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Review: Sanctus Real, Pieces of a Real Heart March 10, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Music, Reviews.
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Sanctus Real is a band that has somehow escaped my attention all these years, to the point that I almost feel like I should apologize. I’ve never met nor interviewed them. I’ve never seen them live. I’m even hard-pressed to recall a Sanctus Real song, even though they’ve had seven #1 radio singles and can claim the title “Grammy nominated”.

If you’re like me, you need to know that despite the unusual name, Sanctus Real is not a heavy metal band, and that nomination was not for a Latin Grammy. I looked up those chart-topping songs, and they’re good, but not as good as their latest collection, “Pieces of a Real Heart”.

 Forgiven is the first radio single and it’s fantastic. I think the radio mix has robbed the song of a bit of its infectious opening, but one listen shows how the band’s sound has developed into something tight, mature, and modern. Production is top notch, and the song will stick around for some time.

Accessible production continues on These Things Take Time, which feels like Todd Agnew’s Better Questions theme set to a bright pop beat. The Redeemer sounds a bit like downhere, and if you know me that’s a high compliment.

Lyrics are sometimes a bit pedestrian and sometimes brilliant. Lead Me is the sort of honesty about real life that would make this genre so much better. Dear Heart is derivative, channeling MercyMe’s So Long Self, but both songs share perfect emotional pitch by the vocalist. Here, Matt Hammitt is only slightly tongue-in-cheek, carrying the metaphor to the ultimate question: “Tell me, who’s going to save us now.”

I thought I’ll Show You How To Live was another sappy father-daughter song, with its opening line, “I heard the sound of your first breath, a brand new life on your mother’s chest / A beating heart, expectant eyes on the first day of your life.” I’m a sucker for sappy father-daughter songs, so I listened attentively. The curve ball came with this line: “I created the heart that makes you feel. I am the love that makes it real.” Yes, it’s a father-child song, but we’re talking about a different Father here.  As such, it does more than make me recall fond memories of my children’s lives; it makes me strive to be a father who points them to the Heavenly Father, who will do a much better job than I of showing them how to live.

I might be a bit late to arrive on the Sanctus bandwagon, but I’m glad I’ve finally arrived.

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