Collective Soul

From the Ground Up

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If Collective Soul's 2004 comeback album, Youth, was a splashy, glammy guitar rock record, its EP sequel, From the Ground Up -- arriving just six months later -- is its opposite, a gentle, laid-back set of acoustic tunes. But with the exception of "Youth," which may have been intended as the title song for the proper album, there are no new songs here: the remaining seven tunes are relaxed acoustic reinterpretations of songs from the band's catalog. The stripped-down, laid-back vibe suits the group well, making the guys sound relaxed and assured, more natural than they do on many of their glistening studio albums. While this is primarily a record for fans -- the only big hit to lure in casual listeners is "December" -- Collective Soul sound so loose and warm here, they might manage to win over some doubters, if they ever managed to hear the record. This, combined with the shiny hard rock of Youth, suggests that Collective Soul is entering its second decade as a more ambitious and interesting band than it was at the height of its popularity in the mid-'90s.

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