In 2004, BarlowGirl's self-titled debut made waves in the Christian market, showing us just how much girls can rock, while still leaving room for growth. Since then, the three sisters have managed to churn out records that progressively improve, each release better than the last. Keeping to that tradition, BarlowGirl brings us some of their best work yet, the diverse project known as Love & War.
The album kicks off with "Come Alive," the first sign that Love & War is a fresh departure from the success of How Can We Be Silent. Lauren Barlow takes lead vocals, and like most of the songs the drummer fronts, (on this record, the youngest Barlow belts out "Beautiful Ending," "Running out of Time," "Time For you To Go" and "Hello Sunshine") this song is beautifully in-your-face, and in this case, serves as a wake-up call. "Come Alive," along with other tracks throughout the record, bears similarities with Hawk Nelson's work to date and that of Capital Lights (in indirect sort of ways). Basically, the album holds variety, something missing in its predecessor. Additionally, only minimal violin sequences are present here, allowing the band to bring the intensity of the messages to life in different ways. Becca Barlow's guitar work is excellent and crisp throughout, leading her sisters in bringing their best efforts as well, as it sounds like the other two Barlows have more fun with their instruments this time around.
Alyssa's delicately intense voice rings in "Open Heavens," a track in which the girls show us their diversifying talents. "Beautiful Ending," a lovely piano driven tune, brings to mind some BarlowGirl oldies, such as "I Need You To Love Me." "Stay With Me" is a plea to God to stick by our sides as we go through hard times.
Love & War possesses its share of pop songs, despite the fact that even some rock tracks are given a pop flair. "Our Worlds Collide" is an example of this, and is a light reminder that God is ever present in our world. Another example is the album's closer, "Hello Sunshine" a positive pop tune, except on this track the idea of the song gets lost among over simplified lyrics, for instance "Oh my lovely/shining for me/let my eyes see all the beauty." Not exactly some of BG's best, but the song is still a fitting addition to the record regardless.
"Love is Marching" is especially thought-provoking, pondering, "Everyone will pass/and when we breath our last can we say/we have lived for more/did we live to die for love?" It combines the lovely harmonies of all three girls' voices, and urges the listener to wonder. The theme of the record is established by now, as the ladies share with us the need to have love and show love, as well as to battle for it. "Running Out Of Time" is an urgent call to war, and is definitely a fun one to listen to. Next comes a classic BarlowGirl anthem, a song about not being obsessed by the media and putting a standstill to letting it dictate our thoughts. "Time For You To Go" is the closest you can get to "Clothes" and "Superstar," in the sense that it is another fun track and spits in the face of mainstream pop culture.
"Sing Me A Love Song" showcases all three girls' ability to mesh their voices flawlessly, and is sung to the Lord, asking Him to remind us who we are. As we near the end, the band gives us a gospel infused song, a cry to allow God to soften our hearts. Alyssa's voice is at its best here, the gospel choir providing background vocals is a nice touch, and adds to the feel of the song.
Love & War is the most diverse collection from the all-girl band. The ladies shine musically, vocally, and lyrically. Though it isn't perfect (but pretty dang close), the project lived up to BarlowGirl's previous release in a refreshing way for the group, and is sure to make some rightly earned waves yet again.- Review date: 9/5/09, written by Laura Cree of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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