Boyd United preaches the gospel on his spiritual new album, ‘Broken’.
Having seamlessly transitioned into a competent solo artist, the Atlanta based virtuoso continues his musical quest, with the intimacy of his newly released album, ‘Broken’, offering a spiritual outlook on life. Fusing elements of Hip-Hop, R&B and Country, Boyd United applies the skills he possessed as frontman of a contemporary Christian band, and projects these into a deeply personal project, whose introspection evokes a powerful listen.
The title track, ‘Broken’, immediately opens the album with a sombre ambience, as the reflective tone of the piano melody lays the foundation for United’s passionate vocal harmonies. Attributing his personal growth to his devoted relationship with God, the Atlanta musician remarks, “the old me has passed away”, as the melancholia diminishes and presents United in a more definitive mindset, allowing him to conquer heartbreak through his affinity with “The Father”. Similar themes are explored across the liberating acoustic track ‘No More’, where United sings about “letting go of my selfishness”. As the woven melodies float across the tranquil guitar strumming, United’s emotions quickly become enhanced, with the lyrics “you took me with all my flaws” showcasing the acceptance of God, and how being in touch with his religious and spiritual mind has helped forge a new beginning.
This sense of belonging is a prevalent theme throughout the playlist, as United proceeds to find comfort in the presence of God on the acoustic track, ‘Your Time’. With the sound of the ukulele complimenting United’s husky vocals, he defiantly protests “quit trying to do it on your own”, reinforcing this sense of protection he feels having found himself at one with religion. As sang on the melodious ‘Long Way From Home’, United showcases a more nonchalant side to his personality, where his ode to “my rock, my refuge, my salvation” is infectious in its motivational qualities. But despite his pride and strong connection with the Lord, United remains aware of the incessant mental challenges which lie ahead of him, and proceeds to address these conflicts on the eerie slow-burner, ‘Confessions’. Though the grimy guitar loop and lagging tempo help magnify the gloom of the track, the intense atmosphere rather dwindles as the chorus addresses the devil’s hostility with the lyric, “said ooo – shut your mouth”. While this lyric may be too cheesy for some, the significance of its overarching theme can’t be disputed, as the conflicts addressed throughout the track will undoubtedly resonate with many listeners.
Thematically, The Atlanta songwriter’s focus is razor sharp, with his intuitive lyricism intertwining with the overarching religious themes of the project. This translates over to the instrumentals, where the minimalist acoustic trap beats provide the emotional and melancholic backdrop which has been associated with many impactful SoundCloud rap projects. This style can be heard most prominently on ‘Your Love’, where United’s rasping vocals project a heartfelt chorus whose country inflections produce a catchy refrain. On the flip side, it’s the same minimalist approach which causes certain tracks to sound rough around the edges. This is the case on ‘Your Time’, where the prominent vocals on the second verse are so high in the mix it ends up suppressing the ethereality of the instrumentation, preventing it from evoking emotions to the extent it perhaps should have.
But despite these minor imperfections, the back end of the project explores some experimentation, as the spiralling electronic elements induce an exuberant early-2000s R&B atmosphere on ‘Only You’. This stylistic change is welcomed, and seemingly brings out a new side to United, who flaunts his tight flows and impressive rhyming abilities on what is an extremely soulful track. This experimentation is also a factor on ‘A Crystal Day’, where United’s dynamic vocal performance is greeted with some shoegaze elements which help enhance the sentimental tone of the track.
“The gospel is what I preach” is what he sings on ‘Confessions’, and this line is certainly indicative of the spiritual themes explored throughout ‘Broken’. Despite some cheesy one-liners and rough mixes, United’s performance across this project is passionate, bold, and motivational. Remaining focused and coherent throughout, he delivers some moving vocal performances, whose introspective lyrics craft a deeply personal record which is certainly worth your time.
Favourite Tracks: Broken, No More, Only You
Least Favourite Track: Confessions