|Upbeat and Unafraid | Posted January 28, 2013
One of the more soft spoken groups in Christian music, VOTA emerged on the scene back in 2005 under the moniker Casting Pearls. After a name change, a label switch and charting a top 10 radio hit, the band released their self-titled album back in 2008, and soon found themselves on the road with the likes of BarlowGirl, Newsboys and Tenth Avenue North.
With a five year musical absence, minus some sporadic touring, many began to wonder if the group was still around. Fans of the pop/rock quartet rejoiced however, when they announced a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next project in late 2011, their side-splitting plea for funds winning over viewers instantly. (It can be seen at this link
, and is well worth three minutes of your time.)
Having met their goal and spent the 12 months in the studio, VOTA's long awaited follow-up, God Of The Universe, finally made its appearance in early 2013.
"God Of The Universe" is up first and lays a bouncy and worshipful foundation for what's to come. "Lift Me Up" tinkers with the modern sounds of electro pop, and does so in fantastic fashion, it being the strongest cut on the record. Lead vocalist Bryan Olesen channels hues of Maroon 5's Adam Levine in this heartfelt cry for God to rid us of selfishness and fill us with more of Himself.
"Learning To Dream" leans more towards the radio friendly contemporary stylings found on their debut, while the project's agname, "Love Found Me," brings things down with a moving ballad, recounting the life-saving rescue mission our Savior endured on our behalf: "I couldn't call life normal when death just made a joke of life / Nowhere to go, no one to turn to / You came and saved me, You are my rescue."
Lyrically gripping, "Show Me What I've Got" tells the tale of a father getting so caught up in the trivial pursuits of life, that he unbeknowingly neglects his daughter. The song comes to the convicting conclusion that work we strive for on earth will pass away, but the time we're given with loved ones can be an eternal investment.
The spunky Britt pop track "Blame Me" picks up the speed on the project once again and sends a blunt message on self-righteousness: "I heard her talking, I was like a fly on the wall / If words were arrows, so many people would fall / Say something nice or don't say nothin' at all."
"Open Up The Sky" and "You Alone" play mid-tempo reverential roles on the album, tying up the diverse mix of styles and sounds throughout the album. "Keep Me Where You Are" could almost be heard as a softer version of the previous track "Lift Me Up," delivering the same message with a more worshipful vibe.
"Crying Out" is one of the most brutal songs I've heard in a very long time, coming as a heartbroken plea for God to meet us in the middle of our confusion. It's a hard song to swallow, seeing as it takes a few cynical jabs at biblical truths, but in the end, it's relatable to listeners facing painstaking trial. Turning one final corner, the album closes with the hopeful "Come To Me," a powerful song of worship with the verses paraphrased from scripture.
One thing I've always admired about VOTA is that they aren't afraid to say things in their music some others may not, God Of The Universe being no exception. While there are some points in the album it will be tough to see eye-to-eye with lyrically, there is no arguing the massive amount of maturity the band went through the last several years songwriting wise. Full of fun upbeat pop songs, moving ballads and the occasional lighthearted rock track, this is VOTA's finest effort yet and was well worth the lengthy wait.
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