Sanctus Real recently released their 8th studio album Changed, appropriately named as the band has experienced quite a bit of change over the past few years. One of these changes is a new lead singer. Dustin Lolli replaced former lead singer, now solo artist, Matt Hammit. Despite the changes, the album stays true to the quality music Sanctus Real has put out over the years.
“Your Love is Loud” starts the album on an upbeat note. Mark Graalman, original member and drummer keeps the toe- tapping rhythm throughout the song. An innovative move on the band’s part is to include more dance-worthy songs, such as “Safe in My Father’s Arms”, and its head-bopping rhythm and melody supporting a catchy chorus.
“Survival” has the soulful, southern gospel vibe of an organ, raw vocals, and a thick, burly, distorted guitar. Lead singer Dustin Lolli shows off his vocal power in this song, belting out soul- stirring lyrics.
Softer, piano chords form the backbone of “Hide and Seek”. Dustin’s wife Sarah joins in for a backing vocal that remains for the entire song. Their voices complement each other well in the bridge during the lyrics “There is no height You wouldn’t climb for me/ No depth You wouldn’t dive for me/ No ground You wouldn’t brave for me”. “Unrestrained” also has some creative vocal performance, from a layering of the singer’s vocals during the verse that transitions to a synthesized harmony. A bit more on the pop side of music, Sanctus Real is tastefully creative with this track.
The title track and first single “Changed” sounds most reminiscent of previous Sanctus Real albums. The lyrics speak of being changed by grace and how it’s a process. There is grace enough for each day. The current radio single “Confidence” takes famous biblical characters as examples for how we, like David, can face our everyday “giants”.
A sweet duet of piano and guitar lightly paint a soundscape for Lolli’s smooth vocals in “Hello Love”. A few lines of “Amazing Grace” are woven in the lyrics of the bridge before the final chorus. Even softer instrumentation brings in “My Hope is in the Lord” as an acoustic guitar, banjo, and a kickdrum/snare combo carry the song. At heart, it’s a country song sung on the porch with friends with the thankful lyrics “I am blessed beyond compare to find my joy in things that last/ Finding peace in who I am rather than my circumstance” echoing through the night. Background vocals are done by Sarah Lolli as well.
The album closes with “Breaking Point”, which starts with the focus on the vocals singing a melody that the instruments work around. A cello plays through an interlude, and other instruments include acoustic guitar, drums, lead guitar, syncopated claps, synth, and several creative vocal harmonies. A song of surrender to the divine, this creatively closes the album by stripping the instruments until all that is left is an echo of a voice singing “From the dark You call me out to have my heart”.
Coming from someone who is hesitant about new music from an established band, and more so when there are changes in membership, this recent release is a solid one. There is no mistaking a different sound, but the standard that Sanctus Real has always had remains to be a high one. The instrumentation is uniquely varied and production is excellent across the board. Many of the tracks are inviting, and even fun for listeners to bob their heads and clap. The songwriting provides a variety for listeners in the anthems, pop tunes, softer serenades, and flavorful worship songs found in this record. Overall, Changed is a high quality, sonically diverse album from a band that never disappoints.