Sanctus Real is set to release Changed, their eighth career album on April 27 (Framework Records). Changed, which can be pre-ordered now, is the follow-up to their 2014 release, Dream. The band's latest single to hit radio is "Confidence," which is also an instant grat song for every Changed pre-order.
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What You Need To Know:
Sanctus Real became industry mainstays after several albums of tight rock and pop offerings. Over time, the "rock" side of things decreased with every album as the band matured. When The Dream came out 4 years ago, there was hardly a trace left of the powerhouse rock sound that drove hits like "Everything About You" and "I'm Not Alright" to no. 1 hits. The band's softer side boasted its own share of hits as well, such as the moving "Lead Me" or the driving "Promises."
When lead vocalist Matt Hammitt stepped down from the band the next year, it left the band's future identity up in the air. Enter Dustin Lolli, who stormed the scene with an engaging new single that led to a 3-song EP hinting at the band's new sound. While we've gotten some singles these past few years, it's only just now that we're finally getting to hear a full-length offering from the new Sanctus Real.
What It Sounds Like:
Listeners should go in knowing that this does not deliver the rock of Sanctus Real's past. Early lead singles promised a soft pop CCM radio play, and the album largely delivers. The talent behind Sanctus Real works to the band's benefit. Many of these songs are potential radio classics in the making. Single "Confidence" is among the catchiest choruses the band has ever produced, and "Hello Love" promises to be a worthy successor. Dustin Lolli's voice is deeper and softer than Hammitt's, carrying a 90's-esque CCM feel that adds richness to many of the tunes. Songs that could otherwise feel too generic are given some life. The band has not fully embraced the "epic" feel of "This is Love," although "Hide and Seek" gives us a taste of such a direction. "Survival" carries just a hint of an edge that shows that the Sanctus Real boys do still have access to the rock fire, even if they aren't currently utilizing it.
There is a lot to love here, and a lot of talent. As CCM albums go, while some of the songs may not be as memorable as others, this is a standout. It rarely feels like the Sanctus Real of the past, but it's easy to picture Matt Hammitt singing many of these tunes, and this is also a near relative of what the band had been doing toward the end of the Hammitt era. Perhaps on the early Sanctus Real sound, the book is indeed closed. And this new chapter isn't totally without its excitement.
One thing Sanctus Real always did well was craft vertical songs that were unashamed in their faith. On that front, nothing has changed. "Confidence" uses Old Testament figures to ask God for strength to meet trials, while other songs declare God's greatness, how He works in our lives and how He safeguards us. Some of the more profound aspects of relationships and of our brokenness don't get the attention past releases have had, and thus many of the (still commendable) lyrical numbers are not as challenging. Still, positive themes carry the album to recommendable status.
Best Song on the Album:
"Confidence" is catchy and classic and an excellent choice to promote the album.