Eleven Productions LLC
Release Date: October 22nd 2018
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Here’s to Us
- A Thousand Years/I Won’t Give Up/Thinking Out Loud
- Can’t Help Falling in Love
- The One (feat. Christina Cimorelli)
- Stay Together (feat. Christina Cimorelli)
- Die a Happy Man
Cimorelli are fast becoming one of my favourites bands…ever. Yes, I do mean ever. In fact, maybe even within the top 10 favourite bands that I have- yes, even up there with Delirious?, Switchfoot, MercyMe, Newsboys, Casting Crowns, Third Day, Building 429, Tenth Avenue North and for KING AND COUNTRY. And though I’ve only started to listen to Cimorelli and their music (alongside all their videos on youtube) a little over a year or so ago (I think it was mid-year 2017 where I started binge-listening to their music), these 6 young women of God have inspired me so much in how they themselves live out an unashamed walk in Christ, and in turn have given myself courage to fully walk out my own faith in the last year or so. These 6 sisters from California (who have since moved to Nashville Tennessee, became independent artists after having a season with Universal Republic, and are now creating intentional uplifting and inspirational music on their own) have had profound impacts on many, many fans around the world (myself included), and ever since their inception into the world of social media a little over ten years ago, we have been blessed to see just how impacting these girls are in influencing the younger generation in the realms of social media, either on twitter, facebook, Instagram or youtube. We have been blessed to hear from Christina, Katherine, Lisa, Amy, Lauren and Dani Cimorelli, as we see in fact, one of today’s most influential bands (I reckon), this turn of the millennia. If you haven’t heard of Cimorelli, well, then…google is your friend, I guess.
Cimorelli are some of the most honest, emotive, raw, hopeful, and encouraging artists that have influenced both the mainstream and Christian circles, delivering a myriad of pop and inspirational covers, alongside 6 EPs (Cimorelli, CimFam EP, Believe It, Made in America, Renegade, I Love You Or Whatever) and 3 albums (Up at Night, Alive, Sad Girls Club) full of original material. These six sisters (all of which have a further 5 brothers; and are in a family of 11!) are as needed in today’s society, as role models to the young generation, as they are relevant and heartfelt, and much of their music, be it covers or original material, oozes such passion and fervour. With the band releasing a variety of cover material this year, alongside originally written songs ‘Thirst For Life’ and ‘Single on Valentine’s Day’, not to mention a few worship covers in ‘I Can Only Imagine/What a Beautiful Name’, ‘Oceans’ and ‘Reckless Love’, we are in awe of how these sisters can impact both the genres of mainstream music and CCM, at once. Just this last August, the band unveiled to us a brand new EP titled I Love You, Or Whatever, a collection of a more happier, fun, poppy sound compared to their sombre and more reflective Sad Girls Club last year. Consisting of 4 songs and 3 spoken words, something different and far beyond anything they’ve ever created in the past, the general feel of the EP is much more upbeat and positive, and perfect to hear on long car trips, to put in the background during a gathering or a party. Or just personal, private hearing. Whatever the case, this EP is much more accessible, and I’m sure a myriad of people will enjoy a project like this.
And then just today, we have been blessed to see yet another Cimorelli project, this time an EP titled Here’s to Us: Wedding Songs, a collection of both originally written and cover material, in total 7 songs, all of whom can be and have been, I’m sure, sung or played at a wedding at any point in anyone’s life. This new EP was actually inspired by the eldest member of the band, Christina Cimorelli, being engaged last year and then married this year (I think it was in the month of October), and thus, this collection of songs may have been what was sung at the wedding, or songs that were in circulation as background music on the day. Or the songs could’ve just been recorded as inspiration from the wedding, and thus, a soundtrack to anyone who has heard it (aka, myself) in whatever future wedding settings that can happen in the future. Nevertheless, Cimorelli have once again proved to us their versatile musical style. Much different from the pop-country Up at Night, the worshipful moments of Alive, the indie-pop mellow/reflective nature of Sad Girls Club, and the pop-summery goodness of I Love You, Or Whatever, this new EP consists of entirely love songs. Yes, you heard me, love songs. No not your love songs to God, the creator of the universe. But rather, love songs to another human being. While I may not be that versed in the love aspect of my life (I am still very much single at this point in my life), I can nevertheless still appreciate songs that are present on Here’s To Us– which consists of 4 covers (‘Perfect’ [Ed Sheeran], ‘Die a Happy Man’ [Thomas Rhett], ‘Wedding Medley’ [Christina Perri/Ed Sheeran/Jason Mraz], ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ [Elvis Presley]) and three original melodies (Here’s to Us, The One, Stay Together).
