Release Date: March 25th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Run From Love
- Rome is Burning
- The Real Way
- Dirty Little Friend (F33.9)
- Whoeveryouare (Bonus)
- Faith, Hope and Love (Alternate Mix) (Bonus)
- Love Will Find a Way (Bonus)
It is now March 2016, and with 2 Recalculating EP’s under his belt, Paul Colman has once again released another EP under the umbrella of ‘Recalculating’. And while prior to this collection of songs, his last album release was the 2012 From the Saltland to the River, Paul’s powerful use of music, prose, lyrics and the ability to deliver heartfelt emotion through lyrics that are relatable to the every-man, is what continues to make him one of the world’s most underrated music artists, in any genre and in any country. With stints in the Newsboys and the Paul Colman Trio in the past, Paul continues to blur the line between Christian and secular through making his music intentionally ambigious in the hope to bring in more listeners who may not have heard Christian music before, something that hasn’t necessarily been done that much in the world of CCM anymore. You rarely see an artist in the Christian music scene actively write lyrics that the devoted Christian and the sensitive seeker can both relate to. Nevertheless, Recalculating EP 3 continues that trend.
Paul’s heart continues to encourage and uplift us, and it’s never been more evident than it has been within this Recalculating series. You see artists that have gone before, from Switchfoot, needtobreathe and Skillet, to Carrie Underwood, Lifehouse, and even Plumb in her early years. Artists who are firm in their faith but minister in both the Christian and mainstream music industries. Songs by these artists that have impacted and influenced listeners who enjoy both (or either) styles/genres of music. Paul Colman now joins the group, continuing to impress with this third set of songs titled Recalculating. He has continued to walk the line well between Christian and mainstream music, ministering to listeners of both styles of music. From the first song “Run from Love” to the confronting “Dirty Little Friend”, to the unique representation of “Faith, Hope and Love” as well as the oddly titled “Rome is Burning”; this is a must for anyone who loves Paul and his music, loved his music when he was with the Paul Colman Trio and the newsboys, or just anyone who loves music in general and longs to be challenged about their life and where they’re headed in the future. The beauty about ambiguity in these songs is their wide appeal, which is what I think will be core in the success of Paul’s music in the months and years ahead.
“Run from Love”, the EP’s first song, while it is the shortest, is also one of the most poignant. With the song bringing to us a theme of looking deep within ourselves, and asking the question of why we do or don’t run from love (either romantic or familial love); Paul invites us all to delve down deep into the big questions of life. “…why do I always run from love…” is the first lines of the poignant and thematically heavy chorus, and Paul with these turn of words gives us all something to think about- at times in our lives, do we run from love or the possibility of it out of instinct, worry, concern or any combination of the above? Standing at 3:03, we are encouraged to ask the questions. Maybe we won’t get all the answers but nevertheless a discussion and dialogue will be entered into. Well done Paul for creating the space (as in this song) for us to delve into parts of ourselves we may not have visited in weeks, or even months.
“The Real Way” challenges us in a similar way “Run from Love” does- as Paul challenges us with the question of ‘why’- why we believe the things we do. As he starts the song with confronting yet equally comforting words of how ‘…when you first begin your journey, you’re not sure of what you’re learning, you’re a sponge in the rain, soaking love, soaking pain, and by the time you’re thinking, and you’re looking for a reason, things are set in your soul, that you really can’t explain…’, we realise that this is what we all do- when we’re young, we just follow what we’ve been told, and when we’re older and start to think and comprehend, we realise that often the things we’ve been following were out of uncertainty and ritual rather than just because we believe it. Paul invites us again to be real in “The Real Way”, that if we’re looking for the real way to love, we ought not to look further than Jesus- our mirror and guide to this Christian life. “Faith, Hope and Love”, another standout on EP 3 (in fact, this acoustically driven song is as poignant, maybe even more so, than its EP 2 original version), continues and expounds on the themes in “The Real Way”, relaying that it is faith, hope and love that make people around us believe that we’re truly believers in our God. No matter how good our intentions are in the moment, without love and without displaying our thoughts and feelings out of a basis of love is nothing less than empty words that leave our friends and family bewildered and confused. While the original version of the song brings with it vocal distortion and electric guitar undertones a la U2, its message is nevertheless the same- that even if we believe what we believe, if we don’t have love then what we have is for nought, or in Paul’s own words- ‘…we’re two fleas talking on the dog we’re living on, even if I’m right if I don’t love I’m wrong…’
“Rome Is Burning” and “Dirty Little Friend” are some of the obscure sounding tracks on the EP, and while they may seem out of place in an album full of the theme of recalculating one’s course in life, and turning around to avoid the deepest of destructive moments; both these two songs nevertheless are used by Paul to convey some of the deepest of themes (and often uncomfortable) that are needed to be heard by this generation. With a looping keyboard riff and electronic noises that saturate the musical landscape, “Dirty Little Friend” describes a ‘friend’, he ‘…always comes around, when he hears my laughter sound, he whispers in my ear ‘your end is coming near’…’ We all know what this friend is that Paul is describing. It is the friend that always hangs around us, tearing us down at every point. It is the friend that is only a friend if they receive something in return. It may even be the voices in our head telling us we’re not good enough, or maybe even the devil whispering lies at every turn. No matter what we attribute to our ‘friend’ when we hear this song, Paul invites us all to rid ourselves of them, as we surround ourselves with people who intentionally build us up instead of tear us down.
