Personnel: Seth Mosley, Jon Steingard (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, programming); Julia Ross , Mike Donehey, Blanca, Bart Millard, Matt Hammitt (vocals); Scott Mills (guitar); David Henry (viola, cello); Travis Terrell, Tim Lauer (piano, keyboards, programming); Justin Benner (drums, percussion).
Photographers: David Molnar; Joel Banta.
Hawk Nelson's sixth album, 2013's Made, is another big-hearted, big-sounding emo-pop album that's fully stocked with big, hooky choruses. Just like all their albums to date, there's far more pop in their sound than there is emo and not a single note, vocal, or emotion is out of place. The sound is very much of the time with Auto-Tune, fake turntable scratches, little bits of electronics poking through the edges of the mix, and a guest rap (from Blanca of Group 1 Crew on the inspiring dance-pop tune "Elevator") all making appearances -- almost any song would sound perfect on a pop radio station. The mix of uplifting rockers, stadium-ready ballads, and straight-ahead pop songs makes for a varied listening experience and the trio espouses its strong love of God with an easygoing approach that won't turn off listeners whose faith may not be as strong but still want to hear some nice non-threatening modern rock. While the album does work when it tries to reach the back row, when they strip back the big, super-slick production and aim smaller, they hit the target a little harder. "Outside the Lines" is a sparse and bouncy acoustic guitar-led song that feels just a little bit more heartfelt for being small-scale. This is a direction they could easily head and score great success, if they ever get tired of making epic-sounding albums like Made. Until then, Hawk Nelson will do fine sticking to the tried and true formula they use here. ~ Tim Sendra