Release Date: February 3rd 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Living Word
- I Will Follow (You are With Me)
- He Knows
- Finally Home
- Christ in Me
- ‘Til the End
- Can’t Be Moved
- Only In You
- Same Power
- We are the Dreamers
- Here I Am
- Spirit Now (Deluxe Edition)
- Be Still (Deluxe Edition)
- Perfect Love (Deluxe)
- He Knows (Acoustic) (Deluxe Edition)
- Here I Am (Acoustic) (Deluxe Edition)
It has been said that whenever an artist moves from their original genre to another midway throughout their career, that either they feel called to change their genre and in all intended purposes, thrive in their new genre, or they have lost their initial purpose as a band (inclusive of genre) and are just grasping at different musical styles because they are unsure of which genre to latch onto, choose and run with. With many people thinking the second possibility when it comes to artists like Sanctus Real, Kutless, Hawk Nelson and even Group 1 Crew, from their respective genres of rock, hard rock, pop-punk and hip hop to CCM; I like to assume the 1st possibility whenever an artist switches genres for whatever reason. While it may take a while being used to an artist’s different style, it is still at testament to whomever listens of the versatility of the artist in question. Moving onto Jeremy Camp, whom this review is about, starting his musical quest in hard rock, then moving to rock, worship and pop, you can be easily forgiven to think that Jeremy’s latest album I Will Follow will be a further departure from the rock he embraced in Stay.
But this assumption is far from the truth, when I listened to the pre-release a few times throughout the week. While Jeremy’s songwriting has matured and is more widely accepted within the CCM industry, his music on his latest album is a return to his roots of hard rock as he moulds together rock, worship and pop to present to us one of my favourite albums of the year. From lead single “He Knows”, to powerful rocker “I Will Follow” to folksy-blues melody “Finally Home”, this album is the most diverse Jeremy has done, and will hopefully please a wide array of listeners whose preference is of a variety of musical styles. As said my Jeremy himself in his bio, it is when we realise that God knows our deepest fears and insecurities that we can rest assured that He will carry us through, a theme that threads not only through the first single but throughout the album as a whole. A great album if you love artists like Kutless, Crowder or Sanctus Real, Jeremy’s new album produced and helmed by Seth Mosley and Jason Ingram is one to not miss, especially if you want something new and unique from Jeremy in 2015!
“Living Word”, “Christ in Me”, “I Will Follow” and first radio single “He Knows” are all songs that have been promoted prior to the album releasing on February 3rd, and from a listen of each of these songs, I can safely say that this new album of Jeremy’s is arguably one of his best yet. With simple yet effective lyrics, “He Knows” ministers to the hurting and broken as we hear the poignant truth of how ‘…He knows, He knows, every burden every pain, He has walked our suffering…let your burden come undone, lift your eyes up to the One who knows…’, and while at times it may seem like a cliché song full of cliché themes that probably would’ve been better sung and choreographed together by someone like Rend Collective or All Sons and Daughters (which probably is the case as well); what Jeremy has nevertheless given is a song that tells us the Christ knows our hurts even before we experience them- if this song can influence one person’s life and show them that God knows and is there during trials, then this song has served its purpose. “He Knows” is also transformed acoustically to feature just Jeremy and his guitar (in the deluxe edition), with the lyrics and vulnerability of the song shining with just an acoustic guitar as the musical background.
“Christ in Me”, another radio friendly song that encourages us to delve into Christ’s Word, His promises, and everything else He has for us; is another standout, and wouldn’t surprise me if it becomes a radio single later on during 2015. “Living Word” and “I Will Follow” move into rock territory as hand claps and gang vocals invite us to participate in what is considered to be the rockiest melody he has done since “Reckless”- “I Will Follow” is a daily reminder that ‘…I will follow You wherever You go…’ With electronic drumming and synth guitars that bring a southern country twag into a song that is just as unique as it is catchy, “Living Word” further expounds on the theme of the title track as Jeremy brings track 1 to light in the poignancy of how ‘…I will stand on the truth in the living word of God…it’s alive in me, the very breath I breathe…’ With a powerful drum beat and a sound we have come to love from Jeremy from albums gone by, “Living Word”, alongside the title track, are bound to bring in listeners who were fans of Jeremy prior to Speaking Louder than Before.
