Dream Label Group
Release Date: May 26th 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Into the Light
- Dance Up (feat. Spencer Kane)
- Give Me More
- I’m Not Ashamed
- More Than Gold
Signed to DREAM Records, home of artists like Soulfire Revolution, New Hope Oahu, Satellites and Sirens, Cameron James, Joel Vaughn, Matthew Parker and Warr Acres to name a few, teen CCM/pop new-ish artist Abigail Duhon (who has previously had a stint in acting before, with roles in both God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2) has released her first album on the label, and while only 17, her maturity and heart behind not only the standout song on the EP “I’m Not Ashamed” (one of my favourite songs I’ve heard in all of 2016) but the whole EP is something unique. With a similar music and vocal to mainstream pop artists like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, and reminding me so much of a younger version of Rebecca St. James (remember way back in the 1990s when her career started…Abigail Duhon could have a career like that- she’s mature enough to see such a career blossom from these songs!); we are to see what happens from this new EP releasing in a few days’ time. Through this new EP release, we are shown Abigail’s heart, for singing positive music in a music industry that sadly doesn’t deliver the right music to the ears of teen boys and girls around the world. This is one of the many reasons why I reckon her self-titled debut DREAM Records EP will be instrumental and pivotal in months and years to come in the lives of many teenagers, and fans of positive music with a message of hope and comfort. Amassing to 6 songs (inclusive of the chart-topping ‘I’m Not Ashamed’ and the previously released songs “More Than Gold”, “Give Me More” and “Dance Up” from her 2015 indie EP More Than Gold- which is actually not anywhere on the internet whatsoever!); Abigail’s introduction to Christian music is sure to be one that’ll continue for years to come. And let me be the first to say it- maybe she could be the next Rachael Lampa, Rebecca St. James or Stacie Orrico?
Teaming up with iShine artist Spencer Kane, “Dance Up”, while not necessarily a song that promotes anything about Christianity, is nevertheless a song that could still be heard without your eyes being confronted with all the profanity that is found in many other dance-club songs. As we hear Abigail alongside Spencer sing about having a good time, while this song on the surface can seem a little meaningless, it is nevertheless true. It is when we have Christ inside us, we realise that indeed we can’t stop dancing, and as this song is a clever reminder to embrace the grace of God so that we can dance and enjoy life without inhibition; “Dance Up” is a song that could easily be played in various clubs and bars around the world. Hopefully more songs that are clean that could be played in the mainstream will follow suit, and while “Dance Up” wasn’t necessarily my favourite song on the EP, it does show us the extent of Abigail’s musical repertoire.
“More Than Gold” and “Give Me More” were also songs that Abigail previously released (alongside “Dance Up”) that were from her More Than Gold 2015 EP, and even though we listeners have heard these songs before on her EP a few years ago (mind you, Abigail’s 2015 EP isn’t on the internet anymore, so I guess people may have forgotten how the songs from More Than Gold may have went), all these three songs nevertheless show us the emotion and vulnerability that Abigail carries, even as a young 17 year old- yet on the flipside, she is quite possibly one of the most mature teen CCM artists I’ve heard since Jamie Grace all those years ago. With “Give Me More”, Abigail invites us into a dance electronic atmosphere as she longs for more than what this world has to offer, in both a physical and spiritual sense. The repetitious lines of the chorus ‘…give me more…’ is a testament, that we all need more than what this life temporarily has to offer- which is something only Christ can give. “More Than Gold”, released as the official song promoting new movie #CAGEDNOMORE (about a philanthropist and his twin brother who is a human trafficking smuggler, and their journey amongst the backdrop of lost children and a struggle to set free slaves- where Abigail has joined a cast of others like Anthem Lights frontman Alan Powell, singer songwriters Natalie Grant and Anthony Evans, and actor Kevin Sorbo to present a sobering film about how slavery can be right here in Western society as it can be in Asia or Africa), is a song about being worth more than the most precious gold there ever could be. We as a humanity, let alone as children of God, ought not to be sold, because we cannot be bought with a price. Our value is from Christ, and what this song, and maybe this movie, will do is to shine a light on the value we have and the value that is given to us from our Father.
