Release Date: June 3rd 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Saved My Life (with R3HAB)
- Lease On Life
- Love Myself
- Damn It Feels Good To Be Me
Have I found the EP of the year? Andy Grammar isn’t an artist that I normally listen to (I found out a while back that he’s a member of the Bahai faith… and that turned me off his music for a while), but as this year in particular has been the year that I have consciously decided to listen more to music that I wouldn’t normally listen to (not for the sake of it, but because I know that God will speak to me through it, and I don’t want to limit how God moves in music); I’ve been constantly reminded this year that in order to broaden my horizons, and to see what God is saying to me and to the world and about a wide range of relevant topics, I’d have to listen to, enjoy and appreciate a whole other wide variety of music- mainstream included and not just when I’m blogging about. I’ve mentioned before, that in 2021 I had dived deep into listening to artists like Blake Shelton, Olivia Rodrigo, Diane Warren, Camila Cabello, Ashley Cooke, Ben Platt, Dan + Shay, Anne-Marie, Aly & AJ, Meghan Patrick, Jimmie Allen, Bella Taylor Smith and Bebe Rexha; while in 2022, I took the plunge and explored Walker Hayes, Ella Henderson, Ben Rector, Miranda Lambert, Erin Kinsey, Mark Vincent, Tate McRae, Sigrid and even Lady Gaga. I’ve loved, enjoyed and appreciated every one of these releases- they’ve each taught me something profound and inspiring about God and about life in general; however this past week I stumbled onto Andy’s 5 song EP about The Art Of Joy… and because the album title reminded me of Ben Rector’s The Joy Of Music (my favourite album of the year!)… I decided to take a chance on Andy again. Andy’s biggest hit was “Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah)”, while other more relatively sedate hits include “Keep Your Head Up” and “Don’t Give Up On Me”. Still, he’s not that popular at the moment… and so I thought ‘hmm, ok, well I normally gravitate to the weird and the different- so let’s see how this EP goes…’. I had to remove my preconceptions about Andy, and I had to pretend that he wasn’t of the Bahai faith; but with these 5 songs… well, can we just say that they’re God breathed, and Holy Spirit filled?
While we’re here, life is incredible. When you have a moment to really listen, music reminds you that there’s so much more in front of you than there is behind you. In my opinion, to be able to give somebody this reminder in the middle of the day is wizardry. Music will bring back something you already knew about yourself or an experience of what it means to be human. That’s my favorite part of being an artist and what makes me jump out of bed to write in the morning.
I realize that I’m more intoxicated by art. I’m enjoying the process more because it keeps me writing and sharing what I feel. It’s so freaking fun. My career is less about writing and more on focusing on community. I’m grateful for every moment that I have and take advantage of making each moment count. A great musician is like a spiritual chiropractor, and it hits you in all the right places.
Do you need to know everything about an artist before you listen to an album of theirs for the first time? Some would say yes, but I reckon it doesn’t really matter. Of course, you’d love to have the same values and core beliefs of who you are listening to, but if that artist moves you in your walk of life, I reckon having someone challenging you is equally as impacting and hard-hitting as someone agreeing with you. In the case of Andy Grammar and his latest EP; he probes and probes and asks question after question. Andy also inspires and provides healing and comfort as well, as well as delivering to us happy and joyous material; and as a listener I can’t help but be touched and blessed by these anthems, no matter how I relate to the artist or not. Sure, you’d love it if your enjoyment of the songs is determined by how the artist acts and what they believe outside of the spotlight… but sometimes enjoying a song despite the artist’s beliefs, is probably more remarkable as well. “Saved My Life”, a powerful, honest, and vulnerable song about the people in our lives who just show up for us when we need them the most; Andy dedicates this track to all of the friends and family in our lives who are just there for us all through thick and thin. A tear-jerker for sure; this melody encourages us to tell the important people in our lives how much they mean to us, while Andy expresses his thankfulness and gratitude, like we all should, to the people in our lives (and quite possibly God) who keep our heads above water.
The rest of this EP showcases joy, love and happiness, with Andy powerfully giving us all a lifeline and something to listen to that isn’t depressing, and can be used to encourage and inspire us all. “Lease On Life” picks up where “Saved My Life” left, and as Andy confidently and fervently relays that with friends and family, he has a positive and optimistic outlook; we are encouraged by the fact that ‘…like a sunrise on the longest night, like a rescue coming just in time, yeah, you save me when I cannot see the light, like a heartbeat to a lonely drum, when I thought that, that the end had come, you remind me that it’s only just begun…everything’s gonna be alright when I look into your eyes, got a brand new, got a brand new, got a brand new lease on life…’. Similarly, “Love Myself” speaks about having a positive and healthy outlook of life and your own being, with Andy relaying that he needs to learn to love himself without anyone else saying it back to him. “Joy”, similar in theme to for KING & COUNTRY’s song of the same name, speaks about finding an everlasting and unending joy bigger and grander than any of us could ever dream of or comprehend (is Andy indirectly singing about Jesus?); while The Art Of Joy ends with “Damn It Feels Good To Be Me”, the ultra-positive melody that encourages us all to be original, unique, distinctive and exceptional in who we are as people.
What’s kind of interesting about being any sort of an artist in 2022, is that if you just triple down on exactly who you are, you can have a niche that’s bigger than it’s ever been. I think we’re in a niche time period, and I love my niche. When you write songs from pain about still looking for joy in the world, that’s a really cool sweet spot I’ve found that my fans really respond to. I love these storytellers that are able to get all the way into your soul in three minutes. Lauryn Hill threw me for a loop when I started listening to her. John Mayer. Wordsmiths that then also know how to be catchy — that’s kind of my favorite. And then anybody who pulls off happy well. It’s really hard to pull off joyful and uplifting in a way that is still not cheesy.
The tour is called ‘The Art of Joy,’ and I did not see myself writing a bunch of songs about self-worth — that’s not where I was expecting this was going to go. I’m trying to hit you in the soul — that’s what I’m trying to do. And I work really hard at that, and I’ve studied it for a long time. This one, more than ever, is so needed for me. I haven’t (toured) in a really long time. We’ve done little spot dates, but to go out and sing these little truths … and have the crowds sing them back, my heart has missed it so much. The fact that it’s called ‘The Art of Joy’ is right on the money for me at this season of my life. I need to go so badly. I’m so excited to go see everyone.
There truly isn’t anything that I can say further about Andy Grammer’s The Art Of Joy. An EP that is flawless and extremely unique; there will never be another release like this, this year and the next few years as well! It’s taken so long to realise this, but I firmly believe that Andy, despite his beliefs that conflict with mine, is an artist and a songwriter and an entertainer and a storyteller; and we are blessed to have him showcase his talents. An EP that will be on repeat for me for a very long time; you should all listen to this project from start to finish, and just soak it in. And… that’s all. Listen and be amazed! What do you think of this project?
3 songs to listen to: Lease On Life, Love Myself, Joy
RIYL: Gavin DeGraw, Maroon 5, Guy Sebastian, Bruno Mars, Jason Mraz, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Ben Rector