We’ve teamed up with our friends over at One Man In The Middle to bring you regular, unbiased and honest reviews of music albums and EPs from Christian artists and musicians here in the UK and worldwide. This week we have Unite by 1GN with an overall review score of 7.4 out of 10.
Power pop vocal group 1GN, formerly 1 Girl Nation, is set to release its anticipated sophomore album, Unite, on April 15 with Reunion Records. The GMA Dove Award New Artist Nominee is excited to bring fans new music with a meaningful message.
The new album centers around the anthemic song “Guard Your Heart,” based on Proverbs 4:23-27, which begins with the encouragement, “Above all else, guard your heart.” The scripture is a kind of slogan for the girls to their fans. “So much of our life and interactions today are now through social media and online, which is awesome. But the dangers are real,” explains Lauryn Taylor Bach. “The images hitting us in pop culture are often overly sexualized and filled with hate, bullying, violence and division. We just want to encourage each other to guard our hearts from these things.”
While the album definitely treads into deep topics, it also contains a fresh, fun and infectious sound. 1GN partnered with producer duo Jordan Sapp and Dave Wyatt (TobyMac) for the album’s first single, “Get Hype.” Written to get crowds ready for 1GN’s exciting live show, the result is without question a fun and energetic pop track that will make fans want to dance. “As Christians, we have more to hope for and more to celebrate than anyone can imagine,” shares Kayli Robinson. “A song like ‘Get Hype’ is just a modern expression of the joy and excitement we should feel as members of the body of Christ.” The track titles are listed below, which includes this new upbeat dance single.
In 2013 a new all-girl group stormed the Christian market receiving Dove award nominations and reaching number 2 in the Christian Music charts, the album was the self-titled “1 Girl Nation”. They followed this up with a Christmas EP in 2014, but now they are back with an altered line-up, a whole new album and a shortened name – 1GN.
This new name reflects some of the changes which have happened in the group as they have lost both Lesley Adamec and Kelsey Grimm in 2014 (incidentally Lesley’s new project is in our list for review soon). This has left a triplet to build an album based on the previous success. It is unlikely that this album will reach the levels of their first, but it certainly seems like they have come back with a similar recipe, but maybe a slightly deeper outlook to bring a positive message to their core pre-teen and teenage market.
The album is largely electronic dance music style and this kicks off with a couple of let-loose tracks in “Get Hype” and “The One”. The first track has little valuable content, it’s just fun track to get dancing to, check out the video, because this is the first one that they have released from this album as a single. “The One” still has a great opportunity to dance but this one brings a message about looking for “The One”. This is not just talking about relationships and looking for your Prince Charming, but a warning about searching for love in all the wrong places, but that there is one who is always by your side, the one who gave their life!
The next track is the first that really starts to ask the listener questions about life. “Cinema” asks the question, what if my life was a cinema? OK, so that might not be the obvious question to deepen faith, but the metaphor of the cinema works well for the listener to ask themselves questions. “Would my life sell tickets”, “Did I let you direct?” and many others which questions the depth of relationship and impact that you would let Jesus have on your life. Musically this is a great track, using the chorus and many mix effects that really make this stand out. It’s not quite a Katy Perry track, but it’s a getting close.
“Guard Your Heart” is the first of a couple of tracks that should really speak to the audience that 1GN are aiming at. It’s literally what it says in the title, based on the Biblical instruction, and this message is very much needed in a society that see’s so much pressure on girls to be in a relationship. This is an encouragement to trust that if you trust God then you won’t be disappointed, but at the same time you have to protect your heart to avoid hurt and pain. This real-life straight-talking style continues with “No Filter”. This is something that anyone on social media will be familiar with, taking a selfie and uploading it to instagram and applying a filter to make it look better. However this isn’t just talking about looks, but also about our lives, the public record is our timeline on facebook, but these are just the highlights, we aren’t just the highlights we have plenty of bits in between – this is all about being true to yourself. We have to be real and authentic otherwise people will never know the real you.
“Love your enemies” is a bit of an old fashioned term, but this song brings it right up to date. Again the world of social media comes into play – this is about those people who bully you in this forum as well as life. What is the reaction? “Haters gonna hate, love them anyway”, there is the reminder that Jesus had haters too in this song.
We have a very different song as we are into the second half of this release. “Panic” does away with a lot of the trappings of the EDM style that we have had all through the album so far, instead there is a focus on the vocal, keys and violin. This is about remembering God is with you no matter what – He is dependable despite your world collapsing around you, it’s a song to yourself encouraging you not to panic in this moment. This is a much more mature sound to this song, showing a stretching of their musical style. Don’t worry though because we are straight back into the usual style in “Impossible”.
“Smile” and “Unite” round out the album in a great teeny-bop style. “Smile” is a quasi-worship track which encourages the listener to sing, shout and dance because we are free. This is an EDM track that would feel right at home next to some of the lighter tracks from Hillsong! “Unite” is a final call on the disc to stand for your beliefs and when you do you will not be alone. This starts with more vocal and guitar before the drumbeat and EDM style kicks back in reminding us that we are stronger together. A great anthemic style chorus that I am sure will go down well.
Many of these tracks have definitely been written to be performed live and I can see them working really well in a concert situation with the party atmosphere that this style would create. Although with this album they have aimed squarely at the pre-teen and teen market there is definitely a maturity that may well reach the mothers as well. The topics and lyrics are multi-dimensional and take into account many aspects of a young girls emotional journey at a very delicate age, whilst remembering at the same time they love to dance and join in.
Some of these tracks would be at home featuring on the Disney and Nickelodeon shows that my almost teenage daughter is so fond of. There are very positive messages coming through the tracks, more importantly they are God-honouring too. Many of the tracks here are a little over-produced and some of the vocals smack a little of candy-coated pop, but at the same time these girls prove that they can sing, rap and mix up their styles a bit. If you have girls of a certain age in your house that like Little Mix, Katy Perry or even Lady Gaga then I think they will love this album, buy them this and you know that your household will regularly be told to “Get Hype”
For track listing, ranking breakdown and more check out onemaninthemiddle.com