“Into the Light” and “Rebound” are the newly recorded songs for this EP, and staying true to the dance-pop vibe that Abigail is relatively known for in her music, the first track on the EP features synth keyboards and a message about following the Lord Jesus ‘into the light’- into areas that we ourselves may not necessarily dare to venture into, if not for His prompting and convicting of our hearts, that this area is where He wants us to be, for His kingdom and our spiritual growth as followers of Christ. It is when we realise and understand how much we mean to God, that He was even willing to go to the cross for one of us, we can truly follow Him without hesitation, knowing that whatever He has in store for us is something so much more than what we can ever understand or conjure up. “Rebound”, the EP’s first radio single under DREAM Records, stands at only 3:00, and though quite short, the message behind it is ever so poignant and impacting. A song that speaks about rebounding after trials and adversities, we are reminded that in Christ, we can move from any situation into a place full of peace, hope, encouragement and joy, knowing full well that whatever circumstance we are in, whether it is by the Lord or just through life itself, it is in these uncertain moments that God often speaks the loudest (or rather, He still speaks the same and we hear Him more during the pain and hurt). “Rebound” is a reminder for us to consciously choose to rebound in such circumstances, to not wallow in self-pity but rather encourage each other that ‘…I am resilient, and there is no fear in me, when I fall down, I get up, no I’m not afraid to hit the ground, cause the sky is where I will rebound…’
Yet if there is just one song to listen from the EP, then it’s “I’m Not Ashamed”- a song that released late last year, and became the theme song (along Jeremy Camp’s song of the same name) that released in promotion of I’m Not Ashamed, a movie inspired by the life and death of Rachel Joy Scott (during the time of the Columbine massacre of 1999). With the movie about the true story of how a young woman literally died for her faith in Christ in a public-school setting, we are met with the companion of sorts, a song that shows us everything the movie is trying to portray. Yes, I know this song, movie and throwback to the time when this event rocked both the sacred and secular parts of society, is sure to create and dial up more feelings about schools, faith, sharing of it with people in public and the rest of it; nevertheless, Abigail’s song is what I reckon is needed for us to have the conversation of faith again.
Having the topic and discussion about faith isn’t necessarily an easy one. It never is. But on a day in 1999 at Columbine High School, the world changed as we all knew it. I don’t need to reiterate what happened that day. Everyone knows. And even if you don’t, I’m sure Google can be your friend when you find out information about that fateful day. What I will say is this- “I’m Not Ashamed”, the song, is a testament of faith, and while it is the theme song of the movie of the same name releasing in October 2016; Abigail has given us a timely reminder- if we’re faced with the same decision that Rachel made way back, would we declare and stand boldly, that we aren’t ashamed of the gospel of Christ? Because that’s what it is when it comes down to it- are we willing to state to the world publicly what we have declared in our hearts privately?
An anthem for every Christian, it is the words of the chorus of the song that strike me the most- ‘…I am not ashamed, because You’ve given me life, I am not ashamed, because You’ve opened up my eyes, that whatever stands before me, I know You will hold me, I am not ashamed, no, I am not ashamed…’ Are we willing to be the salt and light of the world, even if it means we end up like Rachel on that fateful day? I know this is a tough question to answer…but then again, it isn’t. Because if we’re certain of our faith, then speaking up about it shouldn’t come to anyone as something that we need to think about. Because of what we know is true, are we willing to stand up, knowing full well of every consequence if we do? “I’m Not Ashamed” is definitely a standout on the EP from Abigail- it challenges you, and makes you really think- am I comfortable in my own brand of Christianity? Is God calling me out from where I hide behind? Is He challenging me to live out each day boldly and intentionally?
While not the most necessarily refined or even CCM-esque artist currently being rotated on the radio at the moment, what Abigail has is potential, heart and emotion, something I personally, as a reviewer and a casual listener of music, haven’t really heard since new artists like Love and the Outcome, I AM THEY, Zach Williams and Lauren Daigle. With a plethora of musical genres explored in this EP, from dance to subdued acoustic, Abigail is an artist sure to be influential amongst the younger generation in months and even years to come. And if the song “I’m Not Ashamed” is any indication of what Abigail’s future within the CCM industry looks like, then it is very, very bright. This EP is a timely reminder for all of us, to be called into action, knowing full well that once we declare the words ‘I’m not ashamed’, our lives will change forever. Well done Abigail for this EP, this is definitely going on my iTunes playlist for the foreseeable future!
3 songs to listen to: I’m Not Ashamed, Into the Light, More Than Gold
RIYL: Rebecca St. James, Jamie Grace, Rachael Lampa, Spencer Kane, Alexis Slifer