If ever there were a surprise success story in Christian music, the sisters of BarlowGirl would be the best ones to tell it. After all, up until their 2004 debut record, an all-female rock band was virtually unheard of on the Christian music scene. Nevertheless, their first album was well received by fans and critics alike and also was the home of the smash hit "Never Alone." Another Journal Entry, the trio's follow-up to that release, kept up the pace by earning them the title of "Yahoo! Who's Next" artist in early 2006 and launched another chart topping single, "I Need You To Love Me." Throw in their rigorous touring schedule, and it's easy to see that these three young ladies are quickly on their way to becoming truly seasoned performers.
With the Barlow sisters quickly creating a well-respected name for themselves within the music world, one has to wonder exactly how they would handle their third project. Clearly the expectations are high. The Otto Price-produced How Can We Be Silent is the latest offering from BarlowGirl. While this record stays close to the sound of the band's previous work, it departs enough from the first two discs to win new fans and display the girls' maturing abilities.
The best thing about How Can We Be Silent is the impeccable of harmonies of the Alyssa, Lauren, and Rebecca Barlow. There is no denying that these girls possess impressive vocal abilities that give them a distinct, original flavor which separates them from the rest of the rock n' roll world. The trio puts their excellent singing skills to good use here, complementing the ten songs of How Can We Be Silent beautifully, in a similar fashion to their past efforts.
As the girls have gained more respect as musicians over the past couple of years, it appears that it has given them the confidence to explore new musical territory. Opening track "Song For The Broken" is one of the strongest pieces from How Can Be Silent, bringing to mind the sound of "Never Alone." With a haunting string arrangement, a beautiful yet subtle piano part, and the most aggressive vocals we've heard from BarlowGirl thus far, this song has the potential to reach the heights of its predecessor. Raging rock anthem "Million Voices" displays a slight resemblance to "Song For The Broken" but separates itself enough to hold its own against any competition and become a future concert favorite. "Here's My Life" and "Sweet Revenge" both begin with a stripped-down sound before ending full-force with a complete band. The jazz-influenced "One More Round," while a solid effort, is perhaps the most awkward moment of the whole album. With enough of a jazz feel to depart from the typical rock song, it still lacks that special punch carried by true jazz classics, leaving the listener longing for more. However, closing ballad "I Don't Regret" makes up for any short-comings as Alyssa Barlow sings with great conviction over a soft piano, creating one of the most memorable songs in all of Barlow history.
How Can We Be Silent explores the usual "Christian album" subject matters. God's faithfulness ("I Believe In The Sun," "Take My Chances," "Here's My Life") and living boldly for Christ ("Million Voices," "Keep Quiet") lead the way for lyrical themes. "One More Round" deals head-on with battling temptation and finding strength from the Lord while "Sweet Revenge" is centered on forgiving others and letting go of past emotional hurt inflicted by others. Oddly enough, the Barlow sisters wrote a purity song for males entitled "The Guy Song." Though it does seem a bit out of the ordinary for a group of girls to write such an anthem for guys, it will no doubt become a fan favorite.
Moving forward from their previous two efforts, How Can We Silent shows the personal and musical growth of the members of BarlowGirl. Though this album still leaves room for the girls to continue to mature as musicians and songwriters, How Can We Be Silent is one album that is sure to have everyone talking.- Review date: 7/21/07, written by Lauren Summerford
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