Provident Label Group
Release Date: September 14th 2018
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Talk About It
- All The Wrong Things (feat. Koryn Hawthorne)
- My Life
- Top Of The World
In my opinion, the artist to have come out of nowhere- quite literally- over the past year or so, to deliver one of the most impacting and musically different songs I’ve heard in a long time, is Branan Murphy and his song “All The Wrong Things” from last year, with Koryn Hawthorne as a guest vocalist. And so a year later, we now have been blessed to hear Branan’s debut self titled EP. 6 songs long, Branan delivers to us a brand of Christian pop not heard before in recent memory, with the sleek production almost rivalling some of his mainstream contemporaries such as Justin Timberlake or One Direction (when they were still a band!). With “All The Wrong Things” anchoring the EP, along with personal highlights “My Life” and “Talk About It”, Branan’s music is a must-listen if you enjoy similar artists like Lecrae, Colton Dixon and Royal Tailor, as the EP continues to probe and prod, breaking down the barriers placed there that divide ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ music, as I am sure the project will impact lovers of both CCM (and all facets of that) as well as mainstream too! Signed to Essential Records, home to artists like Tenth Avenue North, Tauren Wells, Zach Williams, Steven Curtis Chapman, Casting Crowns, Brandon Heath and Building 429 to mention a few; Branan’s new EP will hopefully be one of many in the years to come!
Opening the EP with the confronting yet equally comforting “Enough”, we are met with question after question in this EDM melody, a melody that could be sung about God or about another thing we desire the most- our family or friends or spouse. As Branan poses the question of when did God (or whatever else) stopped being enough for us, and when did we start enjoying the presence of material possessions and other transient things more; we are encouraged to take a look inside the mirror and see if we are the person we want to be. If we’re not and we need to go back to who we once were, we need to figure out how to get there. And that’s no easy task, but “Enough” and the questions it poses is I reckon the first step for all of us on the journey of self-discovery and figuring out if how we are as people right now is where we want to be.
“Talk About It” is next, and is probably one of the most confronting songs I’ve heard this year. From the top of the song, Branan doesn’t mince his words, crying out ‘…we can’t move with all the elephants in the room, we don’t talk about it, we don’t talk about it, bite my tongue, it’s like we’re suffocating love, we don’t talk about it, we don’t talk about it, truth be told, there’s so much hope that needs to be heard, but no one says a word…’, relaying to us that even amongst closest friends and believers in Christ, certain topics are off-limits, or at least limited to ‘surface-conversations’. Politics, sex, war, depression, feelings of abandonment, struggles, addictions to drugs, drinking, pornography, our subconscious racism to certain people; all of these topics are very real, and Branan has now created an anthem that says ‘ok, you can talk about these things with others, and talk about them freely! Why is all of this taboo, when ‘…the price was paid for you and me to talk about it…’?’ This song is sure to provide us with plenty of healthy discussion- as there is not even an answer present in the song as to why we don’t talk about these things; and for that I’m grateful for Branan’s song as it gets us out of our comfort zone. It’s not a track we should take lightly, so if you’re not a deep thinker as of yet, then maybe listening to this song at a later date would be better for you.
If you thought Branan’s deep pop was limited to only the first two tracks, you’d be wrong. It’s throughout the whole album. “All The Wrong Things” is a pop/rap/EDM melody with Koryn Hawthorne on guest vocals and is quite confronting, with Branan admitting that sometimes he does the things he doesn’t want to do, and doesn’t do the things he does want to. Because of sin in this world it’s easy for temptations to trip us up, and that’s exactly what “All The Wrong Things” is about- Branan relaying to us- without any clear answers- that he’s struggling. Only in the rap it is shown Branan surrendering his entire being over to God, yet the question is still posed to all of us. How would we live our life moving forward, if we know that we are doing the wrong things? Food for thought to ponder over; while the subdued, laidback electronic and keys led ballad “Maybe” is the most natural step in the progression of Branan’s journey of self-discovery, as he admits that while Jesus is relentlessly chasing and pursuing him, he is conflicted, and asks about himself ‘…maybe I’m not far, I just don’t wanna hear the truth, and maybe all my scars are just a map that leads to You. maybe I… maybe I’m crazy, or maybe I’m afraid of all the things I might become, and maybe I will finally have a place that I can run, maybe I, yeah… maybe it’s time… to give in…’.
For a more pop and CCM sound and a ‘happy-go-lucky’ atmosphere, after all the introspective melodies detailing Branan’s discovery of running away from God and realising that He is the One worth following and pursing, we are met with the testimony like track “My Life”, a personal story about Branan’s dedication to Christ, and assertion that ‘…I’m not who I was before, look in my eyes, I’m not hiding anymore, yeah, we all fall short of perfect and I’m the living proof, so if you think God’s love could never find you, take a look at my life…’. It’s the culmination of all the questioning and all of the wrestling, and the peace that comes with realising that the God of all the universe wants to intimately know us, and laid down His life so that each of us can fully get to know Him and know of His love for each of us. It’s a mind-boggling concept, and Branan manages to relay to us that the change that has occurred in him may not be believed my non-believers yet, but if everyone looks at his life, there’s no denying that a change has happened. Branan attributes that change to Jesus and it’s up to each one of us that believe that claim or not. The EP ends with the celebratory party track “Top Of The World” featuring Canon- a feeling that Branan has because of Jesus in his life, and objectively, it’s a song that Branan should be proud of, as he and Canon trade raps brilliantly, reminding us all of the feeling of being alive like we can conquer anything with Jesus on our side. Subjectively this song is something that it’s in my preferred listening genre, but it’s hard not to dance here and move your feet- “Top Of The World” is so catchy and makes me want to check out more inspirational rap music more often!
Branan Murphy’s music is different. Unique. A fusion between pop and rap. Something that you would never expect. It’s like mixing oil and water, but in this case, it works. With Branan rapping quite well in a few of the songs (particularly in “All The Wrong Things” and “Top Of The World”; Branan fuses together a number of genres to create a very unique project that we all need to stop and check out. There’s literally nothing much more that I can say about this EP- it’s a perfect score from me- so what don’t you all hop onto Spotify or iTunes or wherever you all listen to music these days, and blast out Branan’s debut EP loud for all to hear. I guarantee you, it’ll be the surprise EP of the year, and you’ll definitely love it as much as I do! These songs are some of the strongest ever I’ve heard from any debut artist. That’s how powerful and impacting I reckon Branan Murphy’s debut EP is!
3 songs to listen to: Talk About It, All The Wrong Things, My Life
RIYL: Lecrae, Plus One, Colton Dixon, Andy Mineo, Anthem Lights, Royal Tailor