Provident Label Group
Release Date: October 20th 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The Future is Bright
- Whole Heart
- I Run
- Got The Love (feat. Tauren Wells)
- Don’t Be Afraid
- Faith Hope Love Repeat
- A Little Faith
- You’ll Find Love Again
- Someone Like Me
- Only One in the World
One of the most emotive and encouraging singer-songwriters I’ve heard this side of the millennia, Brandon Heath burst onto the scene with his chart-topping radio hit ‘I’m Not Who I Was’, released in 2006 and catalogues his own journey to faith, as we’re reminded that who we were before isn’t who we are right now, since our introduction to Christ and His love. Since such a time as 2006, we as listeners have been blessed to hear Brandon deliver song after song full of vibrancy, poignancy and enthusiasm, from songs like ‘Give Me Your Eyes’, ‘Your Love’, ‘The Light in Me’ and ‘Love Never Fails’, to ‘Wait and See’, ‘No Turning Back’, ‘Behold Our God’, and ‘Love Does’, to name a few. Brandon even collaborated with worship leader Christy Nockels to give us quite possibly one of Brandon’s few worshipful songs in ‘No Not One’, what I reckon is one of the most underrated worship songs I’ve heard, by any artist, within the last ten years. In fact, dare I say that Brandon and his music, in an overall sense, are very much underrated in an industry today that celebrates the popular artists and shuns, sadly, the independent ones? Nevertheless, Brandon’s music is something that everyone ought to listen to, at least once.
Now as we enter in October 2017, it’s that time again…yes, for Brandon to release a new album…and indeed he does! With his radio single ‘Whole Heart’ being added to radio stations at the beginning of the year, and the song even earning a spot, on WOW Hits 2018; we are to see what this new album titled Faith Hope Love Repeat that released October 20th 2017, is and whether we as fans of Brandon and his music should at least listen to this album once or not. And yes, I have listened to this album from start to finish a few times, and yes, let me say that Brandon’s style is unlike anything he has done in the past…which can be both a good and bad thing. Brandon is experimenting with his music; with some songs coming off great and others not as much. Needless to say, Faith Hope Love Repeat still has the same heart, passion and message that Brandon has always had in his music, even if the musical style may not be what we are used to from him. This is an 11 track album that is a must if you are at least a little curious to what Brandon’s style is on this album (and you are an avid fan of his previous work), or if you just want to hear music akin to styles from artists like Big Daddy Weave, Josh Wilson, Sidewalk Prophets or Tauren Wells.
The first radio single from the album that released way back in March, ‘Whole Heart’ stands at 3:02, and one can be initially forgiven if you think the song is rushed, not as whole-hearted as his previous offerings of albums past. Yet the reality is far from what we can initially think about the track. As Brandon invites us into this song that speaks about how we as Christians need to love our Father with our whole hearts, and give Him everything in our lives, not just the bits we may think He wants (and keep everything else, especially things we’re too ashamed at unveiling, to ourselves), the song captures in essence what the Christian life is about- surrendering our whole selves to the One who created us and invite Him to make us and shape us into the vessels He wants to share His love to people around us…so in a nutshell, we’re to lay down all of our own desires and ambitions, allowing the Lord to reshape and realign our priorities so that what we undertake and accomplish can further His kingdom and purposes both now and into the future. Isn’t it a real and great privilege to be the carriers of God’s presence wherever we go?
“Whole Heart” is the anthem we never knew we needed, giving us a revelation if you will, that ‘…where there’s hurting, You show me what healing can do, where there’s hatred, You show me how kindness can move, where there’s fear deep inside, I won’t run, I won’t hide, I’ll give You all of me so that You can see every broken piece and open up my whole heart…’ Surrender is never easy, but with it, comes a freedom and release, that the Lord will pick up the broken pieces inside us a reshape them to form what we can only describe as something unique, magnificent, encouraging and reflecting of what our Father can accomplish. One of my favourite standout songs on the entire album, the message of the track also permeates the entire track-listing, as what we hear in ‘Whole Heart’ is a precursor to what is explored in the remainder 10 tracks!
