Sound: Sanctus Real's major-label debut, Say It Loud (Sparrow Records, 2002), established the band as driving force in Christian contemporary music. The band's fifth release, Pieces of A Real Heart, illustrates the shift from their early power pop through alternative rock to a matured pop rock. Unfortunately, this move seems to have blunted the band's general musicianship, placing them on the precipice of the all-too-common Christian 'worship' band pigeonhole.
Pieces of A Real Heart is plagued by one major problem: repetitiveness. A few tracks stand out from the rest, most notably in These Things Take Time and Take Me Over (which hearkens back to the band's 2006 release, The Face of Love,) but for the most part the album is lodged in a mire of stale instrumentation. I found myself repeatedly checking the track number even after a number of listens through; Pieces of A Real Heart simultaneously lacks the creativity of their previous albums and the charisma to encourage listeners to evolve alongside the band. Sanctus Real's approach to writing music has changed - the song structure tends to be tighter and more refined - but the change seems to have been a step backward. // 4
Lyrics: Overall, the lyrics are not particularly impressive. Matt Hammit's sweeping vocal acrobatics are as moving as ever, but the content rarely reaches beyond the scope of typical Christian pop, and many bands (Audio Adrenaline, Needtobreathe, Kutless) relay those ideas much more meaningfully. There are a flew glimmers of inspiration. Lead Me is a touching foray into the singer's personal quest to take a more active role in his family life. But for the most part, the album is rife with moderately catchy verses repeated often enough to suck the life out of them. // 7
Overall Impression: I was left sorely disappointed by Sanctus Real's latest effort. There are a few solid songs, but I've come away with a feeling analogous to having been trapped in an elevator and forced to listen to the same tunes over and over. I would not purchase this album a second time. Pieces of A Real Heart toes the line between mildly entertaining to downright boring. // 6