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Burlap to Cashmere, 'Anybody Out There?'

Burlap to Cashmere
Anybody Out There?

Genre(s): Acoustic Pop / Pop Rock / Alternative
Album length: 12 tracks: 47 minutes, 29 seconds
Street Date: October 27, 1998


Burlap to Cashmere's debut Anybody Out There? was a revelation. Their debut on the Christian music scene in 1998 was a flash of brilliance, a eureka moment for the CCM industry just blossoming with new buds of creativity. It's also true that it has rarely been equaled since. So infrequent is it that an artist is so appropriately branded as "other," that any description of them is fumbling and futile -- and in your excited frustration to spread the word you blurt, "You just gotta hear it!"

Acoustic guitar-based with an emphasis on energetic Greek and flamenco stylings, paired with strong percussion, meant that Burlap was a sight, and sound, to behold. A great regret for this reviewer is not ever having experienced their electrifying show firsthand. Indeed, it has been said (and I believe it) that they sound just as good live as on the recorded album. High praise to be sure.

Beyond being fresh in sound and fantastic on their instruments, what else does Anybody Out There? excel at? Well, lyrically, it straddles the line between relational and devotional, as well as balancing the made-for-radio tracks with a creative bent leaving plenty to discover in the deep cuts. For instance, the frenetic and yet accessible "Basic Instructions," and the ballad "Treasures in Heaven," are likely the two best-known on the tracklist, but I would say they are far from the best offerings.

To be sure, they effectively serve their purpose to hook listeners in. All the while, they masterfully direct attention to the true "cream," like the two tunes sandwiched between them in "Chop Chop" and the slow burn title track. Additionally, "Skin is Burning," "Divorce," and "Scenes" round out a stellar middle of the album. Each of the aforementioned takes time to set things up with ebbs and flows while leaving room for instrumental sections and eschewing exhaustingly long runtimes. A feat easier said than done.

This might be the most impressive trait of the album, a band masterful at their instruments feeling no pressure to cram a song full of words, confidently allowing the music itself to paint the picture. For a genre perhaps best known for message over musicianship, this is a refreshing difference that undoubtedly sets it a cut above. Modern CCM would do well to take note and seek to emulate.

Once a one-hit-wonder, thankfully Burlap did make it back together to record two subsequent, and nearly equal, albums in 2011 and 2020. But, for my money, Anybody Out There? remains their best. It's an enduring five-star gem of my 90s-era collection that has aged tremendously well. This is an absolute must of the genre, and not to be missed!

- Review date: 1/11/23, written by Josh Balogh of

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. Record Label: A&M Records
. Album length: 12 tracks: 47 minutes, 29 seconds
. Street Date: October 27, 1998
. Buy It: (CD)
. Buy It: (Cassette)
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. Digee Dime (3:09)
  2. Eileen's Song (4:09)
  3. Basic Instructions (3:59)
  4. Chop Chop (3:46)
  5. Anybody Out There? (4:18)
  6. Treasures in Heaven (4:28)
  7. Skin Is Burning (3:46)
  8. Divorce (4:53)
  9. Good Man (3:54)
  10. Scenes (4:05)
  11. Ancient Man (3:04)
  12. Mansions (3:58)



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