the song was hand-picked from a pile of cliché words and overused musical arrangement, the song as a whole gives us hope that ‘…love is calling you back home, I know you feel it but you’re not alone…there is not a heart that can’t be healed, love is calling you closer…’ With similar electronic beats and vocal echoes that gives a 80s music vibe, “Hope is Alive” comforts us with the powerful truth that God’s hope is alive in us, and those around us that give encouragements to us whenever we need it, and gives a great segue into “It Was Love”, the first single on the album.
With electronic noises that remind me of Nintendo games, “Warrior” brings with it a theme of overcoming situations with the power of God’s grace as we ‘…take this giant down, cause my heart is like, like a warrior…’, and while at times it may seem like the band layers on too much electronics for my own liking; this powerful rock anthem becomes to this album what “Live It Out” was on Control. Piano-heavy anthem “While We’re Living” showcases the emotion in Justin’s voice as we see a theme of hope and love thread through not just individual tracks but throughout the album as a whole. Poignancy and transparency touch this song in particular as Justin cries out ‘…let us hope while we’re living…’, reminding us all to never give up hoping for better circumstances whilst living the lives set before us. While at times I felt like songs like “Better”, “You Were There” and last track “Heaven” to be not necessarily as inspiring or even as interesting as the remaining 7 melodies; each of these three songs still served a purpose on the album, presenting the themes of us being better with God, declaring Him present in every moment, and living like heaven is on earth respectively.
Abandon 2.0 (just like Audio Adrenaline 2.0 and Newsboys 2.0) can require some time to familiarise ourselves with new singer Justin, and Love Prevails is just the album for us to fall in love with Justin’s powerful voice as much as his brother Josh’s when he was around leading the band. While the band in and of itself has had changes, the songs haven’t suffered in the process. From songs like “It Was Love” to “Messenger” and “Forever”, we are reminded that love prevails over ever situation and circumstance- something we can so often forget if our lives become chaotic. Though a long time coming, this 10 track album is one to purchase if you are a fan of the original Abandon, or if you enjoy artists like Kutless, Audio Adrenaline or Newsboys. While Justin’s voice is almost identical to Josh’s, you are still reminded of Josh’s absence from the band. Justin held his own as lead singer, which is a great testament to the talented skills of both brothers, and a reminder that Abandon’s next album will be equal, or even better, than Love Prevails. More pop-rock compared to Control’s dance electronic atmosphere, Justin and co. ought to be congratulated for such a great album, one that’ll be in my iTunes rotation playlist for weeks and months to come.
3 songs to listen to: Forever, Messenger, It Was Love
RIYL: Kutless, Audio Adrenaline, Abandon (with Josh Engler), Newsboys