Provident Label Group
Release Date: April 21st 2015
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Every Little Song
- Stained Glass
- Nothing Better
- Wherever You Are
- Ever Chasing God
- Rolling, Rolling, Rolling
- Bound For Glory
- The One We’re Looking For
- I Will Follow
- Enough For Me
Recording Live Worship From Vertical Church in July 2012; The Rock Won’t Move in October 2013 and Church Songs a few weeks ago; Vertical Church Band, the worship part of the Harvest Bible Chapel ministry based in Chicago, have given us worship anthems and gems that are destined to be popular many years in the future. With worship leaders like Meredith Andrews, Andi Rozier, Kylee Friedricks, Seth McConkey, and Jacob Sooter showcasing their talents; many songs such as “Open up the Heavens”, “Not For a Moment (After All)”, “Spirit Of The Living God”, “Do What You Want To”, “It’s Who You Are”, “Restore My Soul”, “How Great Is The Love”, “Word Of God”, “Strong God”, “The Rock Won’t Move” and “I’m Going Free (Jailbreak)” have caught the attention of many, with Vertical Church’s third offering being 12 tracks of brutal honesty, raw emotion, and total devotion to our Lord and Saviour!
Bringing many different worship leaders all serving the same God into a space that doesn’t discriminate, a space that serves the one purpose of making Jesus famous; with the most recent result once again nothing short of sheer brilliance. Now, one of the worship leaders in Vertical Church Band, Jon Guerra, has released his label full length debut album this week, titled Little Songs. A familiar tune, “I Will Follow” anchors the album; and Jon shows us why he is one of todays’ up and coming worship artists! Similar vocally to Bellarive and Josh Wilson, and musically to Leeland; Little Songs is a release you won’t want to miss, and I guarantee that plenty of songs will have a bigger impact on everyone, more so than the title suggests!
“I Will Follow” is one of the album closers and is one of my favourite track on the album! Recorded as an acoustic version and the first radio single on his previous EP, the version here is a third new version, with the electric guitar gently introduced, building the piece into a fervent and passionate all-out worship anthem as the song progresses. But in all three versions, there is a reflective acoustic guitar driving the worship anthem. Giving us pause for thought, Jon eloquently expresses that following God despite suffering in the world, and despite the sometimes difficulties in our circumstances or situations, takes guts and courage. Lyrically reminding me of something Job would sing, as Jon belts out the chorus, that ‘…I believe everything that You say You are, I believe and I’ve seen Your unchanging heart, in the good things, and in the hardest part, I believe and I will follow You…’; we realize that following God when we don’t feel like it, and trusting Him because He is faithful, can only enhance the way people view us.
The upbeat country/bluegrass tune “Bound In Glory”, where Jon does a Phil Wickham impression, was also recorded on Church Songs, and is driven by electric guitar. Speaking about being destined for great things because Jesus in with us and has our life known from since the dawn of time, the melody brings us comfort as Jesus has everything known and planned since the beginning (and this point is bound to create controversy and discussion, which may be expanded upon in another post!).
“Enough For Me”, “Stained Glass” and “Wherever You Are” are the other melodies already previously recorded that are present here, with the other 6 tracks being totally brand new melodies. The piano led acoustic melody “Stained Glass”, similar in theme to Casting Crowns’ “Stained Glass Masquerade”, depicts how God sees us as beautiful treasures and that He can make us new and afresh, wiping away our mistakes and failures. As Jon prayerfully sings out to God ‘…show me what you see when you look at me, show me what is real within what I feel, we’re all stained, it’s true, when Your light shines through, we all look like stained glass windows to You…’, the realisation that our worth transcends our viewpoints and is based on Jesus, is evident, as we are given affirmation that we are priceless in God’s eyes, a notion that should make us proud.
