Release Date: June 16th 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Loved By You
- In This World
- Don’t Lose Hope (feat. Jonathan Thulin)
“…so the message of this EP is about God’s grace and how no matter how much we’ve screwed up or no matter how far we’ve gone or how far we’ve been in sin, that God’s grace can reach even further than we could ever think or believe it could go and that there’s always a way back into His arms…” Releasing his self titled EP on the same day as Matt Redman’s high profile live album Unbroken Praise this weeks, Joel Vaughn is an artist that we all should take notice of. Though his release may slip under the radar initially, these independently released yet also professionally and expertly produced 5 songs are some of my favourite of this year, with Joel blending CCM and worship styles, creating an honest, raw and emotional moment of praise and adoration to our God and King. Though I hadn’t heard of Joel’s music prior to this album, the stumbling of this release online (thanks NRT!) has made me an avid fan! So let’s dive in and see how these 5 songs have spoken to and ministered to me…
Opening the tracklist is the eclectic and vibrant mid-tempo guitar led ballad “Loved By You”, which also includes heartfelt synth. An honest and emotional depiction at how we are loved by God, Joel fervently reiterates that no matter how many times we fall down and get ourselves into sticky situations God picks us up again because of His immense love for us. Relaying that ‘…this is grace, this is truth, I don’t deserve it, there’s no way to earn it, I’m loved by You, this is hope, this is peace, for chaos to beautiful, I’m giving You all control…’; the album opener, which shares a deep and eternal truth, is the perfect way to start as the theme of God’s grace and love flows through the whole album. “In This World”, led by the acoustic guitar, is a sung from the point of those who are still searching for meaning and purpose in their lives, regardless if they are believers or not. We are all plagued with doubt sometimes, and in this soaring and insightful melody, Joel emphatically reminds us that we’re all still in this world, search for our place in it, but thankfully Jesus has won the war, therefore our place is with Him, which Joel makes known at the end of the song. I will definitely have this song as well as the album opener on repeat on my iTunes player, well done Joel!
Slowing the tempo down a bit, the piano only contemplative and melancholy “Remember”, co-written with Jonathan Thulin, speaks of remembering all of the good moments and holding onto the hope that things will get better. As Joel reminds us that we can use the good moments that God has given us as a source of courage during the times when life doesn’t make sense, we are met with a sense of anticipation, as Joel sings out that ‘…I never was good and good byes, so I refuse to say it this time, I’ll just sit and wait til we meet again…’, possibly about a friend or relative who has died, and the happiness that they are in heaven with Jesus. The acoustic guitar driven “Stars” is a stripped back worship song to Jesus, relaying the fact that our Creator, the Maker, made the stars and everything in them, and that He is sovereign, majesty, holy and worthy of all of our praise.
Yet it is the album closer, the emphatic and resounding epic inspirational anthem “Don’t Lose Hope”, sung with Jonathan Thulin, that is the pinnace of what Joel’s music stands for, as a beacon of light and hope reminding people that they are not alone in this walk called life, that Jesus is with them every step of the way. With the piano at the forefront, both Jonathan and Joel passionately sing in harmony and honest emotion, and covey a message that I think is important in this global culture these days. The impacting lyrics of the chorus, where Joel and Jonathan sing out ‘…don’t lose hope, never let go of all that can change you…of all of the things you do…’, is simple, yet effective, as we are encouraged to stand firm and believe in Jesus, holding onto our identity in Christ, never letting the world steal our identity. As this world around us goes deeper and deeper into turmoil, let us always be pressing into Jesus, and remember that hope and faith in Jesus can keep us going in this life until heaven. Well done Joel for a fantastic album closer and to Jonathan for adding a richness and depth to the song and to the EP as well!
“…what I really want people to be left with, with this album is to know that our God is so much greater than anything you could possibly think could separate you from his love, our God is a gracious God, He loves you, He wants to be in a relationship with you, you are invited in, and you are welcome…” As I mentioned earlier, I was surprised in a good way by Joel Vaughn’s self-titled EP; with every song a highlight personally, and Joel’s heart for worship quite admirable. With songs for personal and corporate worship infused together in this short but sweet playlist; what more do I have to say to convince you that this EP is something you all need to listen to? Well done Joel, I can’t wait for your next release!
3 songs to listen to: Loved By You, Remember, Don’t Lose Hope
RIYL: Matthew West, Sanctus Real, Tenth Avenue North, Mikeschair