For Fans Of
While musicians like Aaron Gillespie aren’t as rare as they used to be, in an existence where computers shape the music we hear on our airwaves, it’s still so refreshing to listen to a guy that has simple, raw talent. He is most recognizable as the guitarist and vocalist of The Almost, and the former drummer of Underoath, but after parting ways with them last year, he must’ve had some extra time on his hands as he has released his first solo record. It’s no secret Gillespie is a very devout man, having commenced leading worship at the age of fifteen.
Personally I’m an atheist, but it’s still warming to see how much faith can mean to an individual, and how much it can shape their art. Gillespie cites a recent trip to Africa as one of his main influences in crafting the lyrics on the record. He noted how taken aback he was by the African people, and their devotion to a God despite having nothing. So his heart is clearly pinned to his sleeve throughout ‘Anthem Song‘.
His solo work is a far cry from his post-hardcore Underoath stylings, though not all that dissimilar from The Almost at times. Relying heavily on acoustic instruments, aided by the occasional dirty chorus, provides a pretty simple backdrop to Gillespie’s main weapon: his voice. He doesn’t rely on technical wizardry to help himself along, he just does what he always has; sing from the inside. The subject matter is clearly very close to home for Gillespie; his raw and passionate melodies are one of the record’s highlights. Though, while the album can occasionally gain momentum and have you tapping your toe, it’s still pretty generic on the whole.
He doesn’t really push the envelope in any respects, seeming content in going through the motions and writing a very simple indie rock album. The lyrical content is pretty focused on devotion to the big man upstairs, though to anyone that doesn’t share the faith, they can come across as rather corny and become a glaring afterthought. Though, if South Park has taught me anything, it is that religious art has a broad audience – so Gillespie will undoubtedly reach a great deal of folks with this effort, and I’m sure there’ll be a fair shake of Underoath fans who’ll give a listen; even if only for another helping of Gillespie.
That isn’t to say non-believers like myself should shun the record entirely, there is the odd track that is catchy enough to perhaps find a place on a mixed CD. “Hosanna” was the first track to grab my attention, and is one of the more upbeat tunes on the record. Its catchiness must be attributed to a combination of Gillespie vocally belting out a tribute to Christian praise, and the consistent beat throughout the song that kind of had me in a trance for a minute there – almost like being wide asleep? “Earnestly I Seek Thee” and “We Were Made For You” carry the record well entering the middle of the record, then it kind of falls apart and becomes forgettable.
It’s simple, it’s obviously very passionate but at the same time it is unfortunately bland. I do have great respect for Aaron Gillespie. He has done some wonderful things with the talents he’s been blessed with, in Underoath and The Almost. I just don’t know that this solo venture will prove to be one of his crowning achievements when it is said and done. But hey, who am I to judge him? I hear he has a guy for that.
- All Things
- Washed Away
- Earnestly I Seek Thee
- We Were Made For You
- I Will Worship You
- Anthem Song
- You Are Jesus
- You Are My Everything
- Your Song Goes On Forever
- I Am Your Cup