While the acoustic guitar led slow tempo “Wherever You Are” gently reminds us that God is here with us and will never leave us, and that He will come and met us where we are at, no matter how ashamed or guilty we may feel, as Jon paraphrases Romans 8:39 in the explosive and poignant bridge; it is “Enough For Me”, a moment of unbridled and unreserved free, honest and real worship against a backdrop of light synth and acoustics, that is the pinnacle of the album. Epitomising the theme of glass- being transparent for God, and coming straight from our hearts, the invitation is given as we declare ‘…I have everything, all I ever need, cause Your love for me is enough, You gave everything, somehow I can sing that Your love for me is enough…’. This song is truly a special song, as we are lost in the worship of Jon to God, and once again I am marvelled at the exquisite lyrical prowess of Jon, which is only going to increase. Well don Jon for these five songs that minister and speak to our souls.
Though the 5 songs aforementioned have been heard before, the rest of the six songs are no less powerful and impacting. Radio pop single “Nothing Better”, Jon’s first music video, is brilliantly sung and driven by keys, in a passionate hand clapping and remixy type moment of praise, dance and celebration, as Jon ardently reminds us that there’s nothing better than God’s love, and that it is His love that rescues us from the depths of our struggles and our circumstances. As Jon sings out that there’s ‘…You put the song in my heart, You put the drum in my march, and now I’m doing my part to tell the world that there is…’, I am encouraged and inspired to lvie out my faith more and passionately declare my testimony and personal journey with those around me, boasting about the love and security I have found in Christ. While the 2 minute acoustic guitar slow tempo offering “Every Little Song” highlights the notion that every little thing we do in our lives can and should be glorifying to God, pointing people to Him and His love; Jon explores more complex and layered themes in the rest of his songs.
The subdued, reflective and contemplative piano ballad “Ever Chasing God” delves into the theme that God is always with us, always beside us, and that he’s always chasing after us, regardless whether we fall or actively turn away, God is always moving and pursuing us like the father in the parable of the lost son, and the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep; and he forgives us more times than we deserve; what a fantastic notion! The mid-tempo celebratory piano and guitar prominent pop/CCM guitar worship anthem “Rolling, Rolling, Rolling” seems to be influenced a tad by country inspirations, and has Jon reiterates that God will send our sins rolling away from us as he shapes us and remakes us into a new person.
The synth heavy and piano unfused haunting and mysterious ballad “Speak” draws us in with its minimal instruments, later on swelling to an epic orchestral anthem. Challenging us to be still and silent, as we hear God’s whisper and voice, His direction in our lives, so that we can trust Him more with our lives, Jon eloquently reiterates the extent of his reliance on God, as he makes known that ‘…Your word is marvellous rest, to the chaos in my chest, Your word is a light to my path, the only lamp that I have…’, an assuredness and security that we should all aim to declare with conviction and authority in the near or far future! While the final offering from Jon, “The One We’re Looking For”, led by gentle keys, is a mid-tempo ballad that tells us that our ‘home’ here on earth is only temporary, and that we have eternity with Jesus to look forward to, that ‘…Your book says we are no longer strangers, every step we’re heading towards something better…’. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, this song inspires us to live with an eternal perspective; well done Jon for these introspective and also joyful melodies drawing us closer to God and to a deeper relationship with Him!
As Jon Guerra has executed his debut album exquisitely and almost flawlessly; his worship leading is something to behold. With pristine voice reminding me of singer-songwriters such as Brenton Brown, Jason Castro, Charlie Hall and Jadon Lavik; Little Songs is sure to be treasured, appreciated and admired by many. A fine effort, and one that has me eager for the next new album; Jon has showed us a taste of his talents, and has glorified God greatly as well. A very outstanding job well done, I’ll definitely be dancing to songs like “Bound For Glory” and “Nothing Better”, and prayerfully mediating to melodies like “Speak” and “Enough For Me”!
4 songs to listen to: I Will Follow, Bound For Glory, Nothing Better, Speak
RIYL: Bellarive, Leeland, Phil Wickham, Josh Wilson, Jason Castro