Release Date: January 5th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Chasing the Wind
- Larger than Life
- Shape of Your Heart
- Drown Me In Your Love
New artists release music all the time. More so now than ever before. Back during CCM’s heyday when artists like Jaci Velasquez, Plus One, ZoeGirl, Rebecca St. James, Jars of Clay and Ginny Owens were played and circulated through on radio during the 2000s, you have a certain picture- that as the years go by, the amount of new artists releasing music and being involved in the music industry is increasing, often at times at an alarming rate. Way back when, you’d have a handful of artists to pick from when choosing which CCM album to pick, now you’d almost have to step back and evaluate, to look at the amount of choices from a distance before you dive in, so that you don’t feel overwhelmed with the amount of artists you could choose from. Now enter in Katelyn McCarter, yet another new artist ready to spread her wings and unveil to the world a collection of songs that speak about her faith in Jesus. Released on Tuesday 5th January, Katelyn’s music is a mixture of pop meets epic drum prominent rock, a fusion of BarlowGirl, Mandisa and Blanca from Group 1 Crew, if you were able to compare Katelyn’s music. Yet I’ve found with each new artist that comes into the horizon of CCM, to compare them to another established (or otherwise retired) artist has seemed futile to say the least- each new artist has a unique style, and often, it can take many artist comparisons to figure out what a particular new artist’s sound is like.
In Katelyn’s instance, this is a 5 song EP certain to be enjoyed if you enjoy Christian pop, yet in the vein of something not so much refined as it has been on radio at the moment. A throwback to a time when music was a little bit more raw and honest. That’s not to say that music right now isn’t as likeable or enjoyable, but sometimes it takes a person like Katelyn and her music to remind us of the different styles and eras that music has travelled through from then til now. From the title track to her heartfelt ballad “Unmistakable” and the prayerful “Drown Me in Your Love”; this is a must for anyone who loves a bit of a throwback, who longs to experience a myriad of musical genres, and be reminded that good music transcends time and decades, musical genres and everything else in between. With only one listen a few days ago, I’m certain that Katelyn will become a major label signee in the future, and will become a great impact in the world of CCM in the upcoming months ahead.
Standing at only 5 tracks (which is one of the drawbacks, considering that this EP is my favourite of 2016 so far…it’s the only EP I’ve heard this year, but still), Chasing the Wind is a testament to the boldness of Katelyn and how she stands tall in her faith, even if the wind tries to toss her this way and that. The title track has a big drum beat, something that you’d hear from BarlowGirl with Lauren Barlow’s powerful drum emphasis in a song like “Hope Will Lead Us On”. Powerful and anthemic, Katelyn emphasises how much we need to realise that ‘…I was made to be a daughter after Your heart, You want the real me, and not some copy, and if I lose myself trying to pretend, it’s not worth it, it’s like chasing the wind…’ This is who we are- sons and daughters of God Himself, and that if we settle for anything less, we will never be satisfied in a life where humanity is constantly chasing after something to fill the void that is already there from the start. Though only 3:14, the song speaks volumes and is a clear reminder of how much we need to stand firm in our beliefs. Musically one of 2016’s most ingenious and different songs, complete with a steady drum beat, distorted vocals and a passion oozing out of Katelyn that I’ve never heard from a female singer since Lauren Daigle back in 2014, “Chasing the Wind” paves the way for the other four songs to shine, making this EP one of the most musically diverse I’ve heard since Nichole Nordeman’s The Unmaking EP!
Throughout the rest of the EP, we see a side of Katelyn that has never been unveiled in music for a while, not since hearing albums from artists like Josh Wilson, Nichole Nordeman and Andrew Peterson last year. Having the ability to deliver songs that are catchy musically yet vulnerable and emotive lyrically is a gift, something that Katelyn has and will be an asset for her in the years that follow this EP’s release. “Unmistakable” is a ballad that gives us a timely reminder of how God never makes mistakes, that that all that we travel through that was difficult and hurting, though not caused by God, is definitely used by Him as He continuously shapes and moulds us into the people He longs for us to be. Vocally reminding me of both Lindsay McCaul and Kerrie Roberts at once, Katelyn soulfully declares that we can overcome our trials with the help of Christ, that ‘…even though the storm has left you cold, the skies are gonna open up tomorrow, you can overcome, you will rise above it, hold on, He will lift you up from the ashes…’ Comforting and identity declaring, “Unmistakable” is as poignant as the title track, maybe even more so.
“Drown Me in Your Love”, a piano led song about us declaring a plea to God, with our hearts ‘…open wide, falling into Your arms, cover me now, save me somehow, oh God, drown me in Your love…’, is a great EP ender as we are brought back to something reflective as Katelyn reminds us that we all need help and assistance sometimes; while “Shape Of Your Heart” is a 2 minute electronic drum beat looping toe-tapping pop melody about us emulating the heart of Christ, that whatever we do or say should reflect the shape of God’s heart, which is what we as Christians and children of God ought to emulate all our days. The EP finishes with “Larger Than Life”, a synth driven melody that reminds listeners of what should come out of our salvation, that the days we live and experience should be larger than life, that ‘…we got that fire in our eyes, and it’s burning hot like summer nights, and we’re turn it up, come in the light, and this crazy love we have inside is larger than life…’ Our life and our actions should reflect what we believe, which is what “Larger Than Life”s message is about.
While the EP is sadly over before it had begun (personally I reckon 5 tracks for an EP is too short…maybe 6 or 7), Katelyn’s collection of songs is as good as any other artist on a label. In fact, dare I say that the quality of this independent recording is at times surpassing that of other pop/CCM albums of artists that have been signed? With Katelyn’s vocals reminding me of artists like Mandisa, Kerrie Roberts, Lindsay McCaul or BarlowGirl, fans of these aforementioned artists will thoroughly enjoy Katelyn and her music, in fact, fans of any pop/CCM will find Katelyn’s music to be infectious, enjoyable and uplifting. A certain purchase for me whenever Katelyn releases a full-length album, this is a great opportunity for many to listen and hear an artist that I’m sure will become a prominent player in CCM in the upcoming months and years. Well done Katelyn for such a powerful collection of 5 songs. Certain to be a fan for many, many years to come!
3 songs to listen to: Larger Than Life, Unmistakable, Chasing the Wind
RIYL: Lindsay McCaul, BarlowGirl, Blanca, Kerrie Roberts, Mandisa