"Wow, an all-acoustic EP by Anberlin!" I thought to myself as I pressed the purchase button on iTunes. After my first listen, however, I found myself a bit underwhelmed by this effort, but finding it to be an acceptable collection nonetheless.
The EP kicks off with "The Unwinding Cable Car." It sounds very similar to the Cities version, but with the addition of Christian McAlhaney, the newest member to Anberlin, on backing vocals. His voice is much deeper than lead singer Stephen Christian's, but they both work well to create a good vocal sound. Another difference is the fact that there is no percussion on the track. I realize that this is an acoustic track, but the absence of drums on the track left something to be desired, like some vital attribute was missing.
Next up is "A Day Late," which Stephen Christian misquotes as "A Day Late Friend" in the oral introduction. Speaking of which, this track and "Paperthin Hymn" both begin with a little intro describing the song, which comes off as if he poorly made them up on the spot. They are very unnecessary, and the track would have begun fine without them. But anyway, it was refreshing to hear a good acoustic version of "A Day Late," (as the Lost Songs version did not sound good at all). It is definitely a highlight of the four songs.
Cities' "Inevitable" comes third. It makes an appearance as a "stripped down" version of the CD version, and it seems more personal; the emotion in Christian's voice especially shines. While the original Cities version is excellent itself, this version displays a special sense of passion that only an acoustic version such as this could exhibit.
The EP closes with "Paperthin Hymn." Besides the already-established unneeded intro, it was apparent to me that it lacked the power and energy that the Never Take Friendship Personal version had. While "Inevitable" benefited from a softer rendition, "Paperthin Hymn" was not meant for such treatment. Maybe I am too used to the original, but the acoustic guitars just cannot accomplish the same effect that grinding electric guitars have on the track. Nevertheless, it is a decent attempt, and it is nice to finally see what the track would sound like acoustic.
All in all, this EP is very much an appetizer, a good "snacker" for what Anberlin will release next. The band can achieve the acoustic effect very well, if they apply it to the right songs. You may not listen to this one much, but for what it is worth, this EP is a nice listen and has a place in Anberlin's catalog.- Review date: 5/12/08, written by Roger Gelwicks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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