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JFH Staff Review


Hawk Nelson, Miracles
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Hawk Nelson
Miracles



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Pop
Album length: 10 tracks: 37 minutes, 16 seconds
Street Date: April 6, 2018


READER RATING:   


I vaguely remember back in my junior high/high school days the rise of a band called Hawk Nelson. They rode a punk rock revolution in the Christian market and scored several popular hits. I wasn't interested in punk at the time and passed them by with other similar artists. Over a decade has passed and as I come to Miracles, their latest release, I am greeted by a different band. Under the guidance of a new vocalist (guitarist Jonathan Steingard who stepped up to the microphone in 2012 after Jason Dunn's exit), the group has shed its quirky pop punk and fully embraced radio-friendly synth-pop. I always knew that Hawk Nelson was quirky and energetic. The energy remains and the music feels like a natural progression from where they've been, but the quirkiness is gone.

Miracles is a 10-track album ready to be played on the radio. It is upbeat in music and message and never wavers from that lane. The songs either address the listener with encouraging words (as in "No Such Thing," "He Still Does (Miracles)" and "Close") or offers optimistic prayers to God ("Weightless," "Never Runs Dry," "I'd Never Know"). Occasionally, they grow introspective ("Parachute" and "Crooked Lines") and that's about as dark as it gets, though the darkness is never anything more than a passing shadow. In short, this is a sunny album meant for celebrating bright days or bringing one out of dark nights.

With an album so safe and peppy, it'd be easy to give it a glossy review and move on. However, Miracles' unrelenting optimism grows old quickly. By the end, you half expect the speakers to explode in a cloud of rainbow dust with a magical little unicorn prancing about in their place. The music rarely (if ever) slows down long enough to breathe and soon gets repetitive and forgettable. The lyrics are strong and the choruses catchy, but there's nothing here to set the band apart from anything else you hear on K-LOVE.

It is difficult to not compare this current iteration with the band's older work. Miracles could have used a little more quirk to spice things up. Still, even taking this album on its own, it fails to rise above the average pop fare of the day. The optimism of Miracles is infectious, however, and this record will make for great summer listening. There's nothing to be ashamed of here, but there's also nothing memorable enough to last beyond a passing sunny day.

- Review date: 4/4/18, written by John Underdown of Jesusfreakhideout.com

 

JFH Staff's Second Opinion




What constitutes artistic growth? If there's one question that bounces around the offices of music websites and magazines, that's the one. Should a band or artist stick with what works; that sound and approach that gave them a fan base in the first place? Or should all the twists and turns of an artistic journey be fully embraced as part of the process? Hawk Nelson has traveled a winding road from the fun pop-punk of their early days (heavy on the power chords and shouted choruses) to their almost guitar-free new album, Miracles. The listeners' own personal answer to that question will most likely color their enjoyment of the album.

But Hawk Nelson has never stopped being fun, energetic or heartfelt. The sheer exuberance in the ten tracks here are like sonic caffeine, with a panoply of impressive synthesizer and electronic sounds that wrap the uplifting songs in a bouncy shell. Opening track "No Such Thing" states the band's intentions forcefully, and serve as a theme that travels throughout the album. "I'm telling you / there's no such thing as hopeless / to a believer / there's no such thing as broken / for a redeemer / there's no war He can't win / no fear He can't face / no hurt He can't heal / no soul He can't save / there's no such thing."

There's no letup, either sonically or thematically throughout the whole album. Lead single "He Still Does (Miracles)" is appropriately anthemic and well-executed, while "Parachute" slows down the beat a bit with its personal prayer for rescue. "Weightless," "Never Runs Dry" and "Crooked Lines" all serve as a great batch of sprightly tunes to put on the jogging playlist. The album ends with a few cool-down numbers in "Close" and "I'd Never Know," and wrap up the album well.

The relentless uplift here could have used a little more nuance and depth in the lyrics, perhaps a song or two outlining the darkness. But that's a small quibble when compared to the blast of goodwill and Godly encouragement on display here. Miracles is both a great choice for a cloudy, spiritually dry day, or a summer road trip to the beach. Both kinds of days are a gift and a true miracle.
- Review date: 4/5/18, written by Alex Caldwell

 

. Record Label: Fair Trade Services
. Album length: 10 tracks: 37 minutes, 16 seconds
. Street Date: April 6, 2018
. Buy It: Apple Music
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: Amazon.com (CD)
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. No Such Thing (3:22)
  2. He Still Does (Miracles) (3:34)
  3. Parachute (3:22)
  4. Weightless (3:45)
  5. Never Let You Down (feat. Hunter and Tara) (4:22)
  6. Right Here With You (feat. MDSN) (3:57)
  7. Never Runs Dry (3:41)
  8. Crooked Lines (3:55)
  9. Close (3:42)
  10. I'd Never Know (3:36)

 

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