Album Review :
Sanctus Real - Pieces of a Real Heart

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Artist: Sanctus Real
Album: Pieces of a Real Heart
Label: Sparrow Records
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Review by: Michael Mayer III

Tracklisting:

  1. Forgiven
  2. These Things Take Time
  3. The Way the World Turns
  4. Lead Me
  5. The Redeemer
  6. Take Over Me
  7. I Want to Get Lost
  8. ‘Til I Got to Know You
  9. Dear Heart
  10. I’ll Show You How to Live
  11. Keep My Heart Alive

It’s often said that bands mellow with age. Unfortunately, when it comes to a band like Sanctus Real, who weren’t ever a hard rock band to begin with, that may spell doom as their career goes on. For what it’s worth, Pieces of a Real Heart is their most worshipful and uplifting album yet. The lyrics are more spiritually blunt than ever before and that certainly isn’t a negative. What is lacking on their 5th full length album is all the energy and catchy pop hooks fans have come to know and love. This is the type of album I’d sooner expect a band like Kutless to put out and not the one that gave us the fantastic release known as Fight the Tide.

Sanctus Real’s last album had an insanely catchy rock single so infectious I just had to buy the album to own the song. The hook in ‘We Need Each Other’ dug its roots deep into my brain and wouldn’t let go until I listened to it repeatedly. That’s a rare occurance and naturally I was a bit disappointed to only find a few other solid rock tracks on that album, but they were there at least. Pieces of a Real Heart doesn’t even have that much going for it. The first single and album opener, ‘Forgiven’, is neither catchy or rock driven. It’s a ballad with your standard lyrics of forgiveness and no real meat to the song to make it stand out. Such is the case with most of the tracks on the album.

Sure, there’s a few bright spots like the kid’s chorus at the end of ‘The Way the World Turns’ and the upbeat and truly lone rock track, ‘Take Over Me’ as well as the best song on the album, ‘Lead Me’. Speaking of ‘Take Over Me’, I had to double check and make sure I wasn’t listening to Kutless because Matt’s vocals in the chorus sound exactly like Jon Micah’s. As for ‘Lead Me’, it’s easily the most personal song on the album and those end up being my favorite types of worship songs. Most worship songs are too general and vague about common topics we’ve been hearing all our life in church. It’s the ones that make you feel what the singer is singing that last with you the longest. Combine that with the effective way Matt delivers the lyrics and the moving music and you wonder why they didn’t go down that route more.

Instead, I can’t even remember the second half of the album, even right after I listened to it. Most of the songs have the same structure and lyrical style that they may as well all be one. ‘I’ll Show You How to Live’ stuck out to me though. The lyrics are once again personal as Matt sings about the stages of a son or daugthers life from their brith to when they have their first crush. At first it sounds as if he is singing from the point of view of the child’s father until you get to the second chorus and you realize he’s singing from the view of our heavenly Father. It’s a rather touching song that reinforces how God must view each of our lives with such love even though it may be hard to realize sometimes.

Overall: Those that are looking for a new pop worship album will find more to like here than others. Still, there is better worship music being made elsewhere that strays further away from cliches. For the rest of us hoping for Sanctus Real to pump out some slick pop/rock tunes chockful of vocal hooks and catchy riffs, this album doesn’t fit the bill. Maybe that chapter of their career is now over, but as long as they are making the music they want to I can’t be selfish and say they should go backwards. If this is where they are set on going then I’m all for it so long as they turn up the creative flow and think outside the box more on their next release.

Gems of this album are: ‘Lead Me’, ‘I’ll Show You How to Live’, ‘The Way the World Turns’

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