Release Date: February 3rd 2015
Reviewed by Jonathan Andre
- Wake Us Up
- Praise Him
- A Love Like Yours
- Meet Me
- All That He Says I Am
- Keep Me In
- You Alone Are God
- In You There’s Hope
- Hold Me Close
- Give Us Your Heart
- Come Thou Fount
Releasing his first solo studio worship album Anthem Song in 2012, Aaron Gillespie is now back with his second studio album, Grace Through the Wandering, and while it can be said that The Almost and Underoath frontman has delivered an album that can seemingly fly under the radar of anyone who may not be interested or even looking for a rock/worship album to listen to (especially if many worship music enthusiasts will probably listen to artists like Bethel or Chris Tomlin ahead of Aaron), we nevertheless hear a collection of 11 songs that are high production-wise, and also reminiscent of a raw worship song, similar to that of Kutless and Crowder, with the energy of Lifehouse. With songs like Hillsong’s “Praise Him” and Gateway Worship’s “All He Says I Am”, alongside reimagined hymn “Come Thou Fount” to give us a sense of familiarity towards the album, Grace Through the Wandering encourages us all to pursue grace at all times, even if it is during the wilderness years we so often experience at one time or another. An album not to be missed if you are a worship music fan, alongside being a fan of Underoath and/or The Almost, Aaron’s music is passionate, heartfelt and enthusiastic, and one to be noticed in February 2015!
Originally recorded by Hillsong Worship and made famous by The Royal Royal and even Audio Adrenaline in some concerts, “Praise Him” is a song that encourages us to declare God’s worth as we see His beauty in the everyday lives we lead and live. With powerful guitars and an emotive response by Aaron, we are shown one of the most enjoyable and honest worship songs written within the last few years. While Aaron’s version isn’t necessarily as poignant as either Hillsong or The Royal Royal’s versions; what Aaron brings in this unique rendition is heart and enthusiasm, and plenty of it.
With an energetic drum beat that captures listeners to show that worship and rock can collide successfully and fuse together nicely to bring appeal to listeners of worship, rock or both; Aaron continues with familiarity with “All He Says I Am”, a single originally written by Gateway Worship and now currently made famous by independent artist Kelsi Craig. A song about what God says we are compared to what we constantly think we are in light of how we live on a daily basis; Aaron points out that ‘…I am all He says I am, and He says I am His own…’ While the song finished as abruptly as it started (3 minutes 15 seconds is too short for a powerful song like this), the instrumentation and aesthetics that brings together acoustics, electric guitars, Aaron’s distinct voice, string instruments and bongos; brings forth a song that, like “Praise Him”, stands out on Grace Through the Wandering!
The opening track “Wake Us Up” begins with a guitar groove and encourages us all to wake up from all the lies we have believed and to focus our energy on God and His promises, knowing that ‘…you are not dead yet…’ (and a great pre-cursor to the most popular and well-known song on the album); while “A Love Like Yours” brings together light keyboards and a chilled light atmosphere together with a theme of searching but never finding a love so deep, wide, unbelievable and unimaginable as Christ’s. With southern-style guitar strums and a rhythmic drum looping beats, “Meet Me” leads Aaron to cry out to God to ‘…meet me right here, I just need You right here, as I am…’, and together with the layered instruments, the song becomes one of my favourites, and a standout amongst both of Aaron’s songs from Grace Through the Wandering and Anthem Song.
Mellower than any other track on the album, “Keep Me In” utilises ethereal vocal effects, electronic keyboards and a slow tempo to bring the idea of us being kept in Jesus’s arms regardless of the circumstance. Further to this unique style, “Hold Me Close” continues to bring the mellowness to the album as Aaron uses electronic vocal distortion to bring a distinctness to this powerful, poignant and profilic song, one that is a yearning prayer as we ask God to hold us close, regardless of how we may act towards Him during a certain particular time.
“You Alone are God”, similar in theme to that of Hillsong (way back in 2006), invites us all to hear something unique and fresh as acoustics and a swaying beat accentuate Aaron’s emotive vocals and a theme that Christ alone is God and that we have the freedom to know and believe that without any expectation of how our lives will turn out on a particular day. Organic instruments continue in “In You There’s Hope” as Aaron sets out to impart the message of hope on our hearts, yet it is the two album enders, “Give Us Your Heart” and “Come Thou Fount” that impress me as much as songs like “Praise Him” and “All He Says I Am”.
With a piano the primary instrument on the second-to-last track, Aaron gives us a performance that reminds me of something out of an album from The City Harmonic (and probably would’ve fit quite well on Heart as well), and “Come Thou Fount” is a unique, stripped down, and enjoyable rendition of one of the most underrated hymns of all time (even altering the verse melodies and moulding the song into a country-style anthem to create a uniqueness and hopefully bring in more listeners for both the album and Aaron in general).
Aaron’s second worship album follows in structure, theme and style when comparing it to Anthem Song, and while I myself probably wouldn’t have listened to Grace Through the Wandering if it wasn’t for a little encouragement to (I’m not necessarily a big huge fan of Aaron’s music, but I thought I’d give his new album a listen), I enjoyed this album much more than I thought I would’ve. While not as radio friendly as an album like I Am They, No Turning Back (Brandon Heath) or I Will Follow (Jeremy Camp), what Aaron has created is something not to be missed by Underoath fans, The Almost fans, worship music fans or even fans of all three. With powerful songs like “Praise Him”, “Give Us Your Heart”, “Meet Me” and “Hold Me Close”; this is a perfect gift for anyone who likes to listen to something unique and out of the ordinary when you compare this album to tons of others that focus more on radio marketability than anything else. Well done Aaron for such an inspired album. Can’t wait for album #3 whenever it arises!
3 songs to listen to: Meet Me, Praise Him, Give Us Your Heart
RIYL: The Almost, Sanctus Real, Kutless, Skillet