Release Date: January 26th 2018
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Reckless Love
- Water and Dust
- You Won’t Let Go
- Death Where Is Your Sting
- Only Takes a Moment
- Your Love is Strong
- Born Again
- Endless Alleluia
‘…when I use the phrase, “the reckless love of God”, I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. What I mean is this: He is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being. His love isn’t crafty or slick. It’s not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, it’s quite childlike, and might I even suggest, sometimes downright ridiculous. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. His love isn’t selfish or self-serving. He doesn’t wonder what He’ll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return…’ To tell you all the truth, I almost didn’t review this album. There I said it. Reckless Love by Cory Asbury initially wasn’t going to be reviewed. Not that there was anything against the song, the song is amazing, and quite possibly one of my favourite songs of the decade, but for me, as I listened to Cory’s new album (that debuted on iTunes and other digital retailers around a year ago), I felt a little underwhelmed. I stopped and then shelved that for a while, really thinking. Was it because of the big hype surrounding the title track, and how that song in particular was a big mover and shaker within and around the worship music industry, and thus because of such powerful and emotive, evoking and even provoking imagery, that the rest of the album couldn’t really stand up? Maybe, but as I dusted off Reckless Love for subsequent listens later on in 2018, I found myself stopping with the comparisons I initially had- the comparisons that led me to put down Cory’s album and declare from the outset that this new Bethel-inspired album would never see the light of day as a review on this website.
Until now- in 2019, I have taken the plunge, to review an album that has become so prolific and revolutionary in the hearts and minds and whomever has heard it over the last year. Yes, even myself, that with the subsequent listens, I’ve understood that the other 9 songs, aside from ‘Reckless Love’, ought not to be compared to the chart-topping song itself, but rather, with the album as a whole, these songs are equally as powerful and heartfelt, but because these other 9 weren’t publicised or even promoted at all, I found myself not connecting as much to them…which is ok. It is because of this realisation that I had about Cory’s new album that I found myself asserting this fact- that radio singles and songs that are constantly in the spotlight, intentionally or not, resonate more with listeners than songs that aren’t as publicised, or not even publicised at all…even if the songs that are under the radar are equally as challenging and inspiring as the song that has been focused on to death!
Let’s just say that all this comparing aside, Reckless Love, released around a year ago, is still making its impact even now. So what does this really mean? How can Cory, who has been in and around the music industry for a while, a part of Bethel Music and New Life Worship previously, create such an album, where it completely and sincerely creates a space for us to worship so freely and with abandon, giving us songs that have actually voiced what we ourselves are too awestruck to even comprehend or say? Reckless Love has and always will be a standout of 2018, and hearing this album now, I’ve come to appreciate not only the song more, but the album as a whole, and not comparing the other 9 songs to that one big song, but rather, the album as a whole and seeing the story that Cory (and to a bigger extent, the Lord Himself) has weaved through the 10 tracks, each of them reminding us of the neverending and at times, reckless, love of the Father to us lowly sinners. It is an honour and a privilege, a humble moment of knowing we are not worthy of God’s love yet He gives it anyway. And thus…onto the review of Reckless Love, quite possibly one of my favourite worship albums of 2018…alongside others like Living Hope (Phil Wickham), God of the Impossible (Lincoln Brewster), Good News (Rend Collective), Look Up Child (Lauren Daigle) and Easy Never Needed You (Sarah Reeves)!