‘Got the Love’ and the title track are two other songs that released prior to when the whole album dropped to digital outlets on Friday October 20th, and while both these songs (compared to ‘Whole Heart’) are musically different, Brandon’s heart is still constant, as we lay witness to encouragement and hope in not only the most musically unique album he has done, but in retrospect, one of the most unique albums musically anyone has created this year thus far (maybe once I listen to the new Cimorelli album Sad Girls Club releasing this coming Friday, I can change my mind!). Featuring the guest vocals of Tauren Wells (formally of Royal Tailor and now a solo artist), ‘Got the Love’ is a fun-filled song full of heart, energy, passion and 3:39 minutes of being reminded that when we have the love of God inside of us, we can’t help but to show it on the outside, for it to be expressed in how we act, talk, walk, how we live our lives in general. A song that is out of Brandon’s comfort zone musically, but works with the addition of pop-CCM maestro Tauren Wells (in fact, Tauren sings more of the song than Brandon, maybe it could’ve been an addition to Tauren’s debut album that dropped in June this year?); Brandon’s music continues to impact and encourage, with the title track ‘Faith, Hope, Love Repeat’ a comfort to many as Brandon invites us all to partake in such a simple moment of just practicing faith, hope, and love to everyone we meet, and then just press repeat. In theory it can be a simple concept, to exercise faith beyond what we can see, hoping beyond what we can ever hope for, and loving the situations that can be deemed unlovable, but in reality, things are never that easy…which is why we have such a song like this to help, as the words of the chorus begin to permeate our hearts, Brandon delivers this song to his unborn child (at the time of writing the melody with fellow singer-songwriter David Leonard), stating that ‘…I brought you into this world and I’m sorry it’s a little bit crazy, but I tell you there is so much good, though the future looks a little bit hazy…He will give us everything that we need, so have…faith, hope and love, repeat…’ As the song is a comfort to his own son, Brandon’s title track can be a comfort to us also, that God holds everything together, and all we need to do is just to love without condition, to hope when there is none, and to have faith even in the faithless situations (with God’s help and guidance of course!), and to let God accomplish the rest. With these three songs (‘Whole Heart’, the title track, ‘Got the Love’) anchoring the album both musically and thematically, this album is quite possibly one of my favourites since Brandon’s 2011 album Leaving Eden!
While the aforementioned tracks above anchor the album musically and thematically, the rest of Faith Hope Love Repeat nevertheless deliver powerful melodies of hope that can encourage and inspire different people, as Brandon continues to highlight the necessity of faith in a world that seemingly has a lack thereof. ‘The Future is Bright’, the first track on the album, sets the tone for the rest of the songs as the chorus states the very words, that our future looks and is bright when we are firmly grounded in faith in the Lord, regardless of our circumstances. Inspired by Brandon’s first trip to the Holy Land (Israel), and co-written with Dan Muckala and Jason Ingram, the upbeat track laden with electronics, hands claps and a hard-hitting message that is as universal as it is poignant in the knowledge that ‘…Jesus is coming and the future is bright…’, is a track that can hopefully become a radio single in the future (maybe after ‘Got the Love’ and ‘Don’t Be Afraid’…the more ‘radio friendly tracks on the album). ‘I Run’ takes the message straight out of Paul’s letters, Philippians 3 in fact, where we are reminded that we as Christians are all in this race to the finish line, for us to be at the gates of heaven and for God to say to us ‘well done, good and faithful servant’. We are in a race for us not to forsake our souls and our passions for the sake of what is here on earth, and a song like ‘I Run’ gives us courage and stamina to continue running a race that seemingly is much more difficult when we are right in the midst of difficulty and tragedy, yet still knowing that everything will be used by our Father for His glory. ‘I Run’, though a title that isn’t super-ingenious, is far from that, as a song like this is as earnest as it is honest, hopeful, raw and real as Brandon invites us all to take up our running boots and run to where God is calling each of us down a road personally to travel upon.
