Sanctus Real returns with their new studio album Pieces of a Real Heart. Working with acclaimed producers Chris Stevens (Tobymac, Sanctus Real, Matthew West) and Jason Ingram & Rusty Varenkamp (Tenth Avenue North, Rush of Fools, Bebo Norman) this album finds the band maturing and growing as songwriters and individuals. Pieces of a Real Heart is the sound of a rock band retaining their aggressive edge but incorporating more diverse musical instrumentation and sounds – as heard on the debut single “Forgiven”.
With over 350,000 career units sold, Sanctus Real has a strong radio history with 6 #1 CHR singles, 6 Top 5 singles and 2 AC Top 20 singles. Their debut single “Forgiven” is already connecting with radio listeners, and explores the theme of forgiveness in a profound and simple way. “The working-out of forgiveness is so key to our growth and maturity as followers of Jesus,” says lead singer Matt Hammitt. “The very idea that we have been forgiven for so much wrong moves, reforms, transforms and heals us. As we were framing ‘Forgiven’ around this concept, we realized that this was such a fundamental aim for all of us – to forgive and be forgiven.”
The standout track “Lead Me” is further evidence of the band’s musical and lyrical growth, as the song follows a husband striving to lead his wife and family. Already getting a strong response live, the song will further connect with listeners when it’s released to radio in early 2010.
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Sanctus Real Is Back| Posted March 02, 2010
After two years since their previous album, Sanctus Real is back with their fifth national album, "Pieces of a Real Heart." (Why they didn't release this in time for Valentine's Day, I can't figure out)
Most people who listen to AC or CHR radio are likely already acquainted with lead single and opening track, "Forgiven." The song went to number 1 on CHR and is still climbing at AC. The song is by far the band's most mellow opening track, which could immediately turn of some of their avid fanbase. But that is an indication of what this album is, a much softer side of Sanctus Real. (That will likely have their fans wishing they weren't so hard on the soft sound of the album's predecessor)
But that isn't to say that Sanctus Real has become another MercyMe. They still have their rock sound. Track 2 introduces us to "These Things Take Time" which has been used in their live setlist since the summer.(Although it sounds like they've retooled it since) It's got a rock sound and definitely sounds like Sanctus Real, even if it isn't as edgy as their hits have been. "The Way The World Turns" follows next and then the emotional "Lead Me" which has AC Hit written all over it as it is a plea to God for the singer to be able to be a good leader to his family. With the decline of leadership in husbands/fathers today, this could be a got way to remind them of their duty.
"The Redeemer" is next, which is a good and catchy song but older Sanctus Real fans will likely forget all about it after the opening notes of the next track. That's right, Sanctus Real reminds us that they still can write good rock with the next track, "Take Over Me." It's a stunningly good song and classic Sanctus. It might have been better as the opening track but I guess putting it in the middle of the album has a logic to it.
Next follows another rock track, not quite as edgy as the previous but still good. "I Want To Get Lost" is a catchy and radio friendly rock track that should please both ends of the Sanctus spectrum. Putting it right next to the album's hardest track might not have been for the best but it still sounds great.
The album then proceeds with mid-tempo songs "'Til I Got To Know You" and "Dear Heart." Both are good songs and are definitely not throwaways.
Perhaps the best slower song on the album is "I'll Show You How To Live," which is next. There's an emotion in this that just feels so genuine.
The album closes on a softer note with "Keep My Heart Alive," which picks up speed as the track progresses.
Lyrically, Sanctus Real is as strong as ever tackling issues from God's forgiveness, the desire to know the answers of life, the aforementioned message of "Lead Me", and a desire for God to make our hearts reflecting of him("Take Over Me" "Keep My Heart Alive"). There's nothing to complain about here.
Ultimately, the album's lack of rock is the only reason I don't give this a 5/5. It's still Sanctus Real, brilliant lyrics, catchy melodies, and quality that stands above the typical AC/CHR fare and makes you take notice. While the laid back sound is one I hope they shed next time, in favor of a sound more along the lines of hits like "I'm Not Alright" and "Turn On The Lights," this will do for now. If you're interested in a Pop/Rock album that rises above the rest, Sanctus Real is still your band. It may not be their best yet, but it's still good.
