By Jenny Bennett for GospelMusicChannel.com
There's a reason classic rock is named as such: it really never goes out of style. But VOTA, formerly known as Casting Pearls, has recently made some smart changes, not limited to a new name, that compliment that classic ingredient. The group is starting fresh (to avoid any confusion with Casting Crowns), entering the scene with a new guitarist, a new record deal (INO), and an innovative album to match their new identity.
Initially discovered by newsboys' Peter Furler and signed to Inpop, Casting Pearls was no stranger to a high level of professionalism when they debuted in 2005. But with their newfound commitment to great art, the result is an even stronger, even more musically interesting collection of songs.
With songs like "Be Mine," an upbeat love song (could be spiritual or personal) showing off a mixture of Queen-like musicianship and a creative new sound, tied together with strong spiritual content, the self-titled album is altogether an emotive blend of new and classic rock.
At times the songs ("Not Finished" or "I'll Go") sound like an Aerosmith or Christian music's GRAMMY-winning DecembeRadio, and at others, the magnetic, high-energy, almost tongue-and-cheek quality of George Michael or Queen in the late '80s comes through on tracks like "Hard to Believe" or the soulful instrumentals of the ballad "Honestly."
A decisively spiritual element is expressed throughout much of the album and is never stronger than in the quieter moments: "...honestly...If you don't see the real me, you won't see what grace has done. If you don't see my weakness, you won't see what love has won. If you don't see the distance from the darkness to the Son (sun), you won't see..."
Worshipful moments come unexpectedly too, on the edgier songs like "Bye Bye": Come fill my heart, come fill my soul, come bring me peace, give me life, make me whole.
Still at other times, the sound reminds me faintly of two of the more talked-about groups in Christian music in 2008 - The Afters ("Give It To Me") and GRAMMY-nominated After Edmund ("Save Ourselves").
On the landing page for castingpearls.com a message to the fans states: "What if the end was just the beginning? (the opening line from "Free to Fall")...Join us as we write the next chapter of our music."
This album is enough to convince me to do just that.
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