‘Don’t Be Afraid’ feels like radio single #2 (that’s if radio stations like Air1 or K-Love have an aversion to the collaboration between Brandon and Tauren Wells on ‘Got the Love’) as Brandon encourages us all not to be afraid by life’s circumstances, yet in an overall sense, this song seems too radio friendly for Brandon’s own good, it seems like I’ve heard much of the themes presented in this song before, from songs like ‘Afraid’ (Tenth Avenue North), ‘Do it Afraid’ (Elizabeth South), ‘What are You Afraid Of’ (Kerrie Roberts) and ‘Not Afraid’ (Stephanie Smith). Not to say that this new song from Brandon isn’t good, it is, it just seems like this track in particular is piggy-backing on songs by artists gone before. It’s nothing that we haven’t heard before, and sadly, that isn’t something I want to say about anything Brandon records, alas, but I am. ‘Don’t Be Afraid’, though it is a catchy song, isn’t as compelling as ‘Faith, Hope, Love Repeat’ for example! ‘A Little Faith’ sadly suffers the same fate as ‘Don’t Be Afraid’, it’s a catchy song, and may even be a radio single in the future, but on its own merit, when compared to much of Brandon’s earlier material, the lyrical moments seemingly pale in comparison. While I myself am pained by writing such a review that tears songs down like I am doing for these two, I cannot deny the fact that a song like ‘A Little Faith’, when we strip away all the electronics, isn’t as flashy or as musically unique as we once initially thought it was. The song is good thematically, yet we have heard all this before. Maybe even on songs like ‘Faith Enough’ (Carman), ‘By Faith’ (The Sonflowerz), ‘Faith is Not a Feeling’ (Josh Wilson), ‘Faith is Living’ (John Waller), ‘Give Me Faith’ (Elevation Worship) and ‘Faithful’ (Hawk Nelson) to name a few, all of these being much more musically inviting and more uniquely crafted than Brandon’s track. Sad but true. Nevertheless, we know the heart and soul Brandon has delivered in such an album as this, and even if I myself am not feeling tracks like ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ and ‘A Little Faith’, maybe someone else will!
The rest of the album nevertheless isn’t as ‘low’ as ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ and ‘A Little Faith’, with ‘Lighthouse’ encouraging us as Christians to call upon the name of the Lord and ask for Him to be our lighthouse and comfort during our despair, and while the track itself is as radio friendly as songs previously on this album, it nevertheless is catchy and musically memorable, as I myself find myself humming along to the track long after it has finished. ‘You’ll Find Love Again’, though very repetitious in the chorus, presents a theme of finding hope and love again when we are in a place of hopelessness and believing that no one can love us and that we cannot love others. It is a song that an artist like Jason Gray could’ve written and the song would’ve still had the same poignancy, so kudos to Brandon for this track. The album then ends with songs ‘Someone Like Me’ and ‘Only One in the World’, the former being a powerful cry of thanks that God reached down and healed and put back together someone like us, the dirty, the sinner, the different, the quirky; while the latter is an acoustic moment, a reminder of the Brandon Heath of yesteryear, as this album closer standing at a bit under 3 minutes reminds us all that while God created everything and everyone, He still looks at us as if we’re the only people in the world, hence the song title ‘Only One in the World’!
‘…When I first started songwriting, it was therapy, and I turned back to therapy on this record, writing songs about faith and overcoming this giant obstacle of mine that is fear. Fear really hits me the hardest around 3 to 4 a.m. I believe it’s just the voice of the enemy that I hear at night. I can really get stuck in my own head, and I believe that it limits me in many different capacities in life, including creativity. So it really takes faith to push through a lot of that. I always look at my records like a yearbook—what was going on in my life at that time? For me, faith felt like a big topic to talk about in this season of life…’ And so what has this all resulted in? Faith Hope Love, Repeat, an album of mixed results. There are some songs that are great, and others that aren’t as so. Still, Brandon’s heart is in the right space, even with this album, and while some songs don’t resonate to me as much compared to others, the album overall is a solid 4, as I see that Brandon’s musical experimentation for the most part has paid off. Fans of artists like Josh Wilson, Tauren Wells, OBB, Mat Kearney would love Brandon’s music, as well as Faith, Hope, Love Repeat, one of the most musically unique albums of the year thus far. Well done Brandon for such an album about faith, can’t wait to continually hear more of the album on my iTunes playlist in months to come!
3 songs to listen to: Got the Love, Faith, Hope, Love Repeat, You’ll Find Love Again
RIYL: Josh Wilson, Tauren Wells, OBB, Mat Kearney