Lifestyle Music Group
Release Date: January 15th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- O’ Happy Day
- Shine (feat. Heavenly Joy)
- Hallelujah (feat. Kirk Franklin & Lindsey Stirling)
- Walking on Water
- The Call
- 70, 000
- Lord, I Need You
- Nothing But the Blood
- Imagine That
- Hosanna (The Greatest Hero)
- Hallelujah (Spanish Version)
One of this year’s most anticipated and unique album releases (think vocally of Mandisa and Avalon’s Janna Long coming together, and then you’d have an idea of how newcomer to Christian music Joy Enriquez sounds like), The Call by singer/songwriter powerhouse Joy Enriquez is one of January’s best kept secrets up until now. With virtually no publicity or even an iTunes pre-order up until the release date of January 15th, this album, which was continually pushed back, from October 2015 til November and then til now, brings and fuses together a myriad of genres, from ballads, worship songs and pop melodies, to remix songs and rap as well. With her background being in mainstream pop, Joy’s shift in focus from singing pop songs to singing songs about her faith as she encourages others and herself in the Christian life, is as paramount as it is poignant when it comes to the passion and enthusiasm that she exudes in her 14 tracks. From emotive and compelling “Hallelujah” (featuring the violin prowess of Lindsey Stirling, who previously collaborated with Owl City on “Beautiful Times”), to “Shine”, a song co-sung with her 5 year old daughter Heavenly Joy, and covers of Matt Maher’s “Lord I Need You” and the ever popular hymn “Nothing But the Blood”, this is an album for anyone who loves contemporary Christian pop, in a similar musical vein to Avalon, Mandisa or Mary Mary.
Quite possibly one of the most powerful and emotive voices I’ve heard since artists like Natalie Grant, Mandisa and Nicole C. Mullen back in the day, Joy Enriquez’s introduction into Christian music with the powerful, poignant and chart-topping hit “Hallelujah”, this 2015 single featuring the musical prowess of violinist Lindsey Sterling and gospel legend Kirk Franklin is as good as any. A song that declares God’s name above any other, we are able to declare alongside Joy, amongst the light acoustics, strong powerful vocals and Lindsey’s exceptional violin playing; that ‘…You are mighty, You are Lord, no one greater than You, Yahweh, all the angels, all the world singing hallelujah…and we will all bow down in worship, Hallelujah…’ With the addition of Kirk Franklin’s spoken-word bridge, reminding us all of the sovereign nature of God our Father, Joy’s first radio hit in a while is one to listen to on repeat on iTunes for a while yet. There is even a Spanish recording of the song as the final track on the album, a nod to Joy’s Latin American heritage and inclusion for many Americans who have Spanish/Mexican heritage. Arguably the song to hear if you want to be introduced to an artist in a similar musical vein to others like Mandisa, Nicole C. Mullen or Rachel Lampa; the addition of Kirk and Lindsey enhances an already powerful and identity-building song, one of 2015’s best.
Boasting cover “Lord I Need You” (Matt Maher), and recording it without any deviation from the original recording, we see Joy pour out her emotion amongst the hauntingly refreshing acoustic guitars and looping percussion in quite possibly my favourite Matt Maher song ever- tying with “Your Grace is Enough”. While “Nothing But the Blood” originally thought to be a rerecorded hymn rendition, initially starts off that way, yet turns into an original country-esque worship anthem a la Carrie Underwood meets Red Roots meets Whosoever South, a song that you could hear on country radio, or as background music you’d play in 1950s retro café’s/bars. With its message being as simple as what was originally conveyed in the hymn that it was based, that it’s only through Jesus’s blood that we come to Christ; Joy has recorded one of my favourite songs from The Call.
