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No Gift to Bring

  • reviewed by Andrea Dawn Goforth Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Nov
No Gift to Bring
Sounds like … the acoustic emo-rock of Dashboard Confessional, Death Cab for Cutie, and Phil Wickham with a twist of Postal Service type remixing.At a glance … The Almost gives us a taste what's to come with a new emo track, and throws in some b-side type remixing. Track ListingAwful DirectionLittle Drummer BoyAmazing Because It Is (full version)Your Love Is ExtravagantDirty and Left Out (McTague-lectro version)

Clearly, Underoath drummer/singer Aaron Gillispie doesn't want you to forget his side work as The Almost. With a full length album on the way, but not quite ready yet, Gillespie is tiding fans over with No Gift to Bring. This 5-song EP throws in a new song, a Christmas song, a cover song, and a couple of re-mixed songs from previous album Southern Weather. Gillespie and The Almost don acoustic guitars and tambourines to create an intimate feel throughout No Gift to Bring. Since there's just one new original, you may be rightly wondering if iTunes is the way to go here.

The Christmas tune and cover are not reason enough to buy this EP. The Almost's choppy, Dashboard Confessional version of "Little Drummer Boy" challenges Gillespie's vocal range and quality as he screams "Me and my drum!" while accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. And his cover of Darrel Evans' worshipful original "Your Love is Extravagant" has a bit of a campfire intimacy to its acoustic style. Gillespie performs it well vocally, but since nothing about the structure or feel of the song is changed, he doesn't succeed in making it his own.

The new version of "Amazing Because It Is" rolls in with full drums that really drive the song from beginning to end. However, while fans will appreciate a different spin on an old favorite, the new mix has the climactic choir section pushed way down, and that causes the song to lose some of its intensity. A remix of "Dirty and Left Out" goes Postal Service with the programmed drum track and electronics, and while that makes a creative end to the EP, it drags a bit and ultimately doesn't do anything to improve on the song.

That just leaves "Awful Direction," the new song that contrary to the title, suggests a new and more genuine direction for Gillespie's writing. With surprisingly emotional vocals and deeply felt lyrics, it's the best thing about this EP (and might be the only one worth buying as a download—hint hint). As an interim project offering a taste of what's to come, No Gift to Bring sparks our curiosity. On its own, though, this EP is something that only diehard fans can appreciate in its entirety.

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