Release Date: January 22nd 2016
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Loved Me First
- Jesus The Anthem
- From Heaven’s Glory
- One And Only God
Predominately known as the writer of the popular smash hit “The Power Of The Cross”, covered by Natalie Grant in 2010; Shelly E Johnson’s story of how she entered into music is quite profound- having started to write songs as a way of therapy and healing after her father passed away when she was a teenager. Ever since then she has been writing more and more worship songs, resulting in many EP’s, albums, radio singles, tours and changed lives all around the world. Having signed to LifeWay Worship in 2011, Shelly released her debut label EP Power Of The Cross in 2012, unveiled her first full length label release Your Kingdom Come in 2014, and now drops her upcoming new EP Measureless today. With five songs that are lyrically and thematically directed to the church and for corporate worship, Shelly has outdone herself here, with plenty of musical variety and many genres encompassed, as this new EP is filled with worship anthems that will be at home on any Sunday set list at congregational worship. While many may not know of Shelly’s music, it is this EP (as well as the previous album in 2014) in my opinion that will set her music apart from many other worship contemporaries. What makes it even more remarkable is that Shelly isn’t signed to a major label, hence making the crisp and full quality of her music on this release quite important and significant. Sure to be on my rotation in iTunes for a while, and hopefully many others’ music players as well; let’s dive in to see how Shelly’s new melodies have impacted how we worship Jesus nowadays.
Opening the proceedings is the acoustic guitar driven hand clapping “Loved Me First”, where Shelly channels her inner Christy Nockels vocally. Declaring that we can and do love Jesus because it was He who loved us first, it is the chorus that is simple yet impacting to all who listen, with Shelly authoritatively highlighting ‘…o how I love, o how I love, how I love the name of Jesus…’, we are met with a lyrically simple yet comforting and inspiring melody that is the perfect way to open an EP that praises God for His sovereignty and love for us. The electric guitar led anthem “Jesus The Anthem” is next, where Shelly outright proclaims that Jesus is the anthem for our souls and for our very beings to survive and live on, as we are presented with a melody easy for each one of us to sing at church on Sundays. While the midpoint of the EP is the first single, titled “From Heaven’s Glory”, a hymn like mid-tempo worship ballad with a structure and content quite similar to the ever-popular “In Christ Alone”, and hopefully as popular as the aforementioned hymn as well. As Shelly passionately reminds us through song that Jesus’ love and mercy is greater than everything on earth that we could experience, declaring to God ‘…hallelujah, thine the glory, oh how great the love You’ve shown, friend of sinners, gift of mercy, from heaven’s glory, our Saviour’s come…’, I can comfortably say that Shelly has recorded one of her best songs ever, hats off to her and the songwriters!
The penultimate melody of the EP, the piano prominent mid tempo worship ballad “One And Only God”, explores the notion that everything on Earth magnifying God’s beauty, presence and power, is not even nearly enough to fully comprehend and grasp the understanding of everything about our God, our Jesus. I guess that’s why there is forever to spend with Jesus, yet Shelly’s inspiring and clever lyrics highlighting the extent of God’s value and the reason why we worship Him, reminds us why we worship Him equally now compared to in heaven. The soft, contemplative, acoustic guitar led title track “Measureless”, once again a hymn like offering, ends the EP, as Shelly ardently sings out that God’s love is measureless, that ‘…beyond the highest of heights, beneath the depth of the sea, nothing on earth could contain His endless love for me…’. As we praise our Lord and Saviour, giving honour and glory to Him because of everything He’s done for us, let us worship with Shelly, as we marvel at the production of this EP along with the stirring lyrics and impacting themes woven throughout the five tracks.
What can I say about Shelly E Johnson’s EP Measureless that I haven’t mentioned already? This brilliant set of 5 songs fittingly shows us a woman on fire for God, who is willing to change the world through her strong faith. As Shelly gives us hit after hit here (possibly all 5 songs could be sung at some point in many churches around the world?); I find myself in awe of her songwriting and her worship leading skills. A must buy now, or later, I’m sure Shelly will find herself with new fans; no doubt her album will bring with it exposure. In this case exposure is a good thing, and I look forward for Shelly’s stardom as a writer and singer rises and rises, as God’s name is made famous. Well done Shelly for a standout release in the first half of 2016!
3 songs to listen to: Loved Me First, From Heaven’s Glory, One And Only God
RIYL: Natalie Grant, Kari Jobe, Christy Nockels, Meredith Andrews