If you listen to any kind of contemporary Christian radio, you have more than likely heard of Addison Road, and, more specifically, their popular radio hits, "Hope Now" and "All That Matters." In fact, the rate of acceptance for the five-piece band from Texas was almost sensational. The band's fun, energetic self-titled debut has now added plenty of hype for Addison Road's sophomore project, Stories.
Regardless of how you felt about Addison Road's debut, it's safe to say that Stories avoids the dreaded sophomore slump. The easy, unrefined pop sound that the band offered on their debut has matured production-wise on Stories, but the band doesn't really break new ground. But, to be fair, the group markets their music more to contemporary radio crowds than those seeking an innovative experience. While catchy songs like "Sticking With You" and "This Could Be Our Day" were commonplace on their first album, there are only three such catchy tunes on Stories. The first of these songs is also the opening song on the album, "Fight Another Day," which was wisely chosen as their first single thanks to its upbeat tune. It's not surprising that TobyMac originally wrote the song since a simple subtraction of the harmonica in the song and the addition of more intense beats would land the track on Toby's latest project. The other two songs, "Won't Let Me Go" and "Don't Wait" are both fun pop/rock tunes and will probably make radio in the future. The rest of the album consists of softer pop songs and what feels to be too many ballads. "This Little Light" stands on lead-singer Jenny Simmons's emotional vocals to carry it, but "Need You Now" is fueled by a very similar sound.
The actual stories that the band shares with their listeners happen to be pretty non-specific. Not that it's a problem, of course, but it is frustrating that Addison Road doesn't even approach Stories with a diverse set of themes. Over the course of three songs, the group encourages their listeners to live each day like it's our last ("Fight Another Day," "This Little Light", and "Don't Wait") while also spending considerable time on the singer's dependence on God. This, also, is not a problem, but considering the bands' album title, I was hoping for more in-depth lyrics rather than soft hearted messages directed at the airwaves. Throw in the cringe-inducing lyrics in "This Little Light" and the cliché-sounding lyrics of "Need You Now" ("Now, this is where I stand/Here, with my outstretched hands/Now, I'm giving you everything now") and you are left with some pretty run-of-the-mill messages. However, despite the two aforementioned songs, the lyrics overall are solid.
There are two ways to look at this album. The first is to see a more seasoned album than the band's self-titled and to gush over Addison Road's compelling lyrics. The second is notice the group's contemporary slide, and write off the album as an unoriginal, unchallenging pop project. In truth though, Stories is a release that is easy to listen to and just a little bit too easy to forget. Those seeking a more acoustic venture should check out Lanae' Hale's 2009 album, Back & Forth, while those wanting a more adventurous synthpop journey should look up Charmaine's Love Reality. I would only recommend Stories for those who are seeking a fun, but simple, encouraging, pop/rock album.- PReview date: 5/13/10, Review date: 6/20/10, written by Nathaniel Schexnayder of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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