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Beautiful Imperfection

  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Oct
Beautiful Imperfection
Sounds like … earthy jam rock reminiscent of Dave Matthews Band, John Butler Trio, Damien Rice, Marc Broussard, and Hokus Pick.At a glance … socially conscious lyrics, impressive musicianship, and dynamic arrangements make Beautiful Imperfection almost perfect.Track Listing Prelude
Fall With Me
Beautiful Imperfection
The Beach
March Out
I'm Not Ready
The Piano Wails
Throw Me a Rope
Love Can't Find You

They say a book should never be judged by its cover, and that same principle applies to band names as well. At first blush, Fort Pastor sounds like a fortress for army chaplains. The truth is that their moniker comes from the zombie movie Dawn of the Dead—not what you'd expect from a Christian rock outfit, right?

The unusual influence is just one of many surprises with this Orlando-based group. Particularly intriguing is Fort Pastor's brand of acoustic jam rock heard on Beautiful Imperfection. Part Dave Matthews Band, part John Butler Trio, the sound is rich, earthy, and multi-faceted thanks to some left-of-center instrumentation that includes xylophone and didgeridoo.

Unlike so many other previous musicians who have flirted with a rootsy style, Fort Pastor never tries to make the final result sound too perfect. The band's loose improvisational style, especially on their reinterpretation of Seal's "Crazy," gives listeners a preview of what they can expect in a concert setting. That live feel, especially on the call-to-action title track and the funky, pensive strains of "Trouble" (a cover from Harry Connick Jr.'s 1994 album She) makes all the difference.

The stellar sound wouldn't be nearly as memorable without some witty, well-written lyrics to match. Since one of the band's biggest platforms is humanitarian issues—something they foster through the work of their Social Justice Army foundation—the songs also reflect a desire to make a difference in the world, whether it's taking a stand against homelessness or promoting fair trade. Avoiding cliché s, "March Out" challenges Christians through satire to leave apathy and selfishness behind to make changes for good: "I know I said I'd help you, but I forgot that I'd rather not/You see my time, it's just not free/If I help you, I can't help me." Such tongue-in-cheek wordplay is what makes socially-minded songs like "The Beach" and "Throw Me a Rope" surprisingly effective and enjoyable in getting the message across.

Socially conscious lyrics, impressive musicianship, and dynamic arrangements—Beautiful Imperfection is almost perfect. A rare triumph in the realm of Christian music, and Fort Pastor makes it sound easy.

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