Pieces Of A Real Heart| Posted December 07, 2010
Since releasing Say It Loud on Sparrow records Sanctus Real has been a consistent voice is CCM. Hits like "Things Like You (Everyone's Everything)," "I'm Not Alright," and "We Need Each Other" have endeared pop lovers who enjoy the eternal prospective offered by the band. However while even I have attracted to the band solid pop rock fused with strong lyrics Sanctus Real has been on a slide (especially with their latest album, the dud, We Need Each Other). However with the group's fourth fifth album, Pieces Of A Real Heart, they intend to make that "had" over "has."
The Face Of Love wasn't as effective musically as it was just stirring emotionally with its often edgy chorus' and its lack of catchy pop tunes. We Need Each Other failed both musically and lyrically with it's awful light pop/ballad formula. However just the sound, which is reminiscent of older, Sanctus real, alone on Pieces Of A Real Heart, makes the album immediately better. Although the music isn't as enjoyable as Fight The Tide's audio, The pop/rock sound is generally more fluid than the previous two albums. The vocal hooks of Matt Hammitt have never been better, and tunes like "I'll Show You How To Live" and "The Way The World Turns" are smart. While songs like "Forgiven" and "Take Over" are not over achievers, the spunky "These Things Take Time" will take devoted fans back to Fight The Tide days in a good way.
However not everything is perfectly rosy here. Sanctus Real doesn't do any ground breaking and doesn't even test the waters with sounds which are new to even the band. In specific, "Till I Got To Know You” showcases the underachieving characteristics of Sanctus Real. Over the course of the years Sanctus Real has brought of social, personal, and vertical themes to their respective albums in a seemingly purposeful pattern. However, Pieces Of A Real Heart covers a lot of ground with their latest and doesn't dwell on a specific issue. The lyrical satisfaction of the project will depend heavily on the listener. While "I Want To Get Lost" (‘But right now I wanna get lost in you/Before I lose myself’) is pretty cliché lyrics, songs like "Dear Heart" and "The Redeemer" will enthrall some but alienate others.
It's unlikely that at the end of the day Pieces Of A Real Heart will be considered a the Best Sanctus Real Album. The past three Sanctus Real Albums hold something for everything Fight The Tide still stands alone with it's smart, thoughtful lyrics and fun upbeat music, The Face Of Love stands out with its melancholy artistic mood, and some people find We Need Each Other good (true story). So where does that leave Pieces Of A Real Heart? Probably as a in between album which will re-create the band's pop rock image some. So while the album might not be the best thing since sliced bread Sanctus Real fans will be pleased to have an album which at least features the best of what the group has to offer.
Sanctus Real [Pieces of a Real Heart]| Posted March 02, 2010 [MAIN REVIEW]
Popularly known for its captivating recordings and live performances, Toledo, Ohio-based Sanctus Real’s breakthrough album, The Face of Love, released in April 2006, landing at No 2 on the Billboard Top Heetseekers chart and amassing a string of radio hits including the No. 1 songs “I’m Not Alright” and “Don’t Give Up.” While The Face of Love was inspired by real-life heartache and rediscovered joy, the band’s fourth studio release, We Need Each Other, marked a completion of that healing process and is a call for unity. Award-winning band Sanctus Real gave fans an early preview of its upcoming, fifth studio album Pieces of A Real Heart with its brand new song, “Forgiven,” which has already been a Top 10 hit at radio.
If you like the new, softer sounding “Forgiven,” then you will absolutely love the entire new album. Personally, I'd say Sanctus Real's songs have matured along with the band members, similar to Switchfoot in that way. However, if you’re looking for edgy rock songs like “Everything About You,” “I’m Not Alright” and “Turn On The Lights” you won’t really find them on this album with maybe the exception of “Take Over Me,” which is one of the rockers on the album. If you liked radio hits “Something Heavenly,” “Face Of Love” and “Don’t Give Up,” then you’ll love this album, which is chock full of radio-friendly yet very personal and engaging songs including “These Things Take Time,” “Lead Me” and “The Redeemer.” “These Things Take Time” got me moving in a similar way to hit song “Don’t Give Up.” “The Way The World Turns” completes a trilogy of songs that all focus on the topic of faithfulness and the challenges in our walks as Christians to accept and give forgiveness, and also seeking Truth and Hope.
