Between 1998 and 2001 Sanctus Real released three independent albums. After signing with Sparrow Records their first two albums were 2002’s SAY IT LOUD and 2004’s FIGHT THE TIDE. In 2006 they put out THE FACE OF LOVE (Sparrow). It was nominated for a Dove Award for ‘Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year’. It reached #10 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart and peaked at #158 on the Billboard 200. The album was produced and mixed by Christopher Stevens and the group’s roster at the time was: Matt Hammitt (vocals), Chris Rohman (guitars), Mark Graalman (drums), and new bassist Dan Gartley.
‘I’m Not Alright’ was the album’s lead single and a #1 hit for the band. It was also nominated for ‘Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year’ at the Dove Awards. These lyrics display great vulnerability: “Can I lose my need to impress?/If You want the truth, I need to confess/I’m not alright/I’m broken inside, broken inside/And all I go through/It leads me to You (2X)/Burn away the pride/Bring me to my weakness/Until everything I hide behind is gone”. ‘Eloquent’ is an energetic rocker that includes these words of confession: “I am difficult, argumentative/’Bout as thick skulled as the dinosaur bones/On a display in a glass case/I can’t believe you haven’t run away”. ‘Fly’ is a melodic song that continues the honesty lyrically: “I’m overwhelmed when there’s too much/Hiding the view to all that You’ve done/I step back to see how far we’ve come/And You’re always with me/When I’m trying to fly against the wind/But I keep on falling back to where I’ve been/Yeah, I’m trying to fly against the wind/Start over again”.
The title track, ‘The Face of Love’, is a lovely ballad about Jesus Christ: “I’ve read Your words in the pages of Your life/And I’ve imagined what You were like/And I may not know the shape of Your face/But I can feel Your heart changing mine/And Your love still proves You’re alive/The face of love (2X)/You look more like love everyday”. ‘Don’t Give Up’ was the band’s second #1 hit from this album. It’s a terrific rock song about marriages: “Well, I heard you say you would love for a lifetime/And now you complain a lifetime just doesn’t feel right for you/Another casualty of casual love/Another soul out of place, a heart that gave up/Why do we break the promises we make?/Are we living for ourselves?/Don’t give up on love and throw it all away/Don’t give up on love and let it fall away”.
Christopher Stevens plays the Wurlitzer and Paul Moak plays the Moog on the hard rocking ‘We’re Trying’. It offers the following assessment of life: “Everyone wants reality, so here it is/I believe that nobody is good, nobody is good/We are liars and thieves, we’re destroying the peace/But we’re trying, we’re trying, we’re trying/It’s the same regression to the lives that we all lead/Everyone makes mistakes, but we find grace/We believe that there’s redemption, there’s redemption”. ‘Thank You’ is a grateful testimony: “There are new horizons with colors that I’ve never seen/The sky is filled with graces since You have carried me/I felt so far beyond Your reach, but You gave everything for me/I was lost but then You rescued my life/Why in the world did You come after me?/Thank You (2X)/Words aren’t enough, but for now I can say/Thank You (2X)”.
‘Magnetic’ is a quiet song about God’s love: “You’re magnetic/I can’t help it, I’m stuck on You/There’s something magic in the way that You love me/I’m stuck on You/I know I have the freedom to decide/You don’t make me love You/I just can’t deny the force of gravity/And You are the ground that keeps me standing here with You, with You”. ‘Possibilities’ is a fast paced and optimistic rocker: “Now is the time to make up our minds/And live like this is the last day/That we have a chance to put it on the line/And run away to the best time of our lives/Cause I still believe that we can do anything/We don’t have to live memories/Time can turn our dreams to reality/Oh, the possibilities”.
‘Where We Belong’ is a cry for unity: “Break away the walls/Carry us to where we belong/Make a way for us to follow grace so we can love everyone the same/Can I learn to drop my guard and show someone my heart?/Break the vice of stereotypes that keep us apart/I’m no stranger to the feeling of being insecure and out of place”. Last up is the reflective ‘Benjamin’: “Rain falls outside/I think the sky must know what’s happening tonight/Children born while fathers die/It’s that circle of life that we all live in time.../And He gives and He takes/And it makes us strong”.
THE FACE OF LOVE is an awesome rock music record! I love the electric guitar work on it. Refreshingly, the lyrics are very honest and make it clear that even we Christians go through some very tough times! As individuals we can feel alone and isolated. Hope can seem elusive. But these songs don’t leave us in despair. They point us to a God who loves and cares for us and wants to be in a harmonious relationship with Himself. He is not far off and aloof. I’m rating this project a perfect 100% and recommending it to fans of the rock sounds of Switchfoot, Nickelback, and Audio Adrenaline. For more info visit: www.sanctusreal.com.