With a slew of uplifting singles and a band name like Blessid Union of Souls, it shouldn’t be a shock to discover that the chart-topping Cincinnati band’s frontman Eliot Sloan puts a lot of stock in his spiritual beliefs. But the band — one of the most commercially successful acts to ever come out of Cincinnati — was rarely overt about religion in its slick, hook-laden Pop songs. Until now. Blessid Union’s new album, The Mission Field (released nationally March 1), is the most direct and explicit expression of Sloan’s Christian beliefs on a BUoS release by a long shot.
Blessid Union of Souls emerged out of Cincinnati in the mid-’90s seemingly built for Top 40 radio success. The band’s debut release Home spawned the smash, “I Believe,” a “love conquers all” ballad with subtle spiritual undertones. The song hit No. 1 in the U.S., U.K. and Asia and kicked off a string of charting singles, including “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me)” and “Standing At The Edge Of The Earth.”
Outside of sporadic live appearances in the area, a couple under-the-radar releases and a 2003 album all about the Cincinnati Reds, Blessid Union’s profile has been fairly low for the past decade. (Guitarist Jeff Pence, co-founder and, with Sloan, core of the band, left the group in the mid ’00s.)
While some popular “Christian” acts have gunned for crossover success by playing down connections to the Contemporary Christian music industry, Sloan goes in the opposite direction with The Mission Field, which is being released through Sony-backed Provident-Integrity Distribution, also the distributor for Contemporary Christian artists like Jars of Clay and Third Day
The album’s bluntly praiseful lyrics shouldn’t be much of a deterrent for longtime fans of Blessid Union (well, maybe the Satanic ones). The songs on The Mission Field still possess the same ear-grabbing Pop hooks that made the band such a huge commercial success.
Blessid Union of Souls performs Friday at Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind. For tickets and venue info, head to www.hollywoodindiana.com.
More Local Notes
• Saturday at Memorial Hall (on Elm St., next to Music Hall), there will be a special benefit concert for Venice on Vine, the pizza parlor at 13th and Vine streets in Over-the-Rhine run by Power Inspires Progress to provide job training for inner city residents having difficultly finding employment. Longtime local Jazz fave (and current SCPA music teacher) Erwin Stuckey and his trio performs at 7 p.m., followed by headliner Rick DellaRatta, a philanthropic musician whose “Jazz for Peace” performances have raised funds for over 700 different charities in the past decade. The New York-based pianist has performed all over the world (including a concert at the U.N.) with the goal of bringing people together through Jazz. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the event includes dinner, a cash bar and a silent auction. To purchase tickets and read more about the cause, visit www.powerinspiresprogress.com.
• Cincy Roots Rock band Shoot Out the Lights celebrates the release of its two-years-in-the-making debut full-length Saturday at the Southgate House’s Parlour. The self-titled release — which should appeal to fans of artists from Gram Parson to Ryan Adams — was recorded with producer Mike Tekulve at Ric Hordinski’s Monastery studio, CAA Studios and at Cincinnati State’s facilities. Opening Saturday’s show are The Western and Josh Eagle and the Harvest City, who are working on their sophomore album with an eye on a summertime release. The $5 cover charge includes a copy of Shoot Out the Lights debut. (www.sotlmusic.com)
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