Album Review :
Hawk Nelson - Crazy Love (Plus The Light Sides)

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Band: Hawk Nelson

Title: Crazy Love (Plus The Light Sides)

Label: BEC Records/Tooth & Nail

Release Date: February 8th, 2011

Reviewer: Joshua Clark

Tracklisting:

Disc 1:

  1. Tally-Ho
  2. Your Love Is A Mystery
  3. Crazy Love
  4. My Next Breath
  5. We’re Alright
  6. Skeleton
  7. We Can Change The World
  8. One Shot
  9. Fraud
  10. Joanna
  11. LAX
  12. Done Holding On
  13. Thanks For The Beautiful Memories

Disc 2:

  1. California
  2. Friend Like That
  3. Zero
  4. Stagefright
  5. First Time
  6. You Have What I Need
  7. Everything You Ever Wanted
  8. Head On Collision
  9. Long Ago
  10. Take Me
  11. 36 Days

This is a review on the two-disc edition of Hawk Nelson’s newest album Crazy Love. The first part of the review is disc one, which is the brand new album Crazy Love. After that is the review of disc two, The Light Sides. This album is 11 acoustic tracks from the bands previous four albums.

Disc 1: Crazy Love

Hawk Nelson is a band who has been releasing albums at a fast rate, with Crazy Love being the 5th studio album in under seven years. I’ll start this off by saying I have only ever been a casual listener of this band. Smile It’s The End of The World was my favorite album by the Hawk Nelson and other than that there hasn’t been an album I have loved by them. The band has a ton of fun and catchy tunes, yet at times a little cheesy, but still they have a handful of good tracks spread across their catalog. I liked on their last album how they focused a little more on God and not having every song being solely about relationships. So I was hoping this album would head more in that direction. I have to honestly say I am pleasantly surprised with what Hawk Nelson delivered on the album.

Musically the album sounds like what we have come to expect from Hawk Nelson. Most of the songs focus around making all the songs as fun as they can be while blasting a combination of pop/rock and punk. The band can do this pretty well and can make an enjoyable experience out of this. They have already done four other albums following this formula but they do it well and they actually deliver a lot of variety out of the different sounds they have played before. They combine all the styles they have tackled over their last four albums and make tracks that include some of each style.

The album started off with “Tally-Ho” and it’s a punk/rock track to the max with little lyrical depth. This is one of those unnecessary fast paced minute and a half tracks that in the long run add very little to the album. Sure it’s a fun pump-up but in my case it’s fun the first time and then I really don’t care afterwards about the track; even though the music is decent. “LAX” is another one of those tracks that is just a little over a minute of pointless screaming even though the band is trying to be humorous with it. I did laugh the first time since the track is them screaming about hating airplanes and airplanes hating them, but the novelty wears off upon repeated listens.

“Tally-Ho,” “Skelton,” “Fraud,” “Joanna,” are the tracks that the rock/punk sound is most noticeable on. “Skeleton” was my favorite out of these few. “Your Love Is A Mystery,” “Crazy Love,” “We’re Alright,” “We Can Change The World,” “One Shot,” and “Thanks For The Beautiful Memories” revolve more around the pop/rock sound Hawk Nelson is also great at doing. “Your Love Is A Mystery” and “Crazy Love” were two of my favorite songs on the album. Both were very catchy, had some solid lyrics, and were just overall good tracks.

The ballad “My Next Breath” was my favorite song off the entire album. This track is a beautiful ballad that showed a lot of maturity from Hawk Nelson and where their hearts lie. It shows how important Christ is in their lives and the vital role he plays. “Done Holding On” goes along the same lines and while not at strong as “My Next Breath” it’s still a great track.

I have to say the greatest surprise and one of the best aspects on this album is the lyrics. Hawk Nelson stepped it up big time on this album delivering some thoughtful and Christ-centered lyrics. That was one of the things that had always hindered my enjoyability of past albums was that the band didn’t focus on Christ a ton with their lyrics and the song writing was just average. They have gotten much better on this album and it’s a nice change that they have included here, it really shows where the hearts of these guys lie. Here’s an example from your “Love Is A Mystery” and then two others follow:

I’m never always right and it’s plain to see /You love me Jesus, It’s a mystery/
You know my faults, You know my wrongs/And You still love me

