Music Review: Kinetic by Joel Vaughn

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Updated January 02, 2019
Music Review: Kinetic by Joel Vaughn
Joel Vaughn - "Truth About Me"
Joel Vaughn - "Wide Awake"

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Track Listing

Wide Awake
March On
Truth About Me
Far Away
Wide Awake (Chris Howland Remix)
Hysteria (David Thulin Remix)

Joel Vaughn is a singer/songwriter based out of Amarillo, Texas. Growing up in the South Joel was influenced by an abundance of different genre’s like country and rock but none were closer to his heart than pop and contemporary music. Joel started singing in his local church at the age of seven and he has kept going ever since.

Known as “the singer” of an all-musical family, Joel originally taught himself to play guitar at age 14, simply to keep up with his siblings, all of whom played instruments. But his love of playing didn’t stop at guitar, and he also decided to pick up the drums and piano as well. By the time he was a teenager he was writing songs & playing whatever musical instruments he could get his hands on.

Joel studied at West Texas A&M University, and he began to lead worship for student ministries and churches in the area. Over the last 11 years as a worship leader in Texas, he has released three independent albums. All of these albums featured the rock and worship styles that he grew up with, but as he continued to progress, Joel found himself evolving and he began to create songs that leaned more toward the pop genre.

For his label debut EP, “Kinetic” shows Joel in a whole new light—with ultra-smooth, effortless vocals and cleverly written pop tracks—now ready to take on the nation with God’s message of hope, love, and desire to draw all to Him.

His southern drawl, humility, and nice boy looks remind you where he comes from, but his new sound will show the world where Joel Vaughn is headed. Settling in to deeper and modern music and lyrics—Joel’s voice truly shines and it is clear that he is home.

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If you've heard of Joel Vaughn in the past then it's probably as a lead worshipper who has released a few worship albums. Underneath the surface though, it seems, Joel was looking for an outlet to release his "pop" side. This has now happened with this EP release of Kinetic. That's not to say that this album doesn't have elements of worship to it, because there is still a strong backbone of God honouring content that runs through this album.

This release is the first to benefit from a little bit more investment now that he is signed to Dream Records. It is immediately clear from the working of the first intro track that a lot of thought and production has gone on to make this album the best quality that it could be. There is a whole electronic orchestral feel to this opening track that works quite nicely as an opener for the first full track "Wide Awake". This is a full on Electro Dance track complete with stomping bass beat and electronic key patterns showing a development of the sound. Lyrically this is straight there, no beating around the bush, "Can't fix a bullet with a band aid, You can try to hide it but your heart's still bleeding out." This is a song about the Holy Spirit being the fire in the Christian and works really well with the faster paced dance style. In fact it's exactly what I love in the Christian market place where there is true balance of style and substance.

Hysteria is a mid-tempo track that is about life with God. Life isn't simple with God, He takes you further than you ever expected to go, the relationship with God brings a contradiction between life and life in Him. Nothing makes sense but everything makes sense at the same time. This ballad is hard to grasp on the first couple of listens and may be confusing for some without the lyrics - of course if you are someone who doesn't pay too much attention to the lyrics then there is plenty to get you moving.

We are now about halfway through the meat of this release and the final three tracks have a very different feel to them. Losing the EDM backing we have the guitar led "March On" which is an encouragement to continue on in the Christian life despite the things of life that try to pull us to the left or the right. This song along with "The Truth About Me" really allow the listener to get the real sense of the vocals with different parts and harmonies being used from Joel giving a clear indication of the vocal range. It's no wonder that he was considered to be the "singer" of the family. This track has a very 90's style to it and this time is led by keys with some simple percussion. All of this is to affirm that "The Truth About Me" is what God says. We give ourselves so many labels, but the truth is what God says about us!

The final track of this trio is another piano led track that brings us to a place that is a little bit more upbeat, musically. Looking at the idea that so many people feel that God is far away, when actually He is close and wants to be involved in your life. Again the vocals shine through brightly as one of the highlights of this track.The last two tracks on the album are remixes of "Wide Awake" and "Hysteria". While the "Wide Awake" remix does little to change the first full track, but the remix of Hysteria makes it like a different song.

The lyrics from every track have multiple layers of depth which reveal more as you unpack Joel's ideas. There are some clever images employed which help the listener to identify with the heart and meanings behind the tracks and bring the songs to life. The brilliant vocals of tracks 4,5 & 6 really show off that Joel has a brilliant voice, something that isn't as obvious from his initial tracks as the music can outweigh the vocal skill.

If you are looking for some cleverly written songs with some beautiful male vocals then Joel Vaughn is definitely someone you should consider.

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