Review Summary: My Epic offers much more to enjoy than a mere acoustic EP suggests.
My Epic's second album Yet was a surprise standout of 2010, as thoughtful as it was forceful. Boasting a much tighter and more memorable set of songs than their debut and a more original vision than the group's somewhat derivative post-hardcore EP, Yet succeeded in just about every respect. Not especially excited about minimalist acoustic strumming, I was disappointed when I learned that Broken Voice would supposedly be an acoustic EP rather than a full album.
But to my surprise, Broken Voice is every bit as worthy of one's attention as its predecessor. Even in a stripped-down acoustic format the group excels at making songs that are as musically interesting as they are lyrically compelling. If anything, the band sounds more natural than ever exploring slightly more fleshed-out arrangements than the power trio format that's driven their sound on I Am Undone and Yet.
Opening tracks “Centuries” and “Beloved” are moody and understated, the latter being a lyrical highlight told from the perspective of Jesus' apostle John at the end of his life. Like My Epic's best music, it skillfully weaves desperation and hope into a seamless composition. “Alone” quickly wakes up the listener with its methodical clapping and dynamic chorus. The addition of piano and strings gives the song an earthy quality while the lyrics recall the stark nature of songs like Yet's “Lower Still” and enters territory that Christian artists rarely explore.
For a collection of outtakes the EP sounds remarkably consistent, and the overall style of the release (probably heavily inspired by Thrice's 'Earth' section of The Alchemy Index) doesn't feel too out of place for the band. It's actually much more convincing than the group's heavier songs, like "Pour" and "Ashes" from Yet, and Broken Voice's compositions allow the band to perform the more melodic style they do best.
“Deathbed” is less ornate than the preceding song with only acoustic guitar to accompany the vocals, but fortunately the guitar is always interesting enough to make up for the rest of the band's absence. No chord-strumming here; instead, we are treated to carefully-picked melodies that sound simply beautiful. “Lazarus” is even better, with a warm and almost hopeful tone that's different from the minor-key stylings that dominate the other songs.
“Garden” is probably the most intimate song on the album, its lyrics stark and powerful regardless of whether one shares the group's Christian faith. The bridge makes a compelling case for the prettiest-sounding moment on the album. “Childbodybride” has an almost blues-inspired sound and electric guitar, but doesn't feel out of place and comes to a beautiful climax. “Doxology” is a nice take on the Christian hymn that brings the album to an appropriate close and makes this review wish the band would just go ahead and record a full-blown worship album.
Few contemporary Christian artists can boast the raw creativity, musically and lyrically, of My Epic. The group's songwriting bears a stark, uncompromising quality that is leagues above the generic themes of similar artists. As this album continues to show, My Epic is a remarkably honest band, and the sentiments expressed by their music flow naturally from within rather than being shoehorned into the music to attract a certain crowd. The result is another record that anyone can enjoy regardless of their faith, which shows that My Epic is in their own league.