By Jada Fisher, Staff Writer
I must admit I had doubts on whether or not I would like “Stix and Stones Unplugged.” One would reason is because it’s just an acoustic version of the original work “Stix and Stones,” which released last year.
Although I’ve never been an unplugged enthusiast, I really like Hillaryjane as an artist, and I didn’t want this EP to change my mind.
The project wasn’t as appealing as the original upon my first listen. I automatically did a lot of comparing to the original. But after listening to the songs again, I noticed the small details that made me appreciate the music more. I realized this EP has a new nature.
The overall sound gave the work has a broader aesthetic compared to the original. It didn’t have the allure of 80s or the sexiness a studio soundboard can give a record. It had something of greater depth. I found that if I didn’t listen closely, I would’ve missed these fine details.
“We Fight” is a track near the end of the EP that stood out to me. One of the small details I appreciate in this song is the piano solos in the opening and closing. To me, that added a magical, Disney-esque effect.
The sound progression was excellent, but it was also solemn. In October, during a live interview, Hillaryjane mentioned the meaning behind this song. The song is about two Christians struggling in their relationship and how they learn to fight for Christ instead of each other, she said.
Her vocal delivery is strong yet soft. “We Fight” is one of my favorite songs to listen to and the most beautiful song on this EP.
“Celebrity” sounded like it would be awesome to hear performed live. The opener is slow and very R&B, which transitions into a funky, up-beat jazz arrangement. The sound is polar opposite to the original track, which featured This’l with a trap beat.
Her vocal delivery on this song was the best compared to the other songs. The new rap verse was the cherry on top for me. The lyrics seemed very well thought out. “Sin is the trend, I’m all in. Chasin’ the wind for the win, when my conscience became conscious. Got me feelin’ like.” This is another favorite track of mine.
After listening to the songs again, I noticed the small details that made me appreciate the music more. I realized this EP has a new nature.
On YouTube you can find many covers of Hillsong UNITED’s “Oceans,” even Hillaryjane’s. Her version was featured on this EP. “Oceans” has been a popular worship song for the past two years but she definitely did it justice. Her background as a worship leader really showed in this song, especially in her ad-libs at the end.
Though no artists were featured on the project, it definitely sounded like Sheena Lee did the background vocals. I saw her in the mini documentary of the making of “Unplugged.”
I enjoyed the sound progression in “Chimneys,” it really gave the song a new aura compared to the original. There was guitar, drums and cymbals, which really complemented her voice. “Shotgun” had a much more upbeat tempo than the original. It gave the song a 2000s R&B-esque, neo-soul kind of sound.
Other songs on this EP include “Wild Side” and title track “Stix and Stones,” which are also pleasing to the ears.
Unplugged was well received in the Christian music and hip hop community. During its December release date, the EP charted number three on iTunes top Christian albums.
Of this body of work Hillaryjane said, “It has an undertone of confidence.” Though she sings of where her confidence comes from, we can be confident that with the success of two EPs, Hillaryjane will be around for quite some time.