From the opening chord of "Can't Find a Way Out" to the closing line ("You still help me see how life will get better and the darkness it will not last forever.") of "My Home," the album never really misses. Channeling bands like New Found Glory (and even Sum-41's thrashy side), Hauge has put together an impressive collection of thirteen songs. Excellent guitar hooks like in "This Will Get Us Nowhere" can be found throughout, and thrash metal breakdowns like the one found in "Never Find Me" can't help but make you smile. Musically, the album just never misses. It's full of high-energy bangers, but also contains some slower, more poignant moments. The flow works so well, but just when you think you're running out of new sounds, Hauge hits you with a solo like the one in "Throw Me to the Wolves" and you're immediately sucked back in. I could honestly gush on and on about my favorite musical moments in each song, but I'll leave it at "it's VERY good."
Lyrically, the album is uplifting and very spiritually-minded. Even songs about relationships, like "Let This Go," take a very Christ-like approach to disagreement. In a world where we are inundated with the idea of having to be right, a song like this approaches things from a different world view. "Take Away My Fear" recognizes living with flaws, failures, and denial, but features Hauge calling out in prayer, "Oh My Savior, please take away my fear," in the chorus and really hits in the bridge with, "I've grown tired of the wretched mess I'm in. Save my broken soul; rewrite my story." Moments of realness and hope can be found throughout the entire album. Most importantly, the lyrics come across as sincere and real without sounding cliché and overdone. Honesty is a great way to describe every inch of this album.
Out of Isolation is a perfect snapshot of mid-2000's punk rock, but manages to feel new and fresh at the same time. It's a familiar sound that is so comforting, but Hauge manages to put a slightly new spin on it. You can clearly hear sections that will remind you of a particular band (NFG comes to mind most of all -- Sam even has a similar vocal style and melodies to Jordan Pundik), but it never feels like a rehash of someone else's work. "Make It Very Far" even brings shades of early Relient K to the table. It's really the best parts of the pop/punk and easycore scene of that time blended into one incredible album. I, for one, have been stoked over this mini pop/punk revival we've been experiencing in recent years. There has been a lot of good music coming out in this style, but Sam Hauge has just released a scene masterpiece in 2023. Out of Isolation brings joy on every level and I would be hard pressed to find any true negative critiques of this album. Do yourself a favor and check this one out immediately.- Review date: 5/1/23, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: None
Sam Hauge: Musically, they were definitely a huge influence! I've always loved both pop and metal equally, so I'm very inspired by bands that can do songs with metal riffs and guitar solos, and also have pop leaning vocal melodies and harmonies.
Sam: Thank you! Some of the songs were written as far back as 10 years ago, and some are more recent. The work I did on these specific songs was very scattered over the years, so it's hard to pinpoint exactly. But there is almost never a time when I'm not working on a song idea!
Sam: The lyrics come from a desire to not fight over meaningless things. In my experience, a lot of relational conflict is mostly due to selfishness. So it's about wanting to break that pattern. Musically, this song fully embraces the pop-punk side of my sound, which makes it a lot of fun! I was definitely trying to capture the feeling I get when listening to my favorite albums.
Sam: As is probably true for most songwriters, I tend to pull inspiration from multiple places. It's often a combination of real-life experience, a situation I observed from afar, or an event from a fictional story. All of those things can creep in when trying to shape a song.
For "Let This Go," a lot of it came from my fascination with band breakups. Many bands I love have broken up at some point over the years, and it's always been intriguing to me to watch it play out. After all the time and effort put into building something together, how do you decide to tear it all down? Often, the blame gets placed on a specific member, and people take sides. I was exploring that mindset, but I love that the song can be applied to many scenarios.
Sam: I try to write music that I want to hear, and this is the lyric style I was always drawn to. That's another area where bands like Relient K and Skillet have been a big influence. It's very important to me to express hope in the midst of struggle, as a reminder to both myself and any listener. There was certainly a lot of effort put into these lyrics!
Sam: These days, there is so much media to consume that it really feels like an impossible task to cut through the noise. The fact that anyone has heard the album and likes it is a huge blessing, and I am beyond grateful! The response has been very encouraging so far.
Sam: There are obviously a lot of practical issues that come with hiring a band and being able to travel consistently. I think it's likely that I will perform live at some point, especially if I write some acoustic songs. But for this season of my life, I really want to write and record as many good songs as I possibly can. So that's where my focus will be in the immediate future. I believe God will open the right doors whenever he sees fit!
Sam: Fear and uncertainty are common themes in my songs, so one passage that I try to keep in the front of my mind at all times is Philippians 4:6-7:
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I'm also encouraged by all of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Proverbs for the practical wisdom, and Ecclesiastes for the blunt honesty. It's comforting to see the search for meaning expressed so clearly.
One lesson God has been teaching me is to let go of my expectations and my desire to control the outcomes. There's a healthy tension between knowing we have to work hard each day at the job we're given, and also knowing we don't have ultimate control. Even in regard to the music I release, I have no control over how people will react, or if anyone will care enough to listen. It's a relief that I can leave that in God's hands!
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