“Crazy Love”:
‘Cause when ya get what ya get when you walk by faith/ is it really so dumb to give it all away?Give it all away/They say it sounds insane
we say that we’ve been changed by the power of crazy love/This world, it looks at us like we’re ridiculous/Baby, it’s all because of crazy love

And from “My Next Breath”:
Ashamed of who I’d become/
Afraid that if I looked up, I’d see your tears/But you have called me by name/And you have loved me the same/I’m forever changed/
And you are here, you are here

Chorus: You open up your arms/And give me a new start/I need you/I need you more than my next breath, I know that I am loved/Because you bought me with your blood/
I need you, I need you more than my next breath/Yeah, yeah

Now even with some maturity from the band they still are great at having a fun time and playing some tracks that show that off. A lot of these sound a lot like older material from the band. But since they did a good job having a more serious tone to some other tracks it’s fitting to have that sound fans love from the band mixed in. Like with past albums some tracks fair better than others, but this is one of the most complete albums by Hawk Nelson that I was actually able to enjoy all the way through.

I can easily say as a whole this is my favorite Hawk Nelson album. The guys exceeded my expectations in lyrical maturity, without sacrificing the lighthearted nature and charm of their songs. My expectations honestly weren’t super high to begin with but I am glad to see they did surprise me and delivered a solid album. For Hawk Nelson fans this is definitely worth getting. For others if you wanted a more serious outing from Hawk Nelson they did a good job here and there may be some tracks you enjoy. A little more maturity from Hawk Nelson is what I had been waiting for and while I’m still not the biggest fan ever, the guys made a solid album and brought along more of what I wanted to hear out of them.

Disc 2: The Light Sides

I was really impressed that Hawk Nelson compiled a full album of acoustic tracks. For those of you who have got deluxe editions of past Hawk Nelson albums there may be a few acoustic repeats on this album. Both acoustic versions of “Take Me and “Friend Like That were respectively on Letters To The President Deluxe Edition and Hawk Nelson Is My Friend Deluxe Edition. Including those two tracks the album has 10 tracks spread out from the last 4 albums and a full version of the track Stagefright that shortly appeared in Live Life Loud.

I was very happy with how well this acoustic album turned out. I usually like a lot of songs stripped down and done acoustically. I thought all these tracks would just have an acoustic guitar added to them and the band would call it good. But a pleasant surprise is that a lot of care went into these tracks to live up to their original versions and provide impressive new versions of these songs.

“California” is backed by different electronic combinations but is mainly driven by vocals. Jason Dunn voice’s has a group of background vocalists layered in with his voice. This adds a lot of depth and makes this a very nice version of the hit track off their first album.

“Friend Like That,” “First Time,” “You Have What I Need,” Head On Collision” and “Long Ago” lose none of the energy they had with their original sound. These are very upbeat tracks driven by the acoustic guitar but still have the pounding drums and energy of the originals.

“Stagefright turns out to be a fun acoustic track. It has been expanded from it’s snippet that was attached to “The Final Toast” at the end of Live Life Loud.

The rock ballads “Zero,” “Everything You Ever Wanted,” “Take Me,” and “36 Days” sound great with their more laid back sounds. “Zero” has a great clap-beat in the background that spurs the song on. “Everything You Ever Wanted” is primarily a piano ballad, while the acoustic guitar drives “Take Me “and” 36 Days. These tracks all sound great with their acoustic treatment and easily match up to their original counterparts.

This was a great acoustic album and I am glad with what the band did on it. They didn’t simply make all the tracks just 11 acoustic tracks that sounded the same, but instead gave each track it’s own life and identity. Fans of the band will definitely want this acoustic disc. Those who didn’t like the songs in their original formats may actually like this. The songs are revamped and given a different feel that they are almost like totally new songs. I give props to Hawk Nelson for doing a whole album of acoustic songs and hope other bands will follow this bands lead and do this in the future.

Overall: This is the ultimate package for Hawk Nelson fans to get 24 songs to enjoy from the band. Together these two albums make a very solid release and lots of different things to enjoy. When you put both these albums together this is the band’s best release in quality and quantity. Hake Nelson has showed that they are here to stay in the CCM market and if they have more releases like this to deliver in the future I can honestly say I am looking forward to the band to continue going in this direction. As far as this album is concerned if you like fun pop/rock/punk tracks and then some uplifting spiritual messages thrown in as well, this is a worthwhile project to pick up.

Note: The review score is for both albums combined. For individual scores, I would give Crazy Love around a 7 and The Light Sides an 8.

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