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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Starfield - I Will Go

Sounds like … a lighter, less muscular version of Hillsong United with nods to Vertical Horizon, Leeland, By the Tree, and Lincoln Brewster.

At a glance … little has changed about the way Starfield attacks its brand of melodic, anthemic, rocking-but-not-really style of modern worship.

At a time when career longevity is often short for Christian bands—particularly modern worship bands—it's interesting that Sparrow Records is still holding fast to Starfield. Already on their third album for the label, the Canadian band has released a new disc like clockwork every two years since their 2004 stateside debut. That self-titled effort released with little fanfare, failing to distinguish the foursome from the glut of modern worship hopefuls at the time. Starfield's follow-up Beauty in the Broken fared a little better, outpacing the first album 2-to-1 commercially. Musically, it found the rockers stretching their wings with a few Switchfoot-styled rockers, only to rely on middling modern worship songs for most of the rest.

But then it's fans that decide a band's success, not critics, and Starfield remains one of the hottest tickets in Christian music, at least in their Canadian homeland. They're also one of the most decorated, with an assortment of Juno, Covenant, and Shai awards to their credit. Starfield also keeps a busier tour schedule than most, logging in hundreds of concert dates a year for enthusiastic audiences.

All of the above more than justifies the release of I Will Go, though once again the group fails to push the creative envelope. Opting for more of their blandly melodic pop/rock style, they sound like Hillsong United in approach, only much tamer and disciplined in execution. Case in point, their cover of United's "Hosanna" is robbed of its apocalyptic fervor, reduced to a four-minute by-the-numbers radio single (points off for the truncated bridge, too)....

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