Paige Armstrong is someone you should know. A cancer survivor at the age of eleven, she has now taken upon the task of leading her listeners to a full life in Christ. The bold 19-year-old's major label debut album, Wake Up, is a competent, quality first effort that manages to appeal despite sometimes seeming very familiar.
Armstrong's musical style can be described as a more technical Krystal Meyers. There are lots of crunchy rock guitars mixed in with some nice solos. Musically, Wake Up varies little both within itself and within its genre. Occasionally it does break the mold, such as with the funk guitar riff that opens "Episode," but that is not the trend. The majority of tracks are heavy with mildly catchy, fist-pumping melodies and climaxes. And naturally, there are one or two ballads to calm things down. The vocals are also very similar to Meyers and unfortunately don't quite stand out from the crowd. That said, they are solid and fit the music well.
Lyrical themes are clearly geared to the teenage crowd. Armstrong feels very strongly against apathy and this is apparent in several tracks. "The Story Song" is a clear reference to Armstrong's own struggles with cancer. "Airbrushed Magazines" addresses self-image. She also speaks out against going with the crowd in "Come Alive," and of course there are some tracks dealing with relationships. Everything is approached from a Biblical, God-honoring perspective, which is a big plus. However, within Christian music circles this is somewhat standard fare, once again drawing comparisons to previous artists in the genre.
At the risk of being repetitive, I found the biggest fault of Wake Up to be it's inability to rise above the rest of the genre. Everything from the music to the lyrics to the vocals sounds very familiar, because we've mostly heard it before. With the exception of some unexpected instrumental technicality, Wake Up is par for the course.
In the end, Wake Up is still a very enjoyable album. Fans of girl-driven edgy rock will find plenty to love here. Paige Armstrong is a worthy role model for teenagers looking for good music to listen to. Wake Up delivers solid, uncompromising rock that anyone can enjoy. It's not groundbreaking, but it is satisfying.- Review date: 10/6/09, written by Timothy Estabrooks of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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