Unspoken's 'Unplugged' Provides a Retro-Gospel Feel with Soulful Vocals [MUSIC REVIEW]


Following up their 2014 self-titled album, Unspoken (band members Chad Mattson, Mike Gomez, Jon Lowry, and Ariel Munoz) has a lot to live up to. Simple, sincere lyrics paired with a radio-friendly pop sensibility have become their trademark. Their latest release, which drops May 19, seeks to give listeners a sense to experience their tried and true hits, along with a few new songs, in a more intimate way. A retro-gospel feel, acoustic instrumentals, and soulful vocals make Unspoken's "Unplugged" an authentic worship experience.

The voice of Chad Mattson, which is at times reminiscent of Gavin DeGraw, is showcased at its best in contrast to the more stripped-down instrumental arrangements of this release. The album's opening track, "Broken Man", admits to an inherent, inner brokenness that cries out for repair. The lyrics of the chorus, which expresses a hope to "sing redemption songs," sets the tone for an album that offers equal parts reflection and hope. 

Previous radio singles "Start a Fire," "Lift my Life Up," "Who You Are," and "Good Fight" sound better than ever on this new release. "Good Fight," in particular, sounds both new and familiar in its acoustic version, with its punchy chorus and layered piano and giving the song new life. "Call it Grace," another song first heard on the "Unspoken" release, sounds exceptionally delicate in this acoustic rendering. The chorus "Some may call it foolish and impossible/But for every heart it rescues, it's a miracle/it's nothing less than scandalous/that Jesus took our place/just call it what it is, call it grace" is like a modern worship song meeting the classic "Amazing Grace" hymn and creating something new and wonderful. 

Alternating between the familar and the sublime aspects of worship is a strength of this band. God is addressed as the life-giving power force in "Lift My Life Up," and the author of our life story in "Green Light." New song "Born with a Broken Heart" explores similar territory, lyrically, to "Broken Man," but is set in a conversational tone between an individual and God. A standout is the last track, "Solid Rock," a reflective ballad against a simple piano arrangement: "Your grace has not abandoned me. For these storms, I thank my God -- for they drove me to the solid rock."

Unspoken is currently on tour through May 10th with JJ Weeks and Jonny Diaz. They have built both full-band and acoustic arrangements into their set lists, so fans at these concerts can expect to experience Unspoken both amped up and "unplugged."