If Patrick Andrew is the introspective force behind PFR, Joel Hanson is the inspirational force. Hanson has always had a knack for writing simple, yet catchy guitar driven music with positive, poetic lyrics. Most of his previous work has centered around the love and grace of God, and that doesn't change here. What does change is the medium in which Hanson conveys his messages, as he shifts toward a worship platform. The change in style is subtle, partially because he doesn't completely leave the pop arena, but it is significant nonetheless, as it actually plays more to Hanson's songwriting strengths.
Any song on this album could be a hit on inspirational radio. "Still Greater," an upbeat worship song, should be played in churches across the nation every Sunday, while "Count the Ways" and "Thanks Be to God" are typical Hanson ballads, toned down and alluring. The title track "Broken," a ballad in the vein of "Missing Love," a song from Hanson's last solo effort Captured, deals with letting God shape us and mold us through lyrics such as "My pride/ shatter away/ take it far from me/ your will your way/ broken I'm free." Another song, "Make Things Right," is a great rocker and perhaps the song on the album that most resembles PFR's sound.
Even though Hanson has an uncanny ability to consistently write amazingly beautiful songs, it quickly becomes obvious that he ends up recycling song themes. It would be nice to see Hanson stretch himself by digging into some of the more human elements of life from time to time and singing more about some his immediate life experiences. After listening to both Broken and Patrick Andrew's solo album There And Then It's Gone, it seems like Hanson and Andrew make music best when they team up as PFR because they tend to balance out each other's musical shortcomings perfectly. Despite its flaws, Broken is still an album that should be on the shelf of anyone who considers themselves a fan of PFR.- Review date: 6/19/05, written by Jason Ingersoll
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