“Lead Me” is a surefire hit and is a musical response to Matt Hammitt’s wife Sarah imploring him to be a better spiritual leader in their marriage and for their two young children. Having been married for 15 years and having three young daughters, this song moves me the most on the entire album. This song is a “must own” for all husbands, fathers and young men looking for an honest portrayal of the prayer of a Christian man asking God to lead their lives. I could see this song being a worship anthem for Promise Keepers. “The Redeemer,” “Take Over Me” and “I Want To Get Lost” are another trilogy of songs that focus on the central themes of asking God to inhabit our inner being and truly allow the power of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us.
“’Til I Got To Know You,” “Dear Heart,” and closing song “Keep My Heart Alive” are another great trilogy of songs that focus on the theme of relying solely on the love of Jesus to truly mold our hearts and make us more like Him. “I’ll Show You How To Live” is another personal song like “Lead Me,” but written to Matt’s children in the style of “Boys (Lesson One)” by Jars of Clay. For me, “Forgiven,” “These Things Take Time,” “Lead Me,” “The Redeemer,” “’Til I Got To Know You” and “I’ll Show You How To Live” are among the best songs ever recorded by this great band. I ranked We Need Each Other my #2 album of 2008 and expect I'll find Pieces of a Real Heart in a similar position in 2010. Best overall album by one of the premier bands in Christian music.
This album is very personal and engaging. If you like Leeland, MercyMe and Jars of Clay, then you will enjoy Sanctus Real, whose musical style I consider a great blend of alternative rock and worship. I expect multiple hit songs to emerge from this album. Sanctus Real has really hit the mark with Pieces of a Real Heart.
HONEST PROSE ELONGATES BAND'S MUSICAL STAY| Posted March 23, 2010
With the first single from Sanctus Real's fifth studio recording, Pieces of a Real Heart, already tearing up the charts and making an indelible impression on fans old and new, the pop/rock quintet should be mightily pleased. But with a track listing that nakedly explores the state of sin, its effect on sinners and the plight for salvation, I have a feeling the Sanctus boys were focused less on marketing strategies and more concerned about tackling the personal ups and downs of devotion to the Supernatural.
Amid bells and banjos and an unforgettably rousing chorus, "Forgiven," the aforementioned lead single, mounts to a poignant symphony of self-revelation, admitting, "I know what I've been/But here in your arms, I know what I am." "These Things Take Time" continues the learning, lyrically oscillating between vulnerable questioning ("Why am I so afraid of the dark/But I stray from the light?") and perpetual surrender ("I wanna know all the answers/But I'm learning these things take time") accompanied by the record's most straightforward and infectious track, giving the idea that doubt is not so much a passageway to disbelief but rather an entryway into faith.
"Lead Me" ushers a mid-tempo ballad akin to Mat Kearney as lead singer Matt Hammitt digs deep to dissect his role as the spiritual leader of his home. And album closer "Keep My Heart Alive" coats the band's raw prayer ("Take these empty hallelujahs/Fill my lungs again") with a moving string quartet and Hammitt's passionate vocal.
After nearly a decade in the industry and with the onslaught of trendy rock bands saturating radio and retail, Sanctus Real might wonder if it still has a relevant foothold in popular Christian music. The honest lyrical and musical charm of Pieces of a Real Heart should quell the questioning. -Andrew Greer
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from CCMMagazine.com. Click here to visit CCMMagazine.com today!
Music Review: Pieces Of A Real Heart| Posted March 23, 2010
By Brian Hall, Lydia Akinola, & Thomas Jenkins
LABEL: SPARROW RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: MARCH 9, 2010
BRIAN HALL’S RATING: 3.75 OUT OF 5
LYDIA AKINOLA’S RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5
THOMAS JENKINS: 3.5 OUT OF 5
OVERALL RATING: 3.9 OUT OF 5
Brian Hall’s Review:
Sanctus Real is one of the few bands that only gets better with time. From their first album “Say It Loud” to their second album “Fight The Tide” there was a noticeable lyrical difference, but not much musical difference. But with “The Face Of Love” back in 2006, the bands direction as a whole was uprooted. The lyrics were a significant jump above the already high level they had set for themselves, the music was more mature; more Sanctus Real than Relient K. With that album, Matt Hammitt and Co. delivered singles that resounded with CHR & AC audiences alike. Continuing their trend of one-upping themselves they released “We Need Each Other” in 2007, and it was another smash that provides more lyrical depth and musical maturity. Now “Pieces Of A Real Heart” is up to bat, but does it live up to its predecessors very high standards? It does, and it even outdoes all other Sanctus Real albums to date.