Released as a music video and the first track unveiled from the EP, a few weeks ago; ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ is probably by far one of Elvis Presley’s most famous songs about love. So much so that another famous artist covered the song (yes, I am talking about you, Michael Buble), and this is very version we may hear on the radio right now. And so, for us to see Cimorelli cover a song that I reckon is as timeless as it is timely and relevant to not only this time and society we are in, but in all time periods; is something amazing and truly wonderful. And for them to cover ‘the king’ as they call Elvis, we know that any cover that is slightly different compared to that of the original was probably going to get scrutinised. Nevertheless, the actual recording came out very good, with all 6 sisters harmonising and singing their parts to a song that’s message is universal- that we can’t help but fall in love with the person that we know is right for us, when they come along. As cliché as it may sound, falling in love is much more of an art rather than a science- we may never know why we are attracted to certain people and not others, and why we fall in love in this time rather than another. Nevertheless, Cimorelli’s version of a classic song, is a certain standout amongst many songs that are familiar on Here’s to Us, and a reminder to us all that ‘…like a river flows surely to the sea, darling so it goes, some things are meant to be, take my hand, take my whole life too for I can’t help falling in love with you…’
Throughout the rest of the EP, Cimorelli have given to us various songs, be it covers or originals, that show us the multifaceted layers of love and what it means to express such love for another person, in song. Arguably one of this decade’s most popular songs ever (that sadly, didn’t receive any Grammy Award nomination, despite being heavily played on radio), Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’ was originally recorded as a cover video in 2017, and was on Cimorelli’s Best of 2017 compilation. But for this track to feature here again on this EP is a special treat. The song itself is a love song to another, championing them and reminding them how beautiful they are, that ‘…baby, I’m dancing in the dark with you between my arms, barefoot on the grass listening to our favorite song, when I saw you standing there looking so beautiful, I don’t deserve this, darling you look perfect tonight…’ Dare I say that this song is in fact better than the original version? Maybe I should just say that about any or all covers Cimorelli unveil, but for me, there’s something special about this song ‘Perfect’ that really resonates with me. Maybe it’s because the song itself was so popular that it was covered by CCM artist Philippa Hanna and turned into a gospel anthem, maybe it’s because the song itself is just, well, good. Regardless of the reason, ‘Perfect’ is a great song, and a moment of reflection, as we see a song that stands tall both musically and lyrically on Here’s To Us.
Originally recorded by popular country artist Thomas Rhett, ‘Die A Happy Man’ seems like a morbid title, but the subject matter is anything but. The song itself features light acoustics, and a ballad tone as we are met with a country song that acknowledges that even if we don’t have any opportunities to do the grandiose things we want to do in life, if we have the person we love by our side, be it a spouse, family members or friends, we will be happier than if we did do those things. As Cimorelli reimagine this cover as a stripped-down acoustic number, we are reminded that though I myself may not have heard the original prior to this, the song still has poignancy and heart, and it is in this case that songs can be bigger than the artist who originally has sung them. Cimorelli also cover ‘Thinking Out Loud’ (Ed Sheeran), ‘A Thousand Years’ (Christina Perri) and ‘I Won’t Give Up’ (Jason Mraz) in a mashup, and while each individual song originally has their own pace and tempo, Cimorelli actually somehow combine the songs to deliver an almost flawless medley (the only issue is that the mashup was too short, and what they sung of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ seemed a little rushed), in fact, one of my favourite Cimorelli mashups since the Justin Timberlake Medley earlier on this year.
