Album Review: Fearless- Group 1 Crew

If it seems like it’s been a long time since you heard from Group 1 Crew, it has.

The crew is back with Fearless, one of its most genre-bending, infectious efforts to date.

According to its website, the group, which consisted of Blanca Reyes (lead vocals), Manwell Reyes (vocals and rap), Pablo Villatoro (vocals and rap) and Ben Callahan (background vocals and percussion), had been on a hiatus of sorts because they were going through growing pains.

In the past couple of years,  Blanca’s father died; she  married Ben  and the Pablo left the group.

Blanca said, “One of the main changes personally is balancing being married with going on the road, and professionally, that we went from a trio to a duo.”

“That was a very scary transition as we waited to see what God had in store for Group 1 Crew after, plus right around that time, I also lost my father. So there were certainly some big tribulations and hurdles we went through, but also some really great things like marriage, all of which really added to the record and gave Fearless a lot of heart.”

These upheavals left the group wondering whether or not to go on.

Manwell said,  “Throughout all the soul-searching, we found a sense of purpose, realizing the group wasn’t just a group of convenience, but of necessity. We’ve been on the road playing music and filling voids for a lot of people. We’ve had so many people tell us that they found us to be a breath of fresh air, which made us feel like we have a sense of duty to continue.”

After deciding to press on, the group focused its energy on creating, Fearless.

Here’s what you can expect on the album.

His Kind Of Love opens the album to a promising start. It’s a mid-tempo song with lovely arrangement.We hear Manwell sing, not rap, in this song which is actually refreshing because he is a good singer. Blanca also sings passionately on the song. This track deals with the question, “How does one fully comprehend, describe, explain and sing about God’s kind of love?”

The Difference is the first dance song on the album,and it is the best in my opinion. The blend of Blanca and Manwell’s voice on this well-produced track make it a fun song. On top of all that,  it still manages to possess a positive gospel message.

He Said, the chart-topping first single from the album, is a pop song with good melodies and flow. It focuses on remembering what God said– His promises and how He won’t give us more that we could take. The track is a departure from what G1C is best known for, but with the help of Chris August who sings on the second verse, they soar.

G1C fans will love Dangerous. It’s an example of the G1C we all know and love. Everything, from the title of the song to the beats and Manwell’s delivery, meld nicely.  The hip-hop beats and fresh urban vibes of G1C tell us to live dangerously for Christ; risk it all for Christ and be more like Him.

Going Down will make you want to “get crunk.” The song has the sick flow of Dirty South hip-hop. I can see a lot of folks two stepping to this one. Who says just cos you are a Christian you can’t have fun and two-step a little for yourself and for God’s glory.

The album title track Fearless is indeed fearless and fierce. It’s one of the most powerful songs on the album. It could easily be an anthem for Christian soldiers ready who march fearlessly into the battle field of  life. The only thing that would’ve made the song more powerful, in my opinion, is if there was another guest vocalist or a mass choir that chimed in at the end.

Mr. & Mrs. ( I Do This For You) is an easy-going song about relationships, building a home and sacrificing for a better friendship and relationship. Unfortunately it is one of the songs that doesn’t really stand out for some strange reason.

Darkest Valley features Flame and Thomas Ware; it is a rap song about walking through some of life’s darkest valleys and having Jesus save us and bring light to our lives.  Manwell raps “I lived a life of hell then I got saved.”  It’s a good effort, but the song  falls short due to arrangement and production issues.

Not The End of Me is a song about moving on after  bad relationships. Sometimes people come into our lives and somehow things don’t work out so you have to pick yourself up and move on because it is all a part of God’s plan. Considering the tough few years they had this song must be a really personal one for G1C.

Freq Dat and Night of My Life are both dance songs reminiscent of  of the Black Eyed Peas. Though the songs could’ve been great and added to the album, they don’t; they seemed rushed and ended up seeming cheesy.

Though Freq Dat and Night of My Life had me scratching my head, I can forgive G1C, because of the next track, Stepping Out.  Stepping Out encourages us to take a step and let things flow; if we fail and fall it is all in God’s hands, so let go and let God. Blanca does all the singing in this song and Manwell harmonizes and sings backup.

The urban uplifting song Forsaken closes the album with the message of trusting God’s grace and knowing that he has our back.

In conclusion Fearless is an happy, fun, easy-going urban album with a lot of great messages. The album has no “in-betweeners;” the songs are either exceptionally good or exceptionally cliché and cheesy. Fearless is not a mind-blowing album but nonetheless an enjoyable record which will get a lot of air-play and probably snag a few awards.

Best Songs

Fearless

He Said

His Kind of Love

Stepping Out

Forsaken

Going Down

 

ALBUM REVIEW: CHRIS AUGUST – THE UPSIDE OF DOWN

Chris August is back with another album after the successful 2010 “No Far Away” which really placed him out there in the genre of Christian music earning him 3 Dove awards. Usually especially after such an a brilliant debut album artists usually tend to slow down or disappoint with the follow-up album but not for certain folks and Chris August has just fallen into that category because The Upside of Down sure does live up to his debut and to me even surpasses No Far Away.

I remember hearing the album title track Upside of Down during rush hour which I always kick against but just could not wait to hear Chris’ new song and I remember the disappointment I felt after hearing it, it sounded like a nursery rhythm when I first heard it and then I listened again when I got home and relaxed and the feeling didn’t change. See what I failed to experience or get into was the depth of the lyrics, however my interest in the project reduced because I felt it wouldn’t live up to the old record. And then I heard the Chris and Group 1 Crew song and it rekindled my interest in the project. So I went on and when Chris started previewing the songs on the album I became a full-blown fan once again and all of a sudden I fell in love with the first single after repeatedly listening to it, it grew on me and now its a song I actually vibe to and really like it. It tells the story way too common about most of us; the story of us being fair weather Christians.

The album starts with Center of It which is my least favourite song on the album, jump to track 3 a song called Amen and can I just say that is has become my all time favorite Chris August song and I hope he makes it the next single so yes it is that beautiful. Guitar chords similar to John Mayer’s are present in this song and then there is black gospel music elements all over the song, he did justice to the song. And from here on to the end of the album is a progression of one beautiful song to another laced with powerful messages focused on faith, restoration, change and hope. This Side of Heaven  is another song that shows great lyrical depth from Chris August. Restore is a song about restoration and hope for broken relationships, troubled marriages another subject very common today, and he croons “God is God who knows how t heal, just give it to him and he will restore”. Unashamed of You celebrates one’s love for Jesus and not being ashamed of the gospel and Jesus. The album is just the perfect album for christian with shaky faith, growing faith and new converts.

It is one of those nice to have album , I have been listening to it non stop since I got it. Do I think it is better than the first album? Yes I do, because most of the songs are very likable and easy to relate to. The singing however is average I felt he didn’t really push himself on the album. He played it safe but the song writing and production has really matured a lot from the last album, the arrangements  is just amazing. And he has the most interesting titles when it comes to album titles.

So yes you should get this album, I think it is one of the most amazing christian albums out this year.

BEST TRACKS

Amen

I Believe

Water Into Wine

A little More Of Jesus

Restore

Truth Is Still True

The Upside of Down