REVIEW OF SALVADOR'S "MAKE SOME NOISE" ALBUM
Salvador is a breath of fresh air. There is such a waff of rock and alternative-rock acts in today's Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) that it is titillating towards a saturation point where it is now difficult to tell one artist apart from another. Salvador, a seven-piece band that hails from Austin Texas, has never been just another CCM clone. Mixing their roots in Latin funk with their brand of CCM, they have created a hybrid that has worked well in making them a hit-band in the genre as well as in the Spanish Christian music market. Ever since their self-titled debut disc, they have garnered for themselves radio favorites such as "Lord I Come before You," "Can't Keep It In,""Heaven," "Crucified," "Cry Holy" and "Breathing Life." And as an affirmation of their esteemed status within the Spanish Christian music arena they were awarded "Best Spanish Album of the Year" at the 2004 Dove Awards for "Con Poder." However, over the years, in an effort to accommodate changing trends, Salvador has stylistically evolved to embrace elements of heavy rock, hip hop and jam band rhythms into their music. As a result they have lost themselves in the jumble of the musical mess. Four years of hiatus since their last album "Aware," they are finally back. Refreshed and energised, Salvador has decided to return back to the dance that first brought them to the ball. On "Make Some Noise" they have decided to make a laser straight line back to their debut record where funk and good old fashion rock take the front seat again.
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There is a sepia tone nostalgic patina glazed over the entire record. Save for a few radio targeted singles-to-be, "Make Some Noise" harkens back to Motown funk of the late 70s and the early 80s where horns and the brass band undergird the sonic vibe of the disc. And to add flavor to the album's marinated funk is that Salvador's front man Nic Gonzales has an uncanny tenor reminisce of Lionel Richie calling to mind the Commodores in their hey days. The title cut "Make Some Noise" pays absolutely no attention to the beeps of today's music. Rather, it is a joyous funky ode of celebration of the Lord with horns exploding, guitars cracking and trumpets dancing all around. If you have never experience how the Spanish can celebrate take a listen to Tex-Mex "Este Corito" (one of two Spanish songs on the disc; the other being "Tirate" which has a Spanish chorus with English verses). And the boys really are on overdrive with a cover of Steve Winwood's number one hit "Higher Love." This is vintage 80s bliss with no concession to modernize the song; Nic Gonzales is to be congratulated for giving this song which longs for a transcendent love a Christian spin.
The absolute gem on this record has to be "Not Alone." While most of the songs on this record have an upbeat celebratory tenor, "Not Alone" finds the boys in their contemplative best. A simple but affecting ballad; "Not Alone" finds Nic Gonzales stepping into the shoes of the writer of Psalm 8 as he reflects with thanks God's attentive care of His creation especially us human beings. This is one of those treasured songs that really speak God's presence when we are afraid. There are other more praise and worship moments with the Hilsong-esque "Deeper Love" and album's lead single "God of Forever." With the latter, despite the song's sweeping radio friendly hooks and Gonzales' passionate delivery, the song flounders on its overwrought clichés about shooing stars and God wiping away our tears. Much better is the popish "Better Man" which testifies to the re-generative power of the Spirit working in our lives to sanctify us.
If you feel like there is a lack of "soul" in today's Christian music, take a listen to "Inside Out." There is a silky Luther Vandross feel to this 70s-sounding R&B ballad. Carefully crafted with effective use of brass and horns, it certainly does not take away the severity of the song's message. With a heart broken ache towards the social ills of today, Salvador knows that panache lies not in more social policies but with the transformation of the heart. All in all, "Make Some Noise" is a wonderful return to form. It's pure Christian funk with dashes of soul, pop and blues. With a disc so good, they definitely have reasons to make joyful noises to the Lord.
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