A track that stood out to me from the get-go is “Finally Home”, a song that reminds us that this world is not our home, and that everything that is wrong in this life will be made right and ‘…we’ll be together when I’m finally home…’ With a catchy beat, powerful guitar hooks, Jeremy’s declaratory voice and gang vocals, it is arguably the most different track Jeremy has done since the title track from his 2008 album. “Til the End”, though short at a tad over 3 minutes, brings the message of fighting til the end for the things we believe are true and while this song may be lost in the sea of 16 tracks within I Will Follow: Deluxe Edition (admittedly, “Til the End” wasn’t necessarily as memorable as previously discussed tracks in this review), Jeremy still delivers this song well, with a strong rock/worship presence.
“Same Power” has a similar theme to Michael W. Smith’s “The Same Power” (though not the same song), with Jeremy powerfully asserting that the same power that Jesus had during His life is available to us during and throughout every circumstance we are in and a part of; while drum beats and eerily unique keyboard reverb moments start off “Here I Am”, a song that ends the standard edition of the album that brings forth the theme of us surrendering to God as we powerfully assert that ‘…all of me, reaching to the places that I cannot see, desperate I need You to move me, here I am…’ Rock anthem “We are the Dreamers” harkens back to the theme of Martin Luther King’s speech of us having dreams of improbable and impossible things (but with God it will be possible) as Jeremy invites us all to be dreamers and use our imagination and our calling to accomplish endless possibilities in whatever role we find ourselves in throughout life; and southern rock continues to rise up in Jeremy through songs like “Only in You” and “Can’t Be Moved”, each song giving us a daily and continuous reminder that it is only in Christ we can live each day, and that the Kingdom of Christ can’t be moved or shaken, regardless of our own emotions and what we believe or feel on any given day.
With the acoustic version of “Here I Am” closing out the deluxe edition of the album alongside the acoustic “He Knows”, “Spirit Now”, “Perfect Love” and “Be Still” round out the songs on the sixteen track deluxe edition of I Will Follow. While “Spirit Now” at times sounded like a Hillsong melody (not that I have anything against Hillsong, but rather most of their songs aren’t necessarily the most memorable or even catchy), Jeremy nevertheless has provided a song for the church that reminds us to declare God’s Spirit to come move in His people. Standing at 5 minutes, piano heavy “Be Still” encourages us to take the road of being still before the Lord as we know to ‘…be still and know that You are enough, though my heart is racing, still You’re in control…’, bringing the song to an orchestral anthem midway through the song; while “Perfect Love” returns Jeremy to an upbeat style as this radio friendly song reassures us that God’s perfect love casts out everything that is in our lives that isn’t necessarily of God. A potential single that could be released to radio later on during the year, Jeremy ends the album with a bang to place this album next to I Am They as my favourite album of 2015 so far!
“…In the Old Testament when God was talking to the Israelites, they were rebelling against Him, and it says, but Caleb has a different spirit. He followed me wholeheartedly.’ And that’s what I want to do…” Jeremy Camp’s latest album is a powerful, poignant and prolific one, and my favourite since Speaking Louder than Before in 2008. Fans of his new worshipful material and his older heavier-rock style ought to both enjoy this new album, as we see worship, pop, acoustic, folk, rock and other unique styles collide to form one of the most cohesive and enjoyable album’s I’ve heard this year so far. The theme of following in God’s ways through our lives is evident throughout each of the songs, and while some may boycott Jeremy’s music because of his style change, what I Will Follow has that is different is musical diversity. Evolving from a heavy rock sound to more of a pop-rock radio friendly atmosphere takes discipline and direction, both of which I reckon Jeremy displays- a sense of maturity within these tracks. Some of his best work to date, well done Jeremy for a great album, and one to repeat in my iTunes playlist for months and even years to come!
5 songs to listen to: Living Word, Perfect Love, Finally Home, I Will Follow, We are the Dreamers
RIYL: Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Kutless, Crowder, Sanctus Real
Be sure to check out the new album when it releases on Tuesday. Check out the new video of “I Will Follow” below, and let us know in the comments what you think about the song and video.