“O Happy Day”, another song I initially thought was a re-recording of the song popularised in Sister Act 2; was again an original song, with hand claps, light acoustic guitars and a bouncy atmosphere as the first track to the album brings into the forefront the theme of joy; while “Hosanna (The Greatest Hero)”, a song that sounds very hymn-like, is a great reminder of the story of Jesus, and a song fit to be in any Sunday worship service around the world. With powerful drum beats and Joy’s enthusiastic voice, we are met with the truth that ‘…there’s a longing in my heart to sing the wonders of Your majesty, with every knee will bow and tongue confess, You are the king of righteousness…’ Let’s just say that “Hosanna” is a familiar-yet-not-familiar track, a song that has the potential of being “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)” 2.0, if given the chance at radio airplay in the future. “Shine”, featuring Joy’s daughter Heavenly Joy singing a segment of Children’s hymn “This Little Light”, is another example of a song that’s destined to excel like “Hallelujah”. A song that encourages us all to fight the good fight and shine where we are (a song that has been used as an anthem by many suffering from cancer, especially breast cancer), the collaboration of both Joy and Heavenly Joy is another strong point in the album.
Throughout the rest of the album, we see Joy bring to light different and unique themes, each of them poignant and prominent in their own right as we see quite possibly one of the most underrated voices in the music industry currently right now. “Conquer” starts off as an acoustic ballad that soars into a hauntingly refreshing anthem that reminds us all that we can conquer anything that life throws in front of us with Christ in us, with Joy even using the technique of vocal layering to bring to us a song certain to be as emotive and poignant than any song recorded in 2016 thus far; while “Walking on Water” brings the piano to the fore as the theme of undertaking the impossible is drawn out in this song. Sounding vocally very similar to artists like Blanca or Mary Mary, in this song particular, Joy declares that ‘…when the storms over, we’ll be walking on water…’, reminding us that with Christ in us, we can do the same and even more than what Jesus could ever do. “Shelter”, “The Call” and “70,000” form the backbone of the middle section of the album, and each melody brings a different musical style to the listener (gospel, piano ballad, CCM). “Shelter” is a moment of clarity where Joy declares from the outset that Jesus is our shelter where we can hide while we’re in the depths of our struggles; while “The Call” is an anthem for many, with Joy making it clear that calling on Jesus is a viable option as any, when we’re feeling overwhelmed, hurting, fearful and uncertain about the life we’re living in. “70,000” brings to us the topic of forgiveness, and that we will never understand the depths and the width of God’s love, that the amount of times He forgives us is more than 70,000 as described in the song.
“Imagine That” and “Wonderful” bring the album to a close with a different side of Joy and the style of music she brings to the world of Christian music. “Imagine That” is a song that relays the message of not being able to imagine a world without our Saviour Jesus, and with the song marrying together dance-pop with remix undertones, essentially creating two songs inside the one, “Imagine That” continues to fast become one of my favourite tracks from The Call. “Wonderful” is dance music at its purest form, and with Joy channelling Mandisa or Blanca in this song, this infectious song about it being wonderful that God holds the world in His hands, but still longs for a real relationship with each of us, is as enjoyable and poignant as every other song on The Call. With a strong (musically and lyrically) album as The Call, it’s no wonder why the album was on my most anticipated album’s list for 2016 (and has certainly lived up to all my expectations and more so!).
What have I said about Joy and her music that I haven’t said already? That fans of artists like Nicole C. Mullen, Mandisa, Mary Mary or Rachael Lampa will enjoy this album? That her movement into Christian music from mainstream has mirrored that of Chris August and Naomi Stiemer (and how they also moved from mainstream to Christian music), and The Joy is a testament to the change, and how Christ continues to bring us joy in our lives, even from the littlest of moments. The Call is a great standout in January 2016, and together with albums like Rachel Platten’s Wildfire, Passion’s Salvation’s Tide is Rising, Jesus Culture’s Let it Echo and the forthcoming Deeper (Meredith Andrews) and Worship and Believe (Steven Curtis Chapman) (yes, I have pre-release albums of both Meredith and Steven’s album, and will be reviewing them on 365 Days of Inspiring Media); anchor the quality of music in 2016 so far. If you love gospel music, worship music, and music with a different twist compared to any CCM on radio thus far, then look no further than The Call, my favourite gospel infused album I’ve heard since Mandisa’s Overcomer!
4 songs to listen to: Hosanna (The Greatest Hero), Hallelujah, Shine, Imagine That
RIYL: Natalie Grant, Avalon, Mandisa, Mary Mary, Rachael Lampa, Jaci Velasquez