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Music Review: Collective Soul – Afterwords

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I was a fan of Collective Soul ever since I heard their hit single “Shine” way back in 1994. Then came “December” and “The World I Know” in 1995, and after that, “Listen” in 1997, and I knew that their music were something really special. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow them or their music after their 1997 album, Disciplined Breakdown, but I’m sure I must have missed a lot these last ten years!

Their latest album, Afterwords, sounds slightly different from their older albums, a little more bright and cheerful, but the unique sound that I love about them is still there. Ed Roland’s voice is still the same husky voice I fell in love with years ago, but I think it sounds even better now. What I really love about his voice in this album is that it still has the vulnerability that comes out so well in Collective Soul’s older songs, but now it also has a sort of strong, sit-up-and-take-notice tone to it that I didn’t notice before.

Admittedly, since I haven’t been listening to them since the Disciplined Breakdown album, what’s new to me may be old to other fans. As I’ve said previously, another change I’ve noticed is that Afterwords sounds a lot brighter and more cheerful compared to their older albums.

Most of their hit songs in the 90’s were what I’d describe as angst-filled — while the music and lyrics were never negative, they were more gloomy with a passionately hopeless feel to them. Listening to Afterwords after being so used to their older songs, is almost like getting bowled over by a happy, energetic Golden Retriever puppy after coming home from a dead-end 9 to 5 job that you’re resigned to. Nothing illustrates this more than their first single from this album, “Hollywood.” It is one of the happiest, cheeriest, brightest, and catchiest songs I have ever heard, and I absolutely love it!

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t love their older songs. On the contrary, I absolutely loved them too. But this album is truly a fresh breath of air. I enjoyed all the songs on Afterwords but as usual, I have my favorites, particularly “What I Can Give You,” “Bearing Witness,” “All That I Know,” and of course, the best one of all, “Hollywood.”

Having said that, I do have hopes that Collective Soul might write some new songs in that old gloomy tone of theirs that I loved. It would be good to have both some happy and gloomy songs to listen to in their future albums. In the meantime though, I’ll just enjoy being really cheerful while listening to Collective Soul’s Afterwords.

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About Betty Wong

Betty Wong grew up studying natural health and nutrition and is now a certified Master Herbalist. She believes that the health of the body, mind, and spirit are intrinsically linked and that nurturing all aspects of the self is essential to achieving true health. She is a naturally curious person who likes to ask questions and look for creative and unusual answers. She is also an avid reader and writer, and enjoys crafting in her free time.