‘Here’s to Us’, ‘The One’ and ‘Stay Together’ are the remaining songs on this EP, and all of them are originally written, the former being a song sung by all 6 sisters, while the latter two being solo songs sung by Christina only. Starting off with a rousing kick drum beat and a chorus of sisters singing in harmony together, the song is a rousing anthem and declaration of doing life together as husband and wife, and while it’s not necessarily a ‘let’s do everything together with Jesus at the Centre type-of-song’, ‘Here’s to Us’ is nevertheless a melody that God will hopefully use to challenge newlyweds, and remind them to always consider the other when traveling through life as a married couple. Emotive and heartfelt, powerful and poetically ingenious, the title track sets the tone for the EP both lyrically and musically. The remaining originally written songs are sung by Christina only- ‘The One’ is a soulful prayer of love and thanks, that can be taken either one of two ways. At face value, and considering the theme of the EP, ‘The One’ is a love song Christina is singing to her husband Nick, saying that ‘…I’ve found the one whom my soul longs, I held him and would not let him go…’ But looking deeper, and considering much of the lyrics of the song is taken straight from the Bible, specifically Song of Solomon, we can also see this song as a love song to God, declaring love for Him and never wanting to leave Him in our devotion to our Father. ‘Stay Together’ is actually a great motivational song for the world today, that in a time where there are divorces and family breakdowns left, right and centre; we are reminded in a such a song like this, that staying together as a unit through difficult situations is something much more rewarding and fulfilling than the breaking-up we often see portrayed by society right now. Well done Christina and the rest of Cimorelli for creating a song that will hopefully become a beacon of hope and a reminder that sticking together and being faithful to each other even if feelings aren’t, is something to constantly aspire to and work towards.
‘…Cimorelli and their commitment to delivering quality music, be it covers or originals, has taught me that there is a wide variety of music out there at my grasp, and ‘mainstream’ music isn’t that ‘bad’ or ‘inferior’ to Christian music. In fact, God can indeed speak through anything, even a song that wasn’t necessarily written with Jesus at the forefront. Mainstream music can encourage, and Cimorelli has shown us, myself especially, that mainstream songs, can in fact help us on our journey of life, and tell us more about ourselves and God in the whole process of this crazy period from birth to death, called an exciting adventure the Lord is calling us all out to participate in. My musical tastes have been broadened because of Cimorelli, and for that I am thankful and grateful. Music is the universal language of the soul, and as these 6 sisters continue to deliver harmonies and melodies as emotive and poignant as they have been for years, then the world will be a better place because of it…’ This quote verbatim is what I wrote as the ending paragraph for I Love You or Whatever, and while I was searching for some sophisticated way to end this EP review, I found that I couldn’t, because this above quote applies not only to the review I wrote a few months ago, but also to this one too…in fact, to any Cimorelli album, and so, I quoted it. But what I will say is this- their new EP Here’s To Us, featuring both originally written songs and covers, while it doesn’t say that much explicitly about God, if at all, what I am reminded of when hearing these songs is that the love humans have for each other in a romantic sense, is only a glimpse into what God feels for His children, what He feels for the creation and the love He has for each of us.
And so yes, this new EP has shed much light upon the understanding of how God’s love for each of us is unwavering and unending. As we’re made in God’s image, how we love each other is in fact how God loves us, and then some. Here’s To Us: Wedding Songs is not just for people who enjoy and love love songs, but rather, those who love music, full stop. Cimorelli are underrated, and hopefully with this EP release, alongside their most recent EP I Love You Or Whatever, and their increased youtube presence throughout the last year or so; we can see the journey of how a little youtube cover band can be transformed into a band that is influencing many young teenagers and young adults around the world today. Well done Christina, Katherine, Lisa, Amy, Lauren and Dani for such a heart-warming yet equally confronting set of love songs, congratulations Christina on marriage, and here’s to the EP impacting many, many lives in the upcoming weeks and months ahead!
3 songs to listen to: Here’s To Us, A Thousand Years/I Won’t Give Up/Thinking Out Loud, Die A Happy Man
RIYL: Megan Nicole, 1GN, Rachel Platten, Plumb, Britt Nicole, BarlowGirl