The song ‘Reckless Love’ has been an anthem for a generation, a song that has, and always will be, one that will as much unite as it will divide. Some of laid claim that the term ‘reckless love’ shouldn’t even be used to describe God’s love, because the term ‘reckless’ goes against everything that God Himself stands for. While others, myself included, have no qualms with the word reckless, because even though I know myself that the term can be received in a negative way, how ‘reckless’ is used in a song like this can also evoke moments of thankfulness and realisation, of poignancy as well as gratitude. As Cory himself delves into the word and why he even used ‘reckless’ to describe the love of the Father, we see Cory’s heart to bring God’s love onto paper for us to reflect upon. As said much more articulately in his own words, ‘…His love leaves the ninety-nine to find the one every time. To many practical adults, that’s a foolish concept. “But what if he loses the ninety-nine in search of the one?” What if? Finding that one lost sheep is, and will always be, supremely important. His love isn’t cautious. No, it’s a love that sent His Own Son to die a gruesome death on a cross. There’s no “Plan B” with the love of God. He gives His heart so completely, so preposterously, that if refused, most would consider it irreparably broken. Yet He gives Himself away again. The recklessness of His love is seen most clearly in this – it gets Him hurt over and over. Make no mistake, our sin pains His heart. And “70 times 7” is a lot of times to have Your heart broken. Yet He opens up and allows us in every time. His love saw you when you hated Him – when all logic said, “They’ll reject me”, He said, “I don’t care if it kills me. I’m laying My heart on the line.”…’ God Himself is never described as reckless, but rather, His love, as seen by the world and through the lens of contemporary society at the moment, can be concluded and seen as reckless, everytime. Because in all honesty, who would die (and rise again) for someone who may or may not come back home? Sure it can be easy enough to die (maybe not die, but at least suffer excruciatingly) for someone you love, or for at least someone you respect and admire, and they see the same for you. But for millions of people around the world, they may never know Christ, or may never want to know Him. They may outwardly deny Christ’s divine nature, or they may not even admit they need saving. And Christ died and rose again for them as well.
That love is so baffling for the human mind to reconcile, maybe even reckless, some would call it. Thus, this song ‘Reckless Love’ is appropriately titled; as we are reminded of the lengths Christ would go (and did) for humankind to be reconciled back to Himself. Sure, there will be people that won’t accept the Lord as their Saviour when the time comes. But still the Lord loves us all unequivocally, and all the same. We are to be reminded of the love given so freely and without condition. The love to be received by us ought not to come with a list of things we ought to do or what we shouldn’t do. Because once we place conditions around the love given by the Lord, He may as well not have even come to die and rise again in the first place. Cory Asbury’s song divides but also unites as well. And the song couldn’t come at a better time than in such a divisive society where we need a revelation, that God’s love comes for all, and invites us all at the table, because each and every one of us is as valued and treasured by God Himself, just as we are. Well done Cory for such a life-giving and hopefully identity building track (for whomever hears it), as we understand that such a song like this can revolutionise and bring together the worlds of secular and Christian music, even if we don’t even know it!
Throughout the rest of the album, we see a theme threading through as Cory gives us all hope and comfort that though we can be only one human in the sea of many, God’s love covers and reaches every single soul, as we understand the value and worth we have in the eyes of the Lord. ‘Water and Dust’ is acoustical and reflective, as Cory reminds us all that though we are ‘…one part water and one part dust, yet You’re still making trophies out of us, making something out of nothing, it’s what You do, yet Your work is never finished and it’s never past due…’ It is great comfort to know that though we are indeed just flesh and bone (physically), we are of infinite value to our Heavenly Father above, that our hopes, dreams, worries and uncertainties, matter to the king of the universe. We are never forgotten in the world we are in, and the hidden treasures and talents we can bury inside ourselves, for fear of rejection by the world, can be in fact brought to the light with the realisation that God Himself has birthed these passions and hopes, these longings and pursuits, within us for us to utilise and encourage the world with. And thus this song is born- ‘Water and Dust’ is one that humbles us, knowing that though we are indeed not that special by the world’s standards, God Himself thought otherwise- to the point of showing ‘reckless love’ towards us all!
‘You Won’t Let Go’ is a song reminiscent of a similar Matt Redman song ‘You’ll Never Let Go’, a song that encourages us to believe into the fact that God never lets go of us, even in the valleys where we believe and think that He has; while ‘Endless’ provides to us the words for us to even utter and describe the vastness and the never-ending nature of His love, for not only us but all of creation. A song that is as congregational and fit-for-the-church (even more so than ‘Reckless Love’)- and should’ve taken off in churches around the world, more so than it did (in fact, I don’t think that this song ever took off in churches, ever!), ‘Endless’ segues into ‘Death Where is Your Sting’, a more completed and structured version of IHOP’s Laura Hackett Park’s song, ‘He’s Alive’.
