Fair Trade Services
Release Date: December 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Fighting For
- Outside The Lines
- Every Beat of My Broken Heart
- What I’m Looking For
- Speak For Me (Demo)
Let’s take a trip down memory lane a couple of years shall we? Lots of buzz and attention had been given to Hawk Nelson (who changed lead singers from Jason Dunn to Jon Steingard), and I guess it’s appropriate and fitting, though nonetheless controversial, with Jason referring to his former bandmates last year as abandoning their pop punk roots and becoming more and more like One Direction. All squibs and squabbles aside, Hawk Nelson, along with Newsboys and Audio Adrenaline, with their lead singer changes, are probably three of the most impacting lead singer changes, in terms of effect on the CCM industry. The curiosity to see if Jonathan can pull off a whole record is understandable. And how was Made, which released in 2013? It was fantastic, to my liking (although others would disagree) and has me excited to hear the band’s new album Diamonds releasing in March this year.
As I have recently become a fan of Hawk Nelson from their post-Crazy Love days; I can say that Made is one of my favourite albums of 2013, and hopefully the newest chapter to the career of these Canadian men of God in Diamonds is sure to be an exhilarating ride and another exciting page. Although for now, let’s dive deep into the special ‘best-of’ Noisetrade sampler the guys unveiled in December, shall we?
Opening the track list is “Fighting For”, which speaks about relationships, and is an epic anthem with a mighty and immense crescendo. Possibly about Jon’s wife Jess and about how the struggle of marriage and committing yourself to your spouse every day, is a challenge; we are reminded that any relationship will last and be satisfying when Jesus is at the centre. As Christians, we should never take marriage for granted- it is a sacred and holy communion between man and woman that is for life. With the melancholy piano ballad also doubling as a song between Christ and His church; “Fighting For” encourages and opens our eyes. It is clear that the boys of Hawk Nelson are now men, and the EP opener is a part of a picture of how far they’ve come as Christians and as people.
Another song about trust, the piano pop “Outside The Lines”, speaks about how God goes above and beyond the rules to help us with our problems, and to help us foster our relationships. Miracles happen every day; and “Outside The Lines” proves that, with the lyrics that eloquently highlight that God surprises us everyday with the impossible when He colours outside the lines in ways we can’’t imagine! Driven by synth and keys, the next track “Every Beat Of My Broken Heart” questions whether the difficult moments and trials in our life have meaning or purpose, and later in the chorus, Jon encourages us that out of unfortunate experiences and circumstances come a greater understanding of ourselves and a stronger character. God is working in our broken hearts, for us to know Him more, and that is a good thing. Hawk Nelson’s power ballad anthem is sure to gain lots of buzz and change a lot of lives.
The poppy fun and inspirational “What I’m Looking For” is the last of the ‘known’ tracks. Reminding me musically of an Owl City track, especially in Jon’s crisp and clean vocals. The joyful ball of energy was the first song on Made– marking the first song sung without Jason at the helm, and for me the exploration of more of the pop/dance genre is welcomed with open arms. Across the pulsating drum beats and the evident electric guitar riffs that can make anyone sway and dance with a smile on their face; Jon and the band tackle the topic of mortality and filling the empty void in our heart with something ‘…bigger than me…something I can believe in, more than a feeling…’; and invoke in us a sense of longing for a deeper relationship with God, as Jon sings about needing ‘…more than just a temporary high…’. Jesus is all we need in life, and the way the band delve into the issue of moving from temporary pleasures to eternity with Jesus, is presented in a way that is sombre and reflective, yet is also musically fresh, invigorating, and exciting. With an contagious melody and honest lyrics, gone is the Relient K like pop/punk, and now here is the Sanctus Real like pop/rock with a bit of Group 1 Crew-type of dance, but the band still sounds like Hawk Nelson, which to me is definitely a good thing.
With the ‘new’ “Speak For Me” (a demo recorded for Made but never making it on the final cut) being an earnest and poignant prayer led by soft keys, asking God to speak for us when we don’t have the words (why wasn’t this included on Made? A decision that leaves me scratching my head!); the EP ends the way it started- with the focus on God and an unashamed faith that Jon and co aren’t afraid to share to the world!
Hawk Nelson may not sound as they did in their previous albums, but these young men of God have a fantastic heart for Jesus, and it shows through these new offerings, Sure, Made will have its haters (and maybe even haters for this ‘EP’- why not put on “Just Getting Started” and “Drops In The Ocean”- both sure hits that will be included on Diamonds); yet many more will be touched and impacted by the diverse music and honest lyrics that Jon, Justin and Daniel bring to the table. Though for me, I was apprehensive about their new direction after Jason Dunn left, now I am sold on Jon Steingard as lead singer. It’s great to hear a reminder, a 5 song snapshot of why these guys are great, and I personally am stoked for Diamonds in March! Well done guys, and I pray that God blesses your band heaps in the future.
3 songs to listen to: Every Beat Of My Broken Heart, Speak For Me, What I’m Looking For
RIYL: Audio Adrenaline, TobyMac, Finding Favour, Building 429, Sanctus Real