From the banjo infused opening track and first radio single, “Forgiven” (which has sat prettily in the top 10 CCM tracks for many weeks now) to the moving and contemplative closer, “Keep My Heart Alive” the guys of Sanctus Real deliver the goods. The album explores themes that are at once personal and universal. “The Way The World Turns” deals with despair and doubt and the comfort and joy that comes from Christ, “I Feel the current pulling me down/Can’t keep the world from turning around/So I keep turning to You… ‘Cause you’re the hope of a new sunrise…”. Even family life is explored with lyrical poise and musical excellence (I was actually reminded of Sara Groves’s most recent album as far as basic lyrical punch goes) on “Lead Me”, “In picture frames, I see my beautiful wife… on the inside, I can hear her saying// Lead me with strong hands/Stand up when I can’t…”. Even an inquisitive and scornful letter to their hearts on “Dear Heart”, “Oh, Heart, you’ve let me down/Chasing love where it can’t be found…”.
All in all this is a five star album that deserves every praise and accolade available. Each track gripped me in different ways. Be it powerful lyrics (which are in no short supply here) or addictive melodies. Hammitt’s vocals are uniformly impeccable and the musicianship is expert. I honestly couldn’t find a single thing to complain about. It isn’t a copy of a previous formula or structure, it’s just Sanctus Real doing what they do best; delivering quality music that is accessible but unique.
Lydia Akinola’s Review:
There is no doubt about it: Sanctus Real deserve their spot as one of Christian music’s favourite bands. Pieces of a Real Heart is splendid, inspiring music, chock-full with that Sanctus Real sound so many of us love.
There is another thing that is clear: Pieces of a Real Heart is no We Need Each Other or Face of Love. Instead of spewing out a rehash of their old hits, the guys in Sanctus Real have done something that should make us sit up and notice. Pieces of a Real Heart signifies a completely new direction for the band, with softer, more melodic tracks than have ever been seen from them before. This new side displays the same captivating music and engaging lyrics as all its predecessors, but also goes to show that Sanctus Real have gone above and beyond what we expected in their fifth LP.
The first single “Forgiven” is the opening track and has already wowed listeners of CCM radio with its engaging message of forgiveness. As an opener is sets the bar for the rest of the album. A real ‘stand-out’ track, exceptional in the depths of what it communicates- is “Lead Me”, a prayer for every father in the land, inspiring be all that they can be. Born out of a personal experience, Matt Hammitt’s voice comes into its own, carrying the entire song beautifully. Almost before we recover, “The Redeemer” picks up emotionally where “Lead Me” left off. Lyrically powerful, the sincerity of the message of trust stays with you long after the song finishes –“I’ve given up on too many things/ But I’m not giving up on You/ Cause You can make anything new”.
Fans of the edgy rock Sanctus Real produce so well will find solace in “Take Over Me”- one of the few rock ballads on Pieces of a Real Heart. The calls for surrender and release are beautiful accompanied by top notch work from Pete Pervost and Dan Gartley. The other louder track – “I Want To Get Lost” offers a fantastic selection of all the best elements of alternative rock. Furthermore, the honest, confessional lyrics avoid trite phrases whilst acknowledging our shortcomings – “It was easy to find my way/Not as easy to get out/Oh the roads to my own rule/Are too easily found”.
What puts Sanctus Real ahead of others in their field are their consistence, their maturity and remarkable musical ability. In terms of consistence, every new record is always an improvement on previous efforts, maintaining what is good, but still pushing at limits that they haven’t tried before. In regards to maturity, Sanctus Real are never afraid to tackle the weighty issues in which we all fall; yet they avoid clichés and stereotyped expressions choosing instead originality, ingenuity, and impact. Pieces of a Real Heart contains some of the best lyrics I have heard from the band. “These Things Take Time” is a perfect example.
