Provident Label Group
Release Date: February 10th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- One Way to Heaven
- Only Just Met You
- No Turning Back (feat. All Sons and Daughters)
- When I Was Young
- All I Need
- Girl Of My Dreams
- When You Look At Me
- Everything Must Go
- Behold Our God
- Sing Brave
‘…I hope that [people]…remember that moment when Jesus came into their life. And that they remember that they’re on a journey and see how faithful God has been to them since that day. I hope people can re-live that and the same thing happens to them. I hope their joy is restored and that they remember their salvation and just see how present God is in our lives. When He says we are a new creation, He means it. The old is gone. The new has come and there’s no turning back…’ Brandon Heath, one of today’s most underrated, poetic, poignant, powerful and prolific singer/songwriters, is back with a new studio album, No Turning Back, releasing February 3rd 2015, and while it’s been more than 2 years since his last album Blue Mountain, it sure has been worth the wait for this Nashville native.
One of his best albums to date (for me personally, no album can top Leaving Eden), Brandon’s lyrically provoking and emotive melodies on No Turning Back are enough for anyone to hear and be moved and changed, whether they are a fan of CCM/pop like myself, or a fan of harder rock. With a theme of us not turning back but running the race and pressing towards the future as we look for growth in every aspect of our life, Brandon’s songs facilitate discussion around the theme of us moving in a direction that’ll hopefully give us peace and comfort as we journey this life with Jesus, knowing that ‘…though I may wander, I am not lost, so many distractions, but I, I look to the cross…’ (“No Turning Back”).
Written and sung with All Sons and Daughters, first single “No Turning Back” stands at a short 3 minutes, but it is perhaps some of the most honest and powerful 3 minutes I have heard in 2015 so far. Basing the song off the hymn “I Have Decided”, Brandon and the worship-folk band invite us to declare the same words of how we are not ‘…turning back, I’m moving on, not looking back…’, amongst all the light country-style electric guitars and Brandon’s distinct voice. While Brandon himself was not familiar with the hymn in which this first single was based upon, what still transpired from the release of this track is one of honest fervour, and how Brandon’s songwriting continues to grow, making “No Turning Back” the first of many tracks that add up to some of the most real, exquisite, interesting and enjoyable songs he has ever written to date.
Starting off the album with “Only Way to Heaven”, a light electronic-acoustic melody about how there’s only one way to heaven, this pop-rock over a hip hop beat gives us hope that artists can bridge the radio friendly/alternative/rap divide that has seemingly been fast growing in both the mainstream and CCM industry alike. Brandon rather breaks the mould to start an album that breaks new ground lyrically and musically. Further bringing electronic vocal distortion into the frame in “Only Just Met You”, Brandon describes personally the moment when he met Christ and how ‘…I can’t explain it but my heart is beating faster, so this is how heaven feels…and I’ve only just met You…’ and further places this album in powerful and poignant stead as the genres of CCM and electronic collide to form some of the most unique melodies 2015 has given us so far. The piano hauntingly yet eerily makes “SOS” a memorable song about calling out the God in our time of need and while the song may be one of the most musically lacking song on the album; what this song has is heart, as we realise that everyone of us needs what Brandon is describing- someone to ‘…save me, SOS, I’m lost at sea…’
At just below 3 minutes, this hand-clapping feet-stomping “When I Was Young” reminds us all of our youth and nostalgia, as Brandon describes moments of his past, and reminds us all that as we grow older, we become wise and learn from all the situations and experiences we live through. Sounding like a radio single, “All I Need” is another standout alongside “No Turning Back” as we see Brandon bring out a worshipful style not really seen or heard since the 2011 single “Your Love”. Showing us scenarios where personas in both the first and second verse cry out to God and declare that ‘…all I need is You, Lord, I’ve got everything…’; it is when we realise that everything we do have is His already that we can declare alongside Brandon with freedom and comfort. “When You Look at Me”, again sounding radio-friendly (another potential single perhaps?), further highlight’s God’s love for us as Brandon gives us comfort in the words of how ‘…there’s no shame, I’m not the same when you look at me, I’m just now finding out what it really means…’, that Christ looks at us without any condemnation and judgement. With pulsating drums and a pop-rock atmosphere, “When You Look at Me” is perhaps one of the most underrated songs Brandon has ever written and recorded since “No Good to Be Alone”.
From writing a song about his wife and the personal moments attached to their meeting and courtship (“Girl of My Dreams”) to the folksy song that compares garage sales to us getting rid of everything in our lives that doesn’t pertain to Jesus (“Everything Must Go”), it is the two worship melodies, the powerful “Behold Our God” and the contemplative “Sing Brave”, that set the end of the album in motion as one of Brandon’s best. While both these songs may not necessarily the most buoyant and bouncy out of the 11 tracks, what they are is memorable, and fit for any iTunes worship playlist. It is in the moments where all we realise is to praise Him for what He has done that we can truly worship Him with abandon, which is what these 2 album enders are showcasing to listeners; as we sing alongside Brandon that we ‘…behold our King, fall down in wonder and behold our King, there is no other, He is everything…’ (“Behold Our God”).
‘…I was thinking about the joy of my salvation and how I could really write a record about that. That’s where I started shifting all of my creative energy, writing songs about who I was then and what made me ultimately decide to let Jesus into my life. No Turning Back is retelling the story. I wanted to capture the moment that I met the Lord – the rush of feeling and believing that my life was going to be different…’ No Turning Back, arguably one of Brandon’s best albums to date (for me, nothing can trump Leaving Eden), is also one of this year’s best CCM albums, alongside albums from I Am They and Jeremy Camp. Reminding us all to focus our eyes clearly on Jesus, this CCM/pop/electronic album is something different from Brandon, which is one of the reasons why the album stands out so much, in terms of Brandon’s career as well as 2015 in general. Fans of artists like Josh Wilson, Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin or All Sons and Daughters would love Brandon’s music, as well as No Turning Back, one of February’s best so far. Well done Brandon for such a thought-provoking and enjoyable album!
3 songs to listen to: No Turning Back, Behold Our God, When You Look at Me
RIYL: Josh Wilson, All Sons and Daughters, Chris Tomlin, Steven Curtis Chapman