Release Date: June 19th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Work In Progress
- Walk In It
- Action Word
- Beautiful Thing
- Your Love (Words)
- Still Believe
- A Good Day
- When You Know You’re Loved
- I Got You (Alternate Version)
- California (Extended Version)
Everyone has moments in life where we feel isolated and that no one else has experienced what we are going through. I had a couple friends in my life who, during some tough moments, were there for me and chose to take the time to be my ‘brothers keeper.’ This song [and album] speaks deeply into that friendship and our camaraderie… Inspiration is literally everywhere, but the trick is to slow myself down enough to tap into it. One thing that inspires me is humanity itself, hearing stories of strength, perseverance, will, determination, love, faith, and yes, even the stories of failures and struggles move me. Ultimately wherever the listener may be in life, I hope my music can truly brighten their day.
With COVID-19 hanging around for 6 months already, and maybe even longer…the fact remains is that as people we all need to adapt and live life now with more and more restrictions. You know the saying make lemonade out of lemons? Well I reckon that’s never been more prevalent now. Yet when you’re feeling down and flat and uninspired and hopeless like the world is ending… then the social distancing can kill you. Sometimes quite literally. So what do you do so that you can feel semi-normal and feel moments of positivity, happiness and optimism? Well what I normally do in a situation to brighten my day is to listen to music. To listen to maybe the poppiest song ever with maybe the most silly and nonsensical lyrics ever, just so that we can have a smile on our face and all of our worries can wash away, even just for a little bit. And what if you want your music with more meaning lyrically yet still having the same levity music-wise? Well never fear guys, because I have something for you! Or Aaron Bucks has something for you! One of the most recent signees to BEC Recordings, Aaron unveiled his breezy, summer-y, laidback, acoustic style pop album California this past few months. And I’d definitely suggest listening to the project. Just so that you can be transported to California and just so that you can feel relaxed and without a care or worry in the world!
Opening the track list is the introspective yet hopeful and encouraging “Work In Progress”. Though only 2 and a half minutes long, the track packs a punch, as Aaron eloquently and powerfully relays to us that we all are works in progress, and that we aren’t defined by what the world says but by what God says. Similar in theme to Hillsong Worship’s “Who You Say I Am”, “Work In Progress”, though short, is hopeful and encouraging, as Aaron sets things in motion lyrically, and continues to deliver compelling song after compelling song. The acoustic guitar hand clapping and hand clicking “Walk In It” has Aaron channelling Ryan Stevenson vocally (he actually channels Ryan in a lot of songs!) whereby he relays to us his need to give over and surrender his life to God and ‘walk in it’; while the equally breezy and summer-y “Circles” delves into Aaron’s earnest need for God. “Action Word” is next, and is also musically quite mellow, as light electric guitar and acoustic guitar are at the forefront- whereby Aaron delves into the Bible verses of James 2:14-26 and declares the notion that faith isn’t passive, but in fact is an action word. By now we’ve come to know Aaron’s musical style to be not as poppy or intense, but rather moody and poignant and heartfelt…but if this musical style throws you or if you are put off by it- well don’t worry because further on in the track list Aaron experiments musically. And no doubt you will enjoy Aaron’s music regardless of your preference of style… simply because. I reckon that’s the way it is. Aaron will worm our way into our hearts if we want him to or not.
The rest of the album brings forth more and more subdued reflective moments, but also some moments of thankfulness and poppy joy. The acoustic guitar prominent worshipful “Halelu” is a simple song of prayer and honest gratitude, as Aaron declares to God ‘hallelujah’ for everything He’s done; while radio friendly 3 minute tune “Beautiful Thing” relays to us that the way God loves us is indeed a beautiful thing. Catchy and danceable, this track is a personal standout, and a reminder that Aaron is due to be a rising star within the coming weeks, months and years; while the 2 minute hopeful and reassuring “Your Love (Words)” compellingly and vividly describes the depths and the heights of God’s unending love. “Soulfire”, possibly one of the most musically catchiest songs from Aaron, is next, and is perfect for the dance floor, lyrically speaking about having that intense fire for Jesus, and that intense desire to know Him more and more; while “Still Believe” possibly is one of the most musically busy tracks on the album, with Aaron delivering maybe one of the most generic and repetitive songs on the album, as he relays that he still believes in Jesus no matter what the world throws at him.
“A Good Day” could literally be a Ryan Stevenson song (in the best way possible) as Aaron thanks God for today and for it being a good day, as ‘any day I do with You is a good, good day’; while the acoustic guitar is at the forefront on “When You Know You’re Loved” (when is it not in this album?) as Aaron once again wows with his musicianship and his earnest heart for Jesus, while also relaying the truth that once we know we’re loved by God, loved by our Father and Saviour, that’s when we can know that He will take care of everything, and we can indeed rest easy. Lead single “I Got You”, the penultimate song, is definitely the most CCM that Aaron has ever done, as we are presented with the eternal truth that ‘…I got a peace past understanding when my worries overwhelm me, I got a joy down deep in my soul cause you won’t let me go, I know I know I know, I got a lighthouse on the horizon, when my fears like a flood are rising, I got a joy down deep in my soul cuz you won’t let me go, I know I know I know I got You…’; while California ends with the subdued and contemplative title track, where Aaron channels Jason Mraz as an artist, and delves into his love for his roots and his appreciation for people in his corner who will always have his back.
Aaron Bucks isn’t a household name. Yet this former chef-to-be has delivered a rousing and heartfelt debut album. If you’re a fan of pop or rock or CCM, then Aaron’s album won’t be for you. But if you like reflective material still with a ‘poppish’ or acoustic style edge, then California will be an album that you’ll spin many, many times over. Regardless, while we’re all still in quarantine, albums like these are essential, if only to take away our worries for a few minutes at a time. So as we wait for Aaron’s second album, whenever that may be, or while we wait for Aaron to go on tour, let us marvel at the fact that this album is solid, this album touches lives, and this album is sure to get Aaron’s name out there. Well done Aaron, I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you next!
3 songs to listen to: Beautiful Thing, A Good Day, I Got You
RIYL: Michael Buble, Jason Mraz, Ryan Stevenson, Matthew West, Josh Wilson