Release Date: August 28th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- No One But You
- We Will Rise
- Move Me On
- One Name
‘…the church wants you to be healed, but they don’t have a lot of patience. It seems like you have to put on a fake smile and hide how you’re really feeling. People don’t always take the time to listen…[God doesn’t necessarily] call the equipped. He equips who He calls. That has stuck with me and given me the courage to do what He’s called me to. If God is with me, I can do all things. I can do more than survive. I can thrive. If others can see the power of God to do such a work in my life and then translate it to their own, to really believe that they can do more than just get by, I’ve done my job…’ Natasha Owens. Not necessarily a household name, not years ago when her debut album I Made It Through released on iTunes, and maybe not even now with the release of her new EP No One But You. Yet you don’t have to be a household name for your music to be poignant, enjoyable, heartfelt and impacting, which is exactly what Natasha’s music is. From accepting a music ministry position at her local church out the tragedy of her father’s untimely and unfortunate accidental death, to releasing one album and one EP, each to critical acclaim, Natasha’s earnest and honest lyrical and musical layering of these 5 songs makes her soar into one of my favourite independent artists in 2015, and an artist I reckon ought to be at least considered for a major label signing in the upcoming months ahead. Maybe Integrity Music or Capitol CMG? These 5 songs have worship at the forefront, and have an overall theme of rising from adversity. With her vocals reminding me distinctly of Janna Long of Avalon, Natasha’s music is certain to be enjoyed by anyone who loves artists like Natalie Grant, Avalon, Amy Grant or Mandisa.
Standing at only 5 tracks, the EP’s lack of songs is made up for by its heartfelt and poignant nature, as Natasha channels both Janna Long and Mandisa in the title track, as the theme of giving everything we have, good or bad, to God is approached in this song. Vocally powerful, maybe even on par with some of Natalie Grant’s powerhouse melodies in terms of vocal quality, Natasha evokes a necessary theme, that no one but God can take everything in our lives and turn it all around for our good and His glory. It is the chorus that is the most impactful, for me at least, and as Natasha reminds us all that ‘…no one but You can turn all my pain into peace, can turn all my doubts to believe, no one but You, can take all the tears that I’ve cried, and mend all the pieces inside, I’m giving it all to You, no one but You…’, we are brought a melody, one that continues to climb fast on my list of favourite songs written by indie artists within the last half of 2015 so far. With a steady drum beat and hauntingly refreshing vocals, Natasha’s raw honesty, not just in this song, but throughout the EP as a whole, is what hopefully makes her music appealing.
“We Will Rise”, debuting as a music video on NRT in November, is the central message of what the EP is about. While Natasha’s first album was all about making it through adversity and disaster, this EP conveys the fact that after making it through, we will indeed rise above it all and become the people God has created us to be, and that through the adversity, we’d trust us less and Him more. Fit for radio, and in fact, fit for Sunday worship services around the world, Natasha uses a simple, yet equally profound chorus to draw us all in as we focus our eyes on Christ. Knowing that ‘…we will rise, we will rise, rise above the ashes, rise above the fire, lift your heads, lift your eyes, Jesus is faithful, faithful to revive…’ ought to be comfort for many, myself included. The accompanying music video shows Natasha singing against the backdrop of many abandoned buildings, and stone structures. Different compared to hundreds of music videos either filmed live on tour, or standing in one location for the entire duration of the song, Natasha oozes passion and enthusiasm, and if “We Will Rise” is any indication, then Natasha’s future as a label artist could be right around the corner.
Throughout the rest of the EP, Natasha continues to bring us themes of hope, encouragement and rising through difficulty. “Wings”, another radio friendly song, adds to it a sense of humbleness and vulnerability and asks the question- if we knew all the trials and tribulations, the hurt, the despair, yet also the triumphs, blessings, and wonderful moments in our lives thus far, would we still make the same choices and decisions, knowing full well the life we have lived? If we had a do-over, would we change a thing? Natasha asserts that she wouldn’t, and I am inclined to declare the same also. Every road we travel along is another opportunity to grow into the God-like men (and women) we were created to be, and that means experiencing both the great and not-so-great moments of life. God carries us in His wings, which is what “Wings” is, a comfort to those in their time of need. “One Name”, a worshipful track that is reminiscent of something that Mandisa or Laura Story would record, is a timely and powerful reminder that God’s name is the only One who we can call upon during our time in need. A song that can easily slot into a Sunday morning song set-list for churches around the world, it is this song I reckon that will place Natasha on the map, a melody that’ll be hopefully popular in and amongst churches sooner rather than later. “Move Me On” rounds out the 5 tracks on the EP, and was borne from the day when she learned about her father’s untimely death, and the powerlessness that came in the days after the realisation.
As we are challenged, not just by “Move Me On” but by the whole EP in general, to hold onto God in those dark times, knowing full well He’ll move us on from where we are to somewhere better and unfathomably much more healing and exhilarating than we can dream of; Natasha’s EP is one to be placed on repeat, certainly on my own iTunes playlist, for weeks and months to come. While pursuing music as a career later in life, Natasha’s fervent honesty and hope-filled lyrical moments in each of these tracks ought to be enough for anyone who is a fan of pop/CCM artists like Mandisa, Laura Story, Amy Grant or Natalie Grant, to check out Natasha and her music. As she reminds us about healing and survival from difficult trials, ‘…for many people, as soon as they make it through the given crisis, they stop there. They stagnate…the stagnation and survival isn’t the end of it. When we go through something that leaves us so broken, we have to give Him the credit for pulling us through. We have to show empathy and help others through it. We have to be out there with the broken…’ It is out of our own rising from adversity that we can help others and show them a way out if they’re in a situation full of uncertainty. No One But You is an EP certain to be this vessel of encouragement to many, and one that’ll assert Natasha as one of my favourite indie artists of the year since Joy Lippard’s album release in March 2015. Well done Natasha for such a compelling and heartfelt EP. Here’s to the next album whenever it releases!
3 songs to listen to: We Will Rise, One Name, Wings
RIYL: Natalie Grant, Mandisa, Laura Story, Amy Grant, Avalon