#4 - So Natural, Salvador
I first came across Salvador at a Christian music event in Stoke called Passion. I'd never heard of them, and din't know what to expect, but they totally rocked my socks off. As you might have guessed from the name, Salvador are fundamentally a latin-pop-rock Christian band. Quite an ensemble too, with eight musicians credited on the CD sleeve. The Salvador sound is funky, driven by two percussion players and the best bass player I've ever seen, fleshed out with both delicate and meaty guitar sounds, rhythmic piano and a grooving horn section.
These guys are serious musicians, and their 2004 album, So Natural, is a feast for the ears. There's a lot of variety packed into 12 tracks, with songs appearing at most points of the pop-rock continuum. We kick off with Can You Feel (The Supernatural), a raucous party of a track that sets the up-beat tone of the whole album. Before too long, however, Salvador recline into This is My Life, something more reminiscent of a boy-band hit, with a cameo chorus of How Great Thou Art.
At around track five, It Comes Back to You, the serious rocking gets underway, which comes to a climax during the insane funk of For More Than Ourselves, which shows off the bands musicianship with reckless bars of 7/8 in the verse (it, like, sounds like they just missed a beat out). The contour of the album continues into some deliciously smooth pop tunes before winding right down to the title track (and, in fact, my least favourite) So Natural.
But then, suddenly, as a glorious finale, a live recording of La Palabra kicks your stereo back into action. This is the most purely latin track on the album, and is the only one sung entirely in Spanish. Having heard several infectious Spanish tunes at Passion I was slightly disappointed not to hear more on the CD, but at least I can understand the rest of them.
There is almost as much variety in the lyrical content as there is in the music. Nic Gonzales is most often heard singing about his personal relationship with God. There are moments of real tenderness and surrender amongst the partying. Heaven is a song about someone getting tired of life on earth, who keeps asking God from the back seat of a luggage-filled car "how far is heaven?" It Comes Back to You is a tuneful reminder to the listener that you reap what you sow.
So Natural is the most unique Christian album I own, and the band is quite possibly the most talented. I'd really love to see them live again at some point. Anyone fancy a trip to Nashville?