Undone (MercyMe album)
|Studio album by MercyMe|
|Released||April 20, 2004|
|Recorded||Blueberry Hill, Sound Stage, Abbey Road, The Indigo Room, Maximedia, Luminous Sound, The Schwoodio|
|Genre||Christian rock, pop rock, adult contemporary|
Undone is the third studio album by Christian rock band MercyMe. It was produced by Pete Kipley and released on April 20, 2004 on INO Records. Following the success of MercyMe's previous studio efforts, they were given significantly more resources with which to develop the album and brought in a sixth member, guitarist Barry Graul. Unlike the band's previous songwriting style, which was to write the lyrics first, they wrote the music for the songs on the album before writing the lyrics. The album has a pop rock and adult contemporary sound, while the lyrics are personal and convey Christian themes.
Undone received generally favorable reviews from critics with many praising the album's personal style, although some critics argued the album's songwriting and sound were too similar to MercyMe's previous efforts. It won the GMA Dove Award for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year at the 36th GMA Dove Awards. In the United States, Undone debuted at number twelve on the Billboard 200 and at number one on the Billboard Christian Albums chart, selling over 55,000 copies in its first week. It spent a total of two weeks atop the Christian Albums chart and was the fifth-best selling Christian album of 2004 and the fourteenth best-selling Christian album of 2005. Undone has sold over 627,000 albums in the United States and was the thirty-eighth best-selling Christian album of the 2000s.
Three official singles were released from Undone. "Here with Me", the album's lead single, was released to Christian and mainstream radio, peaking at number one on the Billboard Christian Songs and Hot Christian AC charts as well as at number twelve on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The second single from the album, "Homesick", peaked at number three on the Billboard Christian Songs and Hot Christian AC charts and at number nine on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The third single, "In The Blink Of An Eye", peaked at number one on the Christian Songs and Hot Christian AC charts.
Background and recording
Following the success of the band's previous albums Almost There and Spoken For, MercyMe was given "significantly" more resources to develop their next record by their record label, INO Records. Although they decided not to alter their Christian approach to songwriting, live performances, and interviews, they opted to work with outside songwriters on the album, employed the London Symphony Orchestra to play strings on several tracks, and added a sixth member to the band, guitarist Barry Graul. Additionally, MercyMe wrote and recorded the music for Undone before they wrote any of the lyrics. Lead singer Bart Millard noted that by using this method, instead of his lyrics swaying the musical elements of the song, the music acted as "a canvas with which to write [the lyrics]". He elaborated that "We’ve been making records for 10 years, so anything that sparks creativity... is very much welcomed". The title of the album was inspired by "the unexpected twists and turns in the band's journey"; Millard commented that "We had our plans for what we were going to do; but when the bigger picture happened, all of our plans came unraveled. We don’t know what tomorrow will hold. When you make your own plans, you suddenly find yourself undone; and that’s exactly where God wants us in the first place".
Undone was produced by Pete Kipley and was recorded by F. Reid Shippen, Mike O' Connor, and Steve Bishir; recording took place at Blueberry Hill, Sound Stage, Abbey Road, The Indigo Room, Maximedia, Luminous Sound, and The Schwoodio. Mixing was conducted by F. Reid Shippen and Lee Bridges, while mastering was done by Ted Jensen at Sterling Sound. The string tracks on "Homesick", "Where You Lead Me", "Unaware", and "Here with Me" were arranged by Rob Mathes and recorded by Simon Rhodes and Andrew Dudman at Abbey Road. The cello on "Keep Singing" was performed by Matt Slocum.
Songwriting and lyrics
Although he did not focus less on Christian lyrical material for Undone, mainstream radio was on Millard's mind when he wrote the lyrics on the album. Millard attempted to write lyrics that, while still focused on God, tapped into the things people deal with every day. Further, he avoided using Christian jargon, as people who are not churchgoers might not understand what those terms mean; instead, he tried to be "clearer in the things [the band] were talking about". Another impact on the songwriting was the band's experiences over the previous year; while working on Undone, Millard and the other members of the band lost eight people close to them. Millard noted that "There's a lot of personal stuff on [the album] about the things we've gone through and how Christ has been the solution". One particular song, "Homesick", was written after two incidents. The first incident occurred during the holiday season of 2004; a friend of Millard's lost her twin babies during pregnancy and was so far along in the pregnancy that doctors had to induce labor. After attending the funeral for the two babies, Millard wrote the chorus to the song. However, he didn't write any more to "Homesick" after that as he did not want to "fake" his way through writing it. Following the death of his brother-in-law Chris, however, Millard finished the song. Although Undone was "essentially complete" at that point, the band recorded and included it on the album.
The album has been noted as having 'personal' lyrics, a trait that is common for MercyMe. Otherwise, most of the lyrics deal with Christian themes and there is an "abundance" of "spiritually vertical" content. "Here with Me" discusses and conveys the theme of God's love and omnipotence, while "Homesick" focuses on "persevering on earth in anticipation of heaven". The title track describes the human "never-ending quest for self-improvement". "Unaware" and "Caught Up In The Middle" are about making everything in life secondary to God while "Keep Singing" is about "pressing on and praising God in light of tragedy".
