THE SOUND OPTION WITH MARCUS HATHCOCK
#6 - Safe or Real?
Chart-toppers SafetySuit have much in common with CCM's seminal rockers Sanctus Real.
 


Happy New Year! I’m so glad to be getting back into the groove of things—literally and figuratively—and bringing you an all-new installment of The Sound Option. If you have a suggestion of a mainstream band you’d like to see compared, shoot an e-mail to info@newreleasetuesday.com and we’ll try to oblige.
 
SAFETYSUIT & SANCTUS REAL
 
Pop/rock back SafetySuit is taking America by storm. After a debut album on Universal Republic Records that received critical acclaim, the Tulsa-based quartet has leveled-up with Life Left to Go—their Jan. 3 sophomore release. In just a few weeks, the album has become the No. 2 Digital Album, the No. 3 Rock Album and No. 7 overall album on the Billboard charts.
 
The songs feature the passionate, Ryan-Tedder-meets-Chad-Kroeger vocals of Doug Brown, accompanied by the kind of rock/dance-beat fusion that made OneRepublic a household name. (It’s no surprise to discover that Life Left to Go was produced by OneRepublic’s frontman, Tedder.)
 
The band, which formed in the early 2000s at the Pentecostal Christian college Oral Roberts University, undoubtedly has a Christian background, and that ethic finds its way onto Life Left to Go
 
There are no references to God or Jesus on this album—although the song “Life in the Pain” invites someone to “try their hand at faith.” Conversely, “These Times” talks ambiguously about “failing” in a relentless pursuit of an unnamed dream. Overall, though, there is nothing terribly troubling about SafetySuit lyrically and thematically. The regular fare of romantic relationships is served up in a majority of SafetySuit’s songs, but it’s either in the form of gushing or lamenting—nothing inappropriate. 
 
Upon hearing this band, I immediately was wowed at the similarities to the stylings of one of Christian music's seminal rock groups, Sanctus Real. Brown’s dramatic, pure tenor rock vocals are jarringly comparable to frontman Matt Hammitt’s. 
 
Lyrically, though, Sanctus Real provides contemplation beyond relationships and dreams. On the band’s most recent release, Pieces of a Real Heart, topics include struggling with the inequities of life (“These Things Take Time”), turning to God instead of chasing fruitless passions (“The Way the World Turns”—seemingly the opposite of SafetySuit’s “These Times”), being a present father and husband (“Lead Me”), hope despite loss (“Dreamer”), the relief of peace with God (“Forgiven”), declaring one’s own brokenness and need for divine intervention (“Take Over Me”) and the unreliability of human desires (“Dear Heart”), among others.
 
SafetySuit fans will especially resonate with the Pieces tracks “The Way the World Turns”, “Take Over Me”, “I Want to Get Lost”, “’Til I Got to Know You” and “Keep My Heart Alive.”
 
Several tracks on SafetySuit’s Life Left to Live feature a hip-hop beat beneath the band’s rock stylings—something you won’t find on any Sanctus Real album—which begs the question: When is Sanctus Real going to release a remix album, where their already strong songs get the OneRepublic treatment? That could be amazing. 
 
But for the passionate pop/rock with the hopeful truth of the Gospel, Sanctus Real has the edge—pulling no punches musically, lyrically and thematically. Fans of SafetySuit looking for a little more substance will be more than pleased with Sanctus Real.
 
MORE SOUND OPTIONS...

NRT Senior Editor Marcus Hathcock has been a newspaper reporter, an editor and now Communications Director for East Hill Church in Gresham, OR. He's also been involved in opera, acappella, a CCM group and now is a songwriter and one of the worship leaders at East Hill. Follow his journey at www.mheternal.com.

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