Sound: Stright after releasing their latest album "Youth," Georgia quintet Collective Soul make a parade of their "From The Ground Up" - "a unique collection of hits and rarities performed acousticaly." But it's not the compilation of the greatest hits or something like this as it might seems. There are only eight tracks here -- in my humble opinion this is a huge disadvantage of it, gladly this is the only disadvantage -- some of which we can get from their other records. That doesn't make this EP less significant. Even having the grunge roots in their music, Collective Soul never had these distinguishing genre's features in their music. With "From The Ground Up" they keep moving away from mainstream depressive and ranging grunge, though their arrangements are charged with minor chords and melancholy solos as before. In fact this EP is an acoustic collection so I can't say much on sound and guitar effects, but it has a perfect sound quality that's great enough to blow up your stereo with the band's music. Besides, the guys know how to play and what to play -- all of them are highly skilled musicians. There is no division on "front" and "background" music -- all the instruments are perfectly balanced and each one supplements another.
With the first notes of an opening track "Compliment" (from Collective Soul's album "Dosage," '99) it fills up the space around with the spirit of a lonely stranger on dusty road in a blazing sunset, and this feeling could stay in your mind with your listening of the whole album... and a long time after. The following song "Youth" isn't from the latest album, it can be founded only here. This song features amazing vocals of Ed Roland surrounded by acoustic guitar sounds. Album's third track "December" is one of the band's highlights of all time that has been originaly performed on the '95 self-tittled album. The following tracks are acoustic versions of "Perfect To Stay," "Under Heaven's Skies," "Counting The Days," and "Satellite" from Collective Soul's latest release "Youth," and only sixth track "She Said" is from "7even Year Itch" compilation. In general, all the songs here are guitar and vocal works, though on "Compliment," "December," and "Counting The Days" you will be impressed with great drums and percussion parts. By the way, "Satellite" isn't the last track on the album as it's stated in the songlist -- there is a rare Ed Roland's own country tune "Now You Got Me Drinking, Don't Let Me Drink Alone" after that. If to sum up everything stated above in one word, I would say amazing, just amazing! // 10
Lyrics: This acoustic record consists of the indissoluble combination of instrumental, vocal and lyrical parts, obviously it would be pretty hard to reproduce all the emotions and feelings using just instruments. From this point of view "Ground Up" is also perfectly done by Collective Soul in the person of Ed Roland -- he's always been a great singer and he proved it one more time. Ed's voice on "From The Ground Up" is so narrowly intertwines with the music accompaniment that it's impossible to see one without another. The vocal parts with their brightness, softness, reverie and semantic load really fill up the compositions the content that can't be provided by instrumental arrangements. Besides the great vocal talent, Ed Roland is also a skillful songwriter. His lyrics has always been very energetic and uplifting -- you can make sure of this by getting listen any Collective Soul's release including this one. // 10
Overall Impression: From the one side, it's a shame that Collective Soul with almost fifteen years stage experience isn't so famous and popular band -- it's kind of a well known band, but you can rarely see their songs in charts. From the other side, this fact allows the guys to be virgin in terms of commercializing their music -- Collective Soul have never taken on a job for the sake of quick and easy money. So, "From The Ground Up" can't be put into that category of "commercial" music. There are no standout tracks here -- every song is a hit with its own fascination. I wouldn't say that the acoustic performances breathe in a new life to the older songs, but they make them to sound really fresh and interesting. Also, "From The Ground Up" may be considered as some addition -- or if you wish prolongation -- to their album "Youth," 'cause a half of the songs are from there. All in all, this is a must-have release for any Collective Soul admirers and for any listener who likes the quality and relaxing acoustic music. // 10