Musically, the band regarded the album as a 'new progression'. Bassist Nathan Cochran said that "It’s not a sharp left turn; it’s a step beyond what we’ve ever done. We feel like our message and calling are the same... We’re still worship leaders; we’re just on a different scale". As a whole, Undone is a guitar-driven album with a pop rock and adult contemporary sound. The album's opening track, "Where You Lead Me", builds from an acoustic guitar-driven opening into a crescendo featuring synthesizers and guitars. "Here with Me" has a musical vibe similar to alternative rock band Coldplay. "Homesick" is a ballad featuring strings from the London Symphony Orchestra. More upbeat cuts on the album include "In The Blink Of An Eye", "Caught Up In The Middle", and "A Million Miles Away", while "Keep Singing" is driven by a piano.
|Jesus Freak Hideout|||
Undone received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Although some critics felt the songwriting and music were too similar to the band's previous efforts, others praised the album's 'personal' style. Kim Jones of About.com gave the album five out of five stars, saying that "[the album] has been called by many people as one of the best new releases of 2004 and I have to agree". Johnny Loftus of Allmusic gave it three out of five stars, saying that "With its slick production and MercyMe's full lineup of guitars, percussion, and keys, [Undone] suggests the tangent of Nashville contemporary country that favors straightforward pop melody over any sort of hard twang. Likewise, the album's more upbeat moments reflect the trend in secular adult alternative toward earnest vocals over whitewashed rock (à la Vertical Horizon). Both sounds work well for MercyMe on Undone, doubtless giving fans of the band's music and devotion plenty more to believe in". David McCreary of CCM Magazine gave Undone an A, calling it "[MercyMe's] most mature, personal recording to date", also praising Bart Millard's vocals. Tony Cummings of Cross Rhythms gave the album nine out of ten stars, calling it a "huge improvement" over Spoken For (2002).
While calling Undone MercyMe's "most satisfying" record to date, Russ Breimeier of Christianity Today regarded the songwriting as "monotonous" and felt that MercyMe was "beginning to sound like they're repeating themselves". Josh Taylor of Jesus Freak Hideout gave the album three out of five stars, opining that "Frankly, this is the same stuff they were doing three years and two albums ago... If you’re a diehard MercyMe fan, this disc will be music to your ears. But for those of us who long for change (Not drastic ones, mind you. But small, significant ones.), Undone seems redundant. It’s still good, but it’s beginning to become stale".
Undone sold 55,000 copies in the United States in its first week, MercyMe's highest sales week at that point. It debuted at number twelve on the Billboard 200 and at number one on the Billboard Christian Albums chart, their second career number-one album on the latter. The album's lead single, "Here with Me", played a large part in the early sales of the album by having success on both Christian and mainstream radio. It spent a total of two weeks atop the Christian Albums chart and became the fifth best-selling Christian album of 2004 and fourteenth best-selling Christian album of 2005. It ranked as the thirty-eighth best-selling Christian album of the 2000s in the United States and has sold over 627,000 copies in the United States.
Three official singles were released from Undone. "Here with Me", the album's lead single, topped the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart for thirteen weeks and the Billboard Hot Christian AC chart for ten weeks. It also appeared on mainstream chart formats, peaking at number twelve on the Adult Contemporary chart and number thirty-eight on the Adult Top 40 chart. "Here with Me" ranked at number sixteen on the decade-end Hot Christian Songs and Hot Christian AC charts.
The album's second single, "Homesick", peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot Christian Songs and Hot Christian AC charts and at number one on the Radio & Records Christian AC Indicator and Inspo charts. It also peaked at number nine on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.
The third and final single from Undone, "In the Blink of an Eye", spent five weeks atop the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart and six weeks atop the Billboard Hot Christian AC chart. It ranked at number forty-eight on the 2000s decade-end Hot Christian Songs and Hot Christian AC charts.
All songs written by Jim Bryson, Nathan Cochran, Barry Graul, Pete Kipley, Bart Millard, Mike Scheuchzer and Robby Shaffer except where noted.
|1.||"Where You Lead Me"||3:37|
|3.||"Here With Me"||Jim Bryson, Nathan Cochran, Pete Kipley, Bart Millard, Dan Muckala, Brad Russell, Mike Scheuchzer, Robby Shaffer||4:09|
|4.||"In the Blink of An Eye"||3:16|
|7.||"When You Spoke My Name"||Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Joel Hanson, Kipley, Millard, Scheuchzer, Shaffer||3:37|
|8.||"A Million Miles Away"||3:22|
|9.||"Caught Up In the Middle"||3:24|
|13.||"Keep Singing"||Graul, Kipley, Millard||2:51|
(Credits lifted from the album liner notes)
Charts and certifications
Year-end album charts
Decade-end album charts
|Year||Song||Peak Chart Position|
|2004||"Here with Me"||1||1||12|
|2005||"In the Blink of an Eye"||1||1||-|
Chart procession and succession
The Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot
|Billboard Christian Albums number-one album
May 8, 2004 – May 22, 2004
Wire by Third Day
|United States||April 20, 2004||INO|
|April 20, 2004DualDisc)(||INO/Epic|
|April 20, 2004(Digital)||INO|
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