Album Title: Hearts of the Innocent
Release Date: March 2006
Genre: Rock
Hearts Of The Innocent the new CD from Kutless is rock worship at its best. Heavy guitar riffs and liberal use of the crash cymbals dominate the title track. When heavy metal tunes first emerged in the seventies the hard hitting music was equally matched by messages that were in your face. Kutless revives that style for delivering a message as lead singer Jon Micah Sumrall delivers;

"I'm looking down into the eyes of the hopeless
They're crying out to me
I see the pain it's so much more than youth should know
It tears me apart
What can I do to change what I see?"

If there is a weakness with this Oregon based band's fourth CD it comes with the first three songs sounding so similar that unless you are paying close attention they simply sound like extensions of one another. We don't get a change of pace until the fourth track "Smile" graces our ears. There is nothing wrong with any of the songs but perhaps ordering the CD in a different fashion may have been more beneficial.

"Smile" is an amazing song not because it weaves flowery poetry with a backdrop of pastel colors but due to the authenticity of the words. Primary songwriter Sumrall takes a simple life situation and uses it to remind us that opportunities abound to share our faith. "Smile" tells of an individual boarding a plane and sitting beside another passenger with whom he eventually has the opportunity to share his faith.

It is rare that a band will continue to work with the same producer throughout its career. Artists sometimes change producers just to achieve a different sound and not because there is any dissatisfaction with the previous working relationship. The combination of Aaron Sprinkle who produces Hearts Of The Innocent and Kutless has been so successful that they have never had a reason to look elsewhere.

One of the strengths of Hearts Of The Innocent is the strings arrangements featured on the eighth track "Mistakes" and the tenth groove "Changing World". When CDs are produced in Nashville we become accustomed to hearing the same strings players on the recordings which is only a testament to their excellence. Hearts Of The Innocent however introduces us to a fresh cast of west coast virtuosos. The violin players are Washington State's JJ Jang who played Carnegie Hall when he was eighteen years old and Victoria Parker. Parker has played with Sarah Brightman, Manhattan Transfer and Aretha Franklin. She has toured extensively throughout Europe, North America and Japan. Violist Sharyn Peterson and cellist Phillip Peterson (The House Of Breaking Glass) are the other instrumentalists in the string section. Sharyn is the conductor for the Mount Baker Youth Symphony and is a strings virtuoso demonstrating excellence not only on the viola but also the violin and voice.

Word on the street is during the first week of sales Hearts Of The Innocent doubled the sales of Kutless' previous release Strong Tower. When Kutless first appeared with their self titled debut CD in 2002 they were heralded as the heir apparent on the rock scene. I think it is safe to say we can now drop the moniker heir apparent, their time has arrived.

Check out www.kutless.com for more information.

Writer: Joe Montague

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