21:03 - Evolved... From Boys to Men

21:03
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No matter what the genre or the number of players involved, ‘boy bands’ typically come to a crossroads around album #3 and have a choice to make about moving forward: are they going to grow together, grow apart, or get out/go solo? It’s hard maintaining the balance when lifelong friends work together, much less one-time strangers, so it’s saying a lot for their talent and tenacity that Jo’Rel Quinn, Evin Martin and Torrence Greene  (who were assembled from a mass audition of solo artists into a single group back in 2003) are still in the mix, especially after the rocky years between 2008’s Total Attention and their current and third release, Evolved. But back they are, providing catchy, yet compelling, music that draws inspiration from life-threatening illnesses, the death of loved ones and doubting a long-held faith in God.

No matter what the genre or the number of players involved, ‘boy bands’ typically come to a crossroads around album #3 and have a choice to make about moving forward: are they going to grow together, grow apart, or get out/go solo? It’s hard maintaining the balance when lifelong friends work together, much less one-time strangers, so it’s saying a lot for their talent and tenacity that Jo’Rel Quinn, Evin Martin and Torrence Greene  (who were assembled from a mass audition of solo artists into a single group back in 2003) are still in the mix, especially after the rocky years between 2008’s Total Attention and their current and third release, Evolved. But back they are, providing catchy, yet compelling, music that draws inspiration from life-threatening illnesses, the death of loved ones and doubting a long-held faith in God.

Now in their 20s and maturing as people and professionals (their sound is still anchored by the PAJAM production team, but Mr. Martin and Mr. Quinn accrue songwriting credits this time around), 21:03 does a note-worthy job of conveying music with an urban pop edge and sweet, sanctified middle. For the traditionalists, there are beautifully-delivered ballads, such as acoustic love letter to a bride, “Loving You (The Wedding Song),” the stirring “In Your Presence,” “All You Need” and “Still Here,” a powerful testimonial which boasts an old-school, 70s flavored approach and which arose from the pain and spiritual struggles that 2/3s of the trio endured after a ruptured appendix and losing both mother and father to MS and brain cancer (Mr. Greene and Mr. Martin, respectively): “I said it soothes all my doubts and calms my fears/grace that dries up every  one of my tears/The same power that rose Jesus up from the grave/it lives on the inside of me.”

Self-esteem issues and devilish distractions are constant dilemmas for young people, so 21:03 ministers to its fans with songs like the mid-tempo “Hear Your Voice,” which references how friends and social networking can drown out the voice of God, and the opening track, the mesmerizing and modern “Cold World,” a song that pledges to fight the temptations of secular living and remain in the shelter and will of the Lord: “I want everything that He has for me/want the Promised Land and my destiny/let nothing hold me back or knock me off my track/not going back to Egypt tonight.” It’s hard to resist the positive energy behind “Incredible,” “Winner” and “Favor,” all up tempo tracks with a smattering of hip-hop and Auto-Tuning that remind His youthful followers of their blessings and that their Heavenly Father is in control, so ultimately, they can’t lose.

Evolved….From Boys to Men is more than just a catchy title or a way to explain the trio’s more sophisticated style and sound. It describes where life has taken them after their sobering setbacks:  tested and torn, but emerging with a renewed belief in God’s plan and one another. With just enough tradition to please parents and enough of “swag in the spirit” to entice teenagers and 20-somethings, this ten-song set demonstrates that 21:03 has chosen to remain united and take their fans along in the journey ahead as musicians and men. Highly Recommended.

by Melody Charles

 
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