Sophomore slump. Every artist cringes at that term, especially after having a highly successful debut and an excellent first year at radio. BarlowGirl not only snagged the title of 2004's best selling new artist but also watched their single "Never Alone" become a heavy-hitter on the airwaves, making for an awesome start in music for the band. Now, a year and a half after the release of their self-titled project, Becca, Alyssa, and Lauren Barlow have readied Another Journal Entry, which is an amazing follow-up to their first offering. With rock numbers that rock harder and ballads more beautiful than anything on BarlowGirl, this trio has shown great growth and artistic discovery.
Another Journal Entry doesn't waste anytime getting down to business. Immediately it launches into "Grey." The song starts by proclaiming "Grey's my favorite color, black and white has never been my thing" before coming to the realization "I cannot be blind no more, numb to what I'm living for." "Grey" instantly displays how much the girls have grown and presents itself as a standout track through its punched up guitar work from Becca Barlow and upfront lyrics. Another rocker, "Let Go," ensues, which is also the first single from the album. Shortly down the way, BarlowGirl offers up their standout soft piano and string ballad "Porcelain Heart." Bassist/keyboardist Alyssa Barlow emotionally cries out "Were hearts made whole just to break...please mend this porcelain heart of mine." Though this is a memorable track, it wouldn't be a true BarlowGirl record without more likeable upbeat, rock-based numbers. BarlowGirl strikes back again with "5 Minutes of Fame," which notes the folly of compromising to earn more fame. Drummer Lauren Barlow was an excellent choice to sing lead here, adding that certain "quirky fun" element that the song wouldn't be complete without.
Based on the same Scripture passage, "Psalm 73 (My God's Enough)," is perhaps Another Journal Entry at its most aggressive. Todd Agnew makes a guest appearance here with his growling voice at work in the background. Agnew's contribution offers a different edge, especially on the chorus which is slightly reminiscent of the early Gregorian chants. Though his voice doesn't quite mix with those of the Barlow's, it still is enjoyable, exploring territory not treaded before by the band.
The majority of the songs from Another Journal Entry are original for this particular work (eight of the eleven are new) with a couple of worship favorites thrown in. "Enough," of Chris Tomlin fame, displays the girls beautiful harmonization abilities, keeping true to BarlowGirl's sound. A cover of David Crowder Band's "No One Like You" is a joyous celebration of who God is. BarlowGirl's own major hit "Never Alone" even gets slightly revamped with the radio remix fitting in the final page of this Entry.
Despite cute, bouncy numbers such as "Pedestal," "Superstar," and "Clothes" being fan favorites from BarlowGirl, anthems of this type will not be found here. Themes such as satisfaction in God alone ("Enough," "Psalm 73"), trusting Him ("Let Go"), and loving Him as well as being loved by Him ("Thoughts of You," "I Need You to Love Me") are key to the lyrical direction of Another Journal Entry. That's not to say this is in any way a letdown, rather this collection displays a new maturity and incredible growth in lyrics, music, and vocals since their debut.
Breaking new ground isn't a foreign concept for BarlowGirl. After all, this threesome broke down walls by successfully earning their way into Christian rock as the premier all-girl band. The release of Another Journal Entry should only help build on BarlowGirl's impressive start, as well as their growing fanbase. Without a doubt, an exciting future is in store for these three rocking sisters.- Review date: 9/16/05, written by Lauren Summerford
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