Unspoken, a band with a great story (which involves drug addiction and redemption, and ranges geographically from Maine all the way to the Dominican Republic), quietly had one of the biggest songs of the last few years with "Start A Fire" from their self-titled debut album. A song like that gives a band a certain latitude in recording their next album, and their follow up work, Follow Through, sounds as big and bold as the band could go. A funky, soulful affair reminiscent of Justin Timberlake's best outings and Maroon 5's tuneful, radio-friendly (that's not always a put-down) songs, Follow Through glides along smoothly and cleanly, packing a sonic punch in its fourteen songs.
It all starts with the soulful and expressive voice of lead singer Chad Mattson. With shades of the aforementioned Adam Levine and Justin Timberlake, Mattson possesses a fine set of pipes that weave in and out of octaves and take many of the songs to a different level. Album opener and first single "Higher" rolls out with choppy, saloon piano chords before a wall of horns kicks in to a funky groove and Mattson delivers a smooth, rhythmic vocal about praising God in difficult times. With a choral backdrop in the bridge and a great, groovy beat, "Higher" is a terrific opener.
"Open The Clouds" follows in similar fashion, with a R&B inflected texture and some impressive falsetto from Mattson. With a nod to the classic soul tune "People Get Ready," this song will start a dance party wherever it is played. "Miracle" serves as an encouraging song of perseverance with a charge to pray and "break till your breakthrough breaks through the ceiling." "Soldier" takes its cues from the old Sunday school song "I May Never March In The Infantry" (complete with a few "field recordings" of the song), and continues the theme of perseverance. The title track is a quieter, more reflective moment that finds the band at their most persuasive and heartfelt, with a prayer for lifelong perseverance.
"So Good To Me" may be the most interesting song sonically here, with a sliding vocal and staggered and stuttering chorus-verse-chorus structure, making the tune a standout on an already impressive group of songs. "Roots," one of the additions to the Deluxe Edition of Follow Through, is a terrific slow-groove gospel song, with an African backing choir (think Paul Simon's Graceland) and instrumental nods to that continent. With a celebration of the album's theme of "who" helps the believer persevere, "Roots" would have been a great closer, both musically and thematically.
With exceptional, tuneful songwriting (with nods to many current artists, like Pharrell Williams of "Happy" fame), solid performances and a whole lot of heart, Follow Through is a sophomore album that most bands would love to put out.
- Review date: 8/22/16, written by Alex Caldwell of Jesusfreakhideout.com