Hawk Nelson is pop. There, I said it. They are also one of the biggest-selling Christian rock bands around. Their last CD debuted at #34 on the Billboard 200 and at #13 on the iTunes top hundred chart. Their latest release, Live Life Loud, threatens to do better.
Hawk Nelson's pop rock sound is infectious, especially if you spend time around teenagers who seem to be playing them all the time. The songs get caught in your head, and you find yourself humming the melody for hours. They are outstanding musicians, and their live shows are high-energy and entertaining.
So why is this the first Hawk Nelson CD I've ever owned? Two words — shallow lyrics. Hawk Nelson's target audience goes for fairly mundane lyrics, things that don't require much thought. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I left that stage of my life behind years ago; I like a bit more content with my music now, thankyouverymuch. And while Live life Loud won't be confused with more cerebral rock releases, Hawk Nelson is finally getting out of the kiddie end of the pool and starting to venture out beyond the floating ropes into the deep end.
What am I talking about? I'm talking about songs like "Never Enough," dealing with typical inadequacies that everyone feels, but especially in trying to hear what God is saying to us. Then there's "Shaken," a song about understanding the problems beyond our own experiences, outside of our borders. It's something that Hawk Nelson is taking seriously; they've partnered with TOMS shoes. Not only does TOMS shoes give a pair of shoes away for every pair purchased, but right now when you buy the shoes through Hawk Nelson's store (or the link above), TOMS will donate eight dollars to the Hands & Feet Orphanage in Haiti. Hawk Nelson is serious about living their lives out loud.
That's not to say that the CD isn't fun — long time fans of Hawk Nelson don't have to worry about that. The title song is a typical pop rock anthem that will have the teens bouncing in the crowd at every concert Hawk Nelson plays, and "Ode to Lord Stanley" is simply a fun tribute to the Calgary Flames hockey team. There's plenty for fans to enjoy here.
I have to say, though, that my favorite cut on the CD (and this is where you'll be able to tell I'm old) has to be "'Tis So Sweet." I'm a sucker for re-imagined hymns, and this one is particularly well done, especially the extended chorus — “You’re the shelter in the storm/You’re the dearest friend I know/Oh light of the world, carry me home.”
I guess the only thing I didn't really like was the 3D packaging. It was great up until my three-year-old took my 3D glasses and lost them. But while I had the glasses, I enjoyed this neat idea — pictures of the band and even the song lyrics are all printed in the famous red and blue that works so well with the enclosed glasses.
Live Life Loud is available in stores and online today. Get a copy — you'll be glad you did.