Release Date: October 2nd 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The River
- Dancing Through the Fire
- Beloved (Song Sessions)
- Photograph (Song Sessions)
- The River (Song Sessions)
- Brother (Song Sessions)
‘…I really just wanted this to be a project that people would smile when they listened to it. I wanted to write songs that would make people feel loved. I want them to feel good. Whatever the complications of life that we might be going through at any given moment, our relationships with Jesus don’t have to be difficult. We have a tendency to make it so much harder on ourselves than it really is. We think God can’t love us because we’re struggling with something or we messed up somewhere. But it’s not that complicated. God loves us. Our ransom has been paid. The emotional baggage we carry around doesn’t change the truth. We belong to God and He loves us. It really is that simple. We just have to be constantly reminded of that. The work has already been done on the cross. We just have to remind ourselves and each other to believe it…’ This quote by Jordan Feliz, newest signing to Centricity Music, is a timely reminder to all of us, of how to live the Christian life. As discussed heavily in his debut project Beloved, Jordan, who sounds vocally very much like Jimmy Needham, Unspoken, Chris August and Newworldson; delivers quite possibly one of my favourite Centricity Music albums since albums from Lindsay McCaul and Lauren Daigle. With a soul/funk/acoustic atmosphere that is littered throughout the album, these 6 songs, including the hard-hitting hit single “The River”, the catchy and toe-tapping “Dancing Through the Fire”, and the heartfelt and honest title track; plus 4 acoustically ‘song session’ melodies are such to be enjoyed if you are a fan of these aforementioned artists, or if you enjoy music that is drastically different (in a good way) than anything I’ve heard on CCM in a while (in fact, Jordan is the first out-of-the-box artist I’ve heard since for KING AND COUNTRY).
Released as a single earlier on during the year, “The River” is as catchy and enjoyable, and quite possibly one of my favourite songs by any artist to release on radio since “Shoulders” by for KING AND COUNTRY. And not just because of the simple yet equally profound melody and theme- how we can go down to the river of life and be washed clean. And not just because the melody and its atmosphere harkens back to the 90s (in a good way). But rather of the energy and passion of Jordan, and if Chris August, Jimmy Needham, Unspoken and Newworldson (maybe even Shawn McDonald) all came together for a collaboration, this song would be the result. I reckon that his similarity both musically and vocally to all these aforementioned artists will really work in Jordan’s favour. With a powerful drum beat, and Jordan’s soulful voice, “The River” is a standout on the EP. As we are reminded that ‘…the song itself is an invitation to anyone who hears it—whether they’re stuck in pride and legalism or wallowing down in the mess they’ve made of their lives—it’s an invitation to take whatever we have and to run to Jesus…’, we are met also with an acoustically driven version (“The River (Song Sessions)”) of the song as well- this time highlighting more of the keys and layered percussion and taking the emphasis off the guitars, delivering a different and unique perspective of an already infectiously enjoyable song.
The title track, “Beloved”, is yet another standout on the EP, and as Jordan vocally channels both Chad Mattson (of Unspoken) and Chris August at once, we are presented with a theme poignant and central to be known by anyone who hears it, that we are ‘…beloved, I wanted you to know, you are beloved, let it soak into your soul, forget the lies you heard, rise above the hurt, and listen to these words…’ Lyrically the richest song on Jordan’s first collection of songs, we hear from Jordan himself how much this song means for him, and how even though he wrote the song for his unborn daughter for the hope she can grow up and believe for herself that she is beloved, we can see this song also from God’s perspective, Him singing to us that we as a human race are beloved. Whatever we feel for our kids and what our parents feel for us is just a slither of what God feels for us. “Beloved” is also given a ‘song session’ treatment, with all the percussion stripped back and the highlight placed on Jordan’s voice and acoustic guitars. “Brother”, a song made famous by needtobreathe and mainstream artist Gavin DeGraw, is quite possibly the most famous crossover hit to chart both the Christian and mainstream charts in 2015, so it would make sense that an acoustic/soul/pop artist like Jordan would cover this song as the album’s last track. And while I haven’t heard of many, if any, covers of “Brother”, Jordan’s stripped down acoustic version takes the cake. A song that is a comfort to many, as well as providing resolve to declare to our brothers and sisters (both earthly and spiritually in Christ) that we are relied upon to take care of them during their time of need; Jordan’s rendition makes me love the song more and more. Why oh why was the Gavin DeGraw single version of the hit song not included on WOW Hits 2016?
With “Rejoice” being written recorded and even performed acoustically for fans ever since 2014, this high energy 3:06 melody is one of festivity, reverbing vocals, and Jordan placing on his Samestate meets Seabird hat (he sounds very similar to both Dalton Diehl and Aaron Morgan in this track) as the concept of rejoicing and having a rejoicing spirit is put to the fore of the track. While the shortest song on the album, it is easily one of the most poignant and one of my favourites. And with a gospel choir towards the end, and Jordan declaring for us to ‘…rejoice, you’re the reason now to come alive, you’re the hope that starts a fire in us…’, the song is hopefully as infectious and fun to hear as any other fast-spreading fashion, fad or fun-filled pop song on the radio. “Satisfied” slows down the instrumentation a bit to bring forth the lyrics of us being satisfied alone in Christ, while it is “Simple” that lays down the theme of the EP as a whole, and though only a tad over 3 minutes, speaks to us volumes of what it means to truly be a Christian. It breaks down the gospel into simple bite-sized pieces, and reminds us just how simple the gospel really is- that while we were sinners, Christ died and rose again for us, so that we can make it back to our Father in a way that doesn’t require us repenting of our sins each and every day.
“Photograph”, recorded as a ‘song session’ and a cover of the very famous Ed Sheeran song, speaks about the persona wrestling through a break-up, and while the melody seems very out of place on an album that’s supposed to be inspirational, what this song is a reminder of is the somewhat transientness of earthly relationships, that rather, we as Christians ought to consciously and continuously pursue relationship with God above all other. “Dancing Through the Fire” rounds out the 10 tracks, and shows us that even in certain calamity, we can dance through it because we know and have the perspective that God has, all the while knowing and believing that ‘…there’s only one thing in this life that’s for sure, nothing can separate us from Your love…we’ll be dancing through the fire…’ The most soulful song on the EP, “Dancing Through the Fire” channels a lot of Jimmy Needham and Chris August, which is a good thing. In fact, this song alone proves how much of an influence I’m sure these artists like Chris, Jimmy, Shawn McDonald, Unspoken and newworldson are on Jordan, his writing and music style.
Releasing his album on the same day as Capital Kings (II), Tim Timmons (Awake Our Souls) and Manafest (Reborn); Jordan Feliz is certain to be in circulation, on radio and in people’s homes, in weeks, months and possibly years to come. With such an infectious, powerful and enthusiastic musical atmosphere, this is an EP I’ve never been more excited for since Kaleidoscope’s debut EP last month. While Jordan has made the transition from being in the rock/metal genre, to acoustic/pop/CCM; it is his lyrics of honest transparency and his passion to create music that’ll impact those around him, that will make Beloved a much loved EP both now and into the future. Fans of Shawn, Chris, Jimmy, and bands newworldson and Unspoken are sure to love this album. From “The River” to his cover of “Brother”, Jordan’s message is central and unwavering, that we are always and constantly loved by the King, and that is why and where our confidence comes from. Well done Jordan for such and inspiring EP/album, can’t wait to hear the next one whenever it arises.
3 songs to listen to: Dancing Through the Fire, The River, Beloved
RIYL: newworldson, Chris August, Shawn McDonald, Jimmy Needham, Unspoken