Cory had a hand in this spontaneous song way back in 2010, and now 8 years later, delivers a song that can easily be on radio in the future. While ‘Reckless Love’ has been the only single from the album to ever reach radio, songs like ‘Endless’ and ‘Death Where Is Your Sting’ are the other radio friendly songs that can easily strike a chord with many listeners of the radio in various parts of the world, at the moment. ‘Only Takes a Moment’ emphasises an acoustic/country-style musical atmosphere as this Cory Asbury tune can easily have been sung by any other southern gospel/country musician and it still would’ve had the same effect. The song itself delivers a theme that often we as humans overlook- that God’s might and power mean that it does only take a moment for Him to fix what’s broken not only in us but in the world as well. But then there are times where God doesn’t take a moment to fix things- He takes longer. But that doesn’t stop us believing that He does take short moments to fix things, it’s just that He chooses to take longer so that we can learn from the experiences we are in. But then there are other moments where we don’t know why He doesn’t fix it…and that’s ok. It’s ok to doubt and ask difficult questions. But let us not forget that the God we serve is a God that fixes things, and we will continue to ask for these things to be fixed, with a strong belief that He can and will fix them, till we see Him face to face in heaven!
‘Garments’ is the most lively and upbeat song on the album, as Cory imparts to us everything that we can see about ourselves, contrasting that with everything that God sees. We’re reminded that what we see about our circumstances can and often is vastly different to what Jesus sees. A song full of light acoustics and an electric guitar presence that gives such a song a hint of Southern Gospel drawl, Cory invites us to declare alongside him, that God gives us ‘…garments of praise, fullness of joy, unending mercy, new every morning…’ – a chorus reminiscent of something that could’ve been conjured up during the 1990s, and so, props and kudos for originality and unique musical instrumentation! ‘Your Love is Strong’, not the powerful and poetic melody sung and recorded by rock band Switchfoot, but rather, an originally written one, allows us to contemplate and reflect upon all the things that Christ’s love is capable of, as we are called to declare alongside Cory that God’s love is indeed stronger than we can all ever hope for or realise (and standing at a length of a little below 5 minutes, this acoustically driven lullaby-ish track can seem a little moody, but it’s lack of musical joyfulness is made up for with biblically sound lyrical content. ‘Born Again’, though the best intentions, seems to fall flat. Though I’m sure it’s unintentional, the lyrical content of the melody is by far one of the most engaging and prolific songs I’ve heard on the album thus far. But musically, the song seems to drag, as we are given a piano only track that has had even me falling asleep. Though I’m sure Cory has placed his heart and soul into this song (and album in general), I myself haven’t resonated with ‘Born Again’…yet! The album then ends with ‘Endless Alleluia’; a song about the anticipation and excitement that comes along with being eagerly awaiting Christ’s second coming. A great way to end the album, we are blessed to hear Cory pour his heart out as he reminds us to ‘…let our voices rise, all creation cries, singing out an endless alleluia, from this moment on, join with Heaven’s song, singing out an endless alleluia! …’
‘…to get personal, His love saw me, a broken down kid with regret as deep as the ocean; My innocence and youth poured out like water. Yet, He saw fit to use me for His kingdom because He’s just that kind. I didn’t earn it and I sure as heck don’t deserve it, but He’s just that good. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God…’ Though the album review is around a year later, I don’t regret listening to the album and reviewing it a little later than that; not one bit. Because with Cory’s music and this album, there’s a lot of lyrical imagery and vast amounts of biblically sound lyrics and verses. If I had to have done that review even a year ago, I may not have been that focused in the album (considering all the hype for the radio single). Nevertheless, I’ve reviewed the album now- for me, Cory and his music are very much underrated, and I’ll be checking out whatever he decides to unveil to us in the future. With standout songs like ‘Death Where is Your Sting’, ‘Endless’ and the title track; this is a must have if you enjoy worship music, CCM or even both.
3 songs to listen to: Reckless Love, Endless, Death Where Is Your Sting
RIYL: Desperation Band, Brian & Jenn Johnson, Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala