One of the best albums of 2003 came as summer drew to an end in the form of Shaun Groves' sophomore release Twilight. He had drawn much critical and audience acclaim through his debut two years prior, but Twilight was Groves' statement to the world that he was here to stay, and a force to be reckoned with. The future looked nothing but bright for Mr. Groves.
It would be hard to top Twilight. The overdone, cliché acoustic pop/rock formula that Groves made fresh and relevant had never sounded better, and his thought-provoking, brilliantly written lyrics stirred emotions in all who listened. However, Groves was the kind of artist for the task of outdoing not only his own personal high, but a landmark moment in recent CCM history.
That is why Groves' third release White Flag must be approached tenderly, because, on its own, it is a stellar album, and hold its own among this year's top releases. Even so, it appears to be a step back for Groves, if ever so slightly.
Though things are still slowed down from time to time, the overt sense is that this album is meant to rock just a little bit harder than previous efforts. The acoustic sense of Groves' previous two albums is replaced with more distortion and power chords. He still makes it his own, but the overall sound is a bit more generic than the usual unique sound Groves is capable of.
As for the many high points that make this one essential regardless of cynical gripes, songs like "Bless the Lord," "Amen," and "Only" show off the side of Shaun Groves that we know and love. They display the kind of maturing that you would expect from an artist on the caliber as Groves. "Bless the Lord" is a worship-filled cry out to all the nations to embrace the Lord and praise Him. Although a cover of an Among Thorns track, Groves makes it unique with his own special touch to the song. And "Amen" speaks of God's never ending grace with Groves' signature lyrical depth and insight.
Though it is still one of 2005's top releases, there is still a sense of disappointment. Perhaps it is ill-placed to expect a follow up to top one of the better CCM releases in recent memory. But regardless, Shaun Groves has put together another outstanding collection of songs that will have you tapping your feet and humming the words long after you have stopped listening.- Review date: 7/10/05, written by Josh Taylor
Record Label: Rocketown Records
Album length: 12 tracks, 45 minutes and 20 seconds
Street Date: July 12, 2005
Buy It: Amazon.com
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