How could success make us feel like failures?
And the harder we fall the harder we try
The more I have the more I need
Just to feel like I’m getting by
But these alone do not make bestselling albums. One still needs a solid foundation of truly know how to create a memorable tune, how to mould the perfect song. It is here that Sanctus Real really shine, the music that they create speaks for itself. Pieces of a Real Heart has been created with care and the finished article is truly exceptional. Perfect in almost everyway, this album has been a fantastic addition to my collection of Sanctus Real treasures.
Thomas Jenkins’ Review:
Sanctus Real is one of the biggest forces in the Christian music industry. Their singles, “I’m Not Alright”, and “Whatever You’re Doing (Something Heavenly)” were both very popular, and are a major factor for the band’s popularity. They’ve always been known for delivering catchy pop/rock tunes, and honest, thought provoking lyrics. While that may sound like a lot of Christian bands, Sanctus Real genuinely does it, and manages to put out songs that are both memorable and well crafted.
The first thing that jumped out at me about Sanctus Real’s new album was how polished and smooth it was. It’s evident from the first few minutes (although I’m not a huge fan of the banjo on “Forgiven”) that this is a band that knows exactly what sound they’re going for, and are achieving it very well. There isn’t a single song on Pieces of a Real Heart that isn’t completely sure of where it wants to go, and does a solid job of getting there. Singer Matt Hammit’s voice blends perfectly with the instrumentals, and the various elements of the vocals, guitar, drum and bass parts, and the honest heartfelt lyrics all make Pieces of a Real Heart a great listening experience.
That being said, of course, it’s not perfect. The first issue with the album is the songwriting. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s solid. But if you take the songs here and compare them to other Sanctus Real favorites such as “Eloquent” and “I’m Not Alright”, one can’t help but see that a step down has been taken, however miniscule that step may have been. Other than that, the only main problem is that however polished and smooth it may be, Pieces of a Real Heart seems a bit too safe at times. As I said above, Sanctus Real’s found their sound, and they’re not going to change their formula.
Pieces of a Real Heart is a great album from a band that deserves a great album. It’s hard not to like Sanctus Real when they put out songs as honest as “I’m Not Alright”, as catchy as “Forgiven” and still manage to keep a good bit of creativity in their songwriting. This is a band that can actually create pop/rock songs that are fun, catchy, honest, and not cliché. Despite a couple of minor flaws through the course of the listen, Sanctus Real has crafted another solid album, and it’s well worth your money if you like the band, or their style.
Review copy provided courtesy of Sparrow Records
This review has been reprinted on NRT with permission from The Christian Manifesto. Click here to visit TheChristianManifesto.com today!
3/5| Posted March 09, 2012
The 5th album from Sanctus Real continues the softer sound that was introduced on their last album We Need Each Other. I wasn't as blown away by that album as most other people were and I find the same feeling happening here. I don't hate the album though. The lyrics are fine, the rock songs are well written, and Matt Hammitt's vocals are as strong and honest as ever. It's just that this whole softer sound they are doing now just turns me off of the band a bit.
Pieces of A Real Heart does contain some good things but if you are a fan of the band's first 3 albums, you might be a bit disappointed by this new sound they've taken up.
Sanctus Real "Pieces of a Real Heart" Review| Posted September 22, 2011
I always have been a huge fan of Sanctus Real. Ever since I heard their 2004 smash single "Everything About You" I was hooked. And now, the band has come quite a long way since their rock n' roll days. With their pop turn to their music, is this album worth a buy? Let's get deeper into the album, shall we? (you want to, right?)
Forgiven 4/5 Nice track. The banjo is a great additon to the song and I like the addition of the gang vocals in the album versus the radio single. This song is all about how when we feel completely rejected by God, he is always there.
These Things Take Time 3.5/5 Another great one, the song is a little more upbeat than the opener. It leans a little bit more to their light rock side.
The Way The World Turns 5/5 Rockin track!!! The song talks about how the world will never satisfy us completely, but God will.
Lead Me 5/5 Beautiful song. Tis song is going to be a well remebered one for 'em.
