David Austin Black
This review takes me back. I haven’t listened to Hawk Nelson since I was 15, and apparently their guitarist is now also their lead vocalist (Jason Dunn, the previous lead vocalist, is pursuing a solo project). As far as I can tell, Diamonds is only the second full-length album with Jonathan Steingard providing vocals. While his voice is not as iconic as Jason Dunn’s, it definitely gets the job done, and well.
Positivity reigns throughout this album, as was the case with the old Hawk Nelson. The title track starts things off with a bang, and it speaks of the power that Jesus has to take our dust and it into “Diamonds.” I’m not sure if this was intended, but the double-entendre “When the pressure is on / He’s making diamonds” made me laugh quite a lot. “Drops In the Ocean” continues the theme of praising how much Christ loves us in spite of how little we can offer. Like some other songs on the record, it does have that “ready to be played on K-LOVE” sheen, but does well in spite of this.
“Live Like You’re Loved” is a thoughtful appeal to those who live life restricted by something, rather it be a sin or a faulty belief pattern. Since we are loved by Jesus and he has removed all our guilt and shame, we should be able to live with a joy that makes others wonder what is wrong with us. Christians shouldn’t still live like they’re slaves to sin! “Thank God for Something” is also about Christian living, specifically about gratitude. “Happiness should never be a slave to revenue” is one of the best lyrics on the entire album, and it’s found on this track.
Another notable song on the album is “Made to Live.” It has the energy that Hawk Nelson is known for and the encouraging lyrics that are prevalent throughout this album. Although it is very much like many of the songs on Diamonds, I believe it is the best expression of the formula that dominates the this entry.. Thankfully, Hawk Nelson deviates from this blueprint with the last song on the album. “Only You” is an acoustic guitar-driven track that really showcases Steingard’s vocals. It’s slower than any of the other songs on the album, and demonstrates that Hawk Nelson is still capable of developing their sound further, and I will most definitely be looking forward to in their next release.
In summary, Hawk Nelson is doing fairly well without Jason Dunn. Jonathan Steinman has proven that he can fill the gap that was left by Dunn’s absence by leading the production of an album that is every bit as strong as the band’s previous endeavors. While there is some lack in sonic variation through most of the recording, I find no weakness aside from that one issue. Hawk Nelson is still unashamedly proclaiming their love for Jesus Christ through music, and Diamonds is another great release from a band that will hopefully be around for some time to come.
+ Very upbeat
+ Unashamedly Christian lyrics
- Has some of that typical CCM feel
- Bit repetitive at times