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  Across the Sky
Artist:  Across the Sky
Label:  Word/Curb/Warner Brothers
Length:  12 Tracks/43:50

Ben Kolarcik and Justin Unger-the brand spankin new duo known as Across the Sky met in the hallways of the label. As they spent time together, hanging out and writing music, they realized that there was a greater plan at work. The result? A self-titled CD featuring a pleasant mix of pop rock with some nice production touches to spice up the mix here and there. A virtual army of songwriters and co-songwriters (the likes of Scott Krippayne, Jason Ingram, Cindy Morgan, Michael W. Smith, and Amy Grant) step to the plate with able assistance to add a veteran dimension to this debut CD.

 One of the strengths of this project is that both Ben and Justin trade lead vocals and harmonize together wonderfully--Ive always been a sucker for strong vocals and groups with several lead vocalists.  A comparison to PFR is somewhat appropriate--although musically Across the Sky would fall more into the current top 40 sound.

Standout cuts:  “Give it All Away” features a killer hook and guitar riff-this song is the one that reminds me the most of the late, great PFR. “Everywhere She Goes” is a love song with a classy Leslie-guitar effect and a cool bridge. “When I Open My Eyes” is a nice tasty power pop confection, “Broken World” is a strong ballad that features a standout vocal performance-this song addresses Jesus directly and showcases a lovely understated string arrangement. Written with Cindy Morgan and Jeremy Bose, “First Love Song” is my favorite cut of the CD-a song that starts slow and builds to an exciting crescendo. There are a few filler-type songs (“Do You Dream of Me”--the Michael W. Smith/Amy Grant cut is unnecessary), but all-around the songs are fairly strong.

Across the Sky delivers a fine debut CD-a good soundtrack for a Sunday drive or around the house jamming. This debut should appeal to a broad range of modern listeners tastes. The only drawback is the lyrics can be a tad standard CCM-ish (are they talking about the Lord or their girlfriend?).  In the quest to straddle the mainstream as well as Christian markets this seems to be a hallmark of many current CCM CD releases. As these fellows continue to develop as artist and find their voice perhaps this minor qualm will be addressed. In the meantime, load up the new Across the Sky CD and get ready to be transported to a pop rock wonderland of tasty sounds and melodies.

Barry Nothstine 11/9/2003

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