The Reedemer 4/5 The album's current single pretty much has the same message as track one. This song has a nice pounding drum beat.
Take Over Me 5/5 Fav track!!! This is definitly bringin back some old school SR!!! This is the one that I really rock out to!!!
I Want To Get Lost 3/5 Rockin and old school like the previous track, but not as good.
Til I Got To Know You 4.5/5 Love Matt Hammit's high vocals and a great pop tune.
Dear Heart 4.5/5 Another good one, witha great message about listening to God, not our hearts.
I'll Show You How To Live 3/5 Beatiful song lyrically, I think it's written to Bowen.
Keep My Heart Alive 3/5 Not a great closer.
Overall, this album is proabaly one of their strongest efforts, so please check this album out!!!
Album Rating: 8/10
Sanctus Real write from the "Real Heart"| Posted September 21, 2010
Pieces of a Real Heart is fairly different to past albums from Sanctus Real. They are well renowned for their guitar-driven rock songs, but the only evidence of a rock song is Track 6, “Take Over Me” which brings back the traditional Sanctus Real sound, at the same time delivering the inspirational lyrics and message that the band aimed for with this album. So, if you are a rock fan or prefer the sound on the band’s other albums, then you won’t like this album as much. Sanctus Real uses a diverse range of sounds, such as the clever use of the banjo in the first single “Forgiven”. The album is produced by Christopher Stevens (tobyMac, Matthew West) and Jason Ingram (Tenth Avenue North, Bebo Norman). Jason Ingram is a well know contemporary Christian and worship producer, so his production of this album might have had some influence on the softer sound.
The main theme of this album is very clear. It is a reflection of the band’s goal to write honest songs that reflect their struggles in life, hence the title Pieces of a Real Heart.
A great song off the album is the lead single "Forgiven". The thing I love about this song is the big build up in the intro with guitars, drums and the banjo. This song is also about forgiveness and there is one key line in the chorus that shows the whole purpose of the song. “I don’t have to carry the weight of who I am, ‘cause I’m forgiven!” Forgiven is a great song but unfortunately it isn’t the biggest thing off this album.
Another song that needs recognition is Track 2 "These Things Take Time". This is a bouncy rock tune, but the rock is too a small extent. I find this song extremely catchy and easy to sing along to. The brief guitar instrumental is also very interesting because of it’s almost blues guitar sound.
The absolute stand out on the album and in my opinion the best song in Contemporary Christian music at the moment, is “Lead Me”. This song has been an incredible hit on Christian radio and it’s not hard to see why. This song is deeply personal and surrounds Matt Hammit’s as a husband, father and a man in need of God’s direction to be the best leader for his family. Matt cries out to God to lead him in his role and to be the best father and husband he can be. This song is very emotional and it has brought many listeners to tears.
In conclusion, if you’re a long-time fan of Sanctus Real (which I’m not) then you won’t enjoy this album as much because of its gentler pop and radio-friendly sound. This is a brand new band for me and I have enjoyed Sanctus Real’s positive message and inspirational tunes. In some places the sound is fairly single-channeled, but the album is very encouraging and personal. So if you’re ever going through any hard times in your Christian walk, Sanctus Real’s music has the ability to bring you closer to God.
Love It!| Posted March 22, 2010
I love this album. I've been waiting for a while to get it. The lyrics are awesome and a lot of the songs have a slower beat. I'm still not sure if it's better than their previous album "We Need Each Other" but it's definetly a good one to have in your collection.
Awesome Album!!| Posted March 15, 2010
I absolutely would recommend this album! You can tell that these guys truly love God. Of course it includes the hit single "Forgiven" but there are so many great songs it is extremely difficult to choose a favorite. Now they also have a deluxe edition which features 5 acoustic songs including Forgiven. It also includes a very cute song about lead singer Matt Hammitt’s family called Lead Me. One of my personal favorites was Keep My Heart Alive. I loved the lyrics “Take these empty hallelujahs, fill my lungs again, cuz I wanna sing and I wanna mean it, I wanna feel again.” I think we all feel a little lost and need to feel God’s love and support and I think this cd covers that well. They have very original and relatable lyrics. There really isn’t even one song that I dislike. So if you are considering buying this I highly recommend it!