“Rome is Burning” is more confronting than any song I’ve heard since Switchfoot’s “Selling the News”. While “Selling the News” takes a dig at the media and the news industry, this song that Paul relays to listeners invites us all to take a glimpse at the world today, and know that ‘Rome’ is burning. This metaphor is displayed beautifully- Rome was a superpower of the ancient world, and its fall was brought about from power-hungry men and women wanting to gain more of it at the expense of everyone else. This is what is happening today- with many countries in the world sadly building up their own ‘castles’ when their neighbours in South America, Asia and Africa seemingly have sometimes literally nothing to live on. Paul presents to us a reality- that change is coming, that a revolution is coming, that a time will come when Jesus makes everything right and equality becomes a reality. Til then, “Rome is Burning” ought to convict us to bring about positive change while we wait for Christ to shake the world for His glory and our good!
Throughout the remainder of the EP, Paul continues to offer us themes of faith, encouragement and moments of confrontation as this EP presents a fresh way to look at life through the lens of realism yet also through hope at the same time. “Whoeveryouare” is an acoustically driven happy-go-lucky way of singing to a potential spouse, as Paul presents a song relevant for anyone who has been single for a while. It is a song full of hope, as the persona sings, longing to love and be loved, promising that they will love and cherish their loved one, whomever and wherever they are in the world. It’s like a “Wait For Me” 2.0 16 years later. Who knows, maybe Paul got his inspiration for the song from the popular Rebecca St. James hit? “Love Will Find a Way” (no, not the famous Delirious? melody) is nevertheless a song with a similar theme, as Paul encourages us that the love we have for one another and the love Christ has for us will find a way through any obstacle, will break down any barrier we may have with our fellow man; while it is the emotive and heartfelt “Redemption”, track 2, that is the highlight for me.
With a light electric guitar riff to start off this fast-paced track, Paul relays that ‘…everybody’s looking for it, everybody’s searching for it, every holy scripture, every moving picture and the songs on the radio, everybody’s digging for it, scratching at the surface for it, longing for a vision, kings and politicians and the dreams of the workers below…’ Everyone longs to be redeemed, even if they may not necessarily be ‘religious’, or even know what it means to be saved from sin. Everyone wants to be loved and to love, to be accepted into a space where questions and dialogue is delivered to fellow man without judgement and condemnation. Redemption is something we all crave, knowing that whatever we do or say, doesn’t necessarily mean that we are too far-gone from a brand new start. Kudos to Paul for presenting such a powerful song, one that’ll hopefully bring discussion and hopeful encouragement to many as the years go by!
Three years, two new EPs, and a further 7 new tracks later (and 1 reimagining of a recent recorded song), Paul’s latest effort, while not necessarily on par with Recalculating EP 2, is still on par with Recalculating EP 1 as an EP that is mature, both lyrically and musically. It is by his credentials of the Paul Colman Trio, his solo career and a stint in the Newsboys alone that makes his music a must-have for anyone who loves Paul’s previous roles (Newsboys, PC3), or those who love acoustic pop with a spiritual message. It is the ambiguity in the messages that I’m sure will work well for Paul and his music. From songs like “Run From Love” that speaks about us not running from the things that heal us the most, and the poignant and comforting “Redemption” to the confronting “Dirty Little Friend”; this collection by Paul will continue to propel him to new heights in the years to come. Here’s hoping that Paul’s full length album in April will be just as lyrically poignant as these three EP’s put together. Well done Paul for such an honest, real, raw and heartfelt EP. Can’t wait til the full length album in April 2016!
3 songs to listen to: Redemption, Run from Love, Whoeveryouare
RIYL: Newsboys, Paul Colman Trio, Phil Joel, Grant Norsworthy