Release Date: May 20th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Death Be Not Proud
- Death in His Grave
- Lamb of God
- Love is Moving
Since releasing her album Fortunate Fall in 2013 on her own label Fortunate Fall Records, worship artist Audrey Assad has become a household name in the realms of indie worship music, along the same musical styles of artists like Matt Maher, Gungor and All Sons And Daughters. Releasing a myriad of albums and chart-topping songs, like “For The Love of You”, “Sparrow”, “Everything is Yours”, “The House You’re Building” and “You are Good”; Audrey’s soul-piano led worship/pop is arguably something that I’m sure no listener has ever heard within the music industry currently. With Audrey being one of two Catholic CCM/worship musicians (the other being Matt Maher) that I can recall in a Christian music industry that is still dominated by Evangelical Christians and Protestants, Audrey’s music continues to stand out and be an enjoyable source of worship music, often in a sea of musical sameness.
Releasing her newest EP Death Be Not Proud on the heels of her pregnancy, these songs on the album are a reflection of Audrey’s own musings of life, focusing on life, death, resurrection, hope and encouragement. As Audrey reflects on how “…being pregnant, experiencing new life, and beholding several friends go through gutwrenching losses of infants both in the womb and outside the womb, I felt connected to these themes in an entirely deeper and newer way…”, we ourselves are encouraged to reflect on these album themes ourselves, and understand that death indeed ought not to be proud of us, especially if we are in Christ and are pressing on to pursue life to the fullest in all its facets that God calls us towards.
With the EP standing at 5 tracks, there is hardly a low point as Audrey conveys with her hauntingly refreshing voice coupled with her keyboard as she invites us all to partake in soulful moments where she unveils her own need to believe in the fact that death is not proud of us- and God is instead. Clocking it at only 2 minutes 41 seconds, the first track on the album is one in which the whole EP stems from thematically, with Audrey painting us a picture of encouragement and hope. With Audrey declaring that ‘…death be not proud, for your pride has failed…’, we are given comfort that with God, death need not be something that we consciously focus on, knowing that God has conquered that and is now ready to give us life and live abundantly. With reverbing keyboards and light percussion, a focus on the lyrics is born, not for just this song but for the whole album as well. Layered vocals and Audrey’s ethereal vocals are a great comfort, not just for the album but for the whole worship genre in general.
“Death in His Grave”, track 2 and a cover of John Mark McMillan’s famous melody, is given an upbeat treatment with light percussion and acoustics, as Audrey conveys a message of death being defeated through a song that’s probably not as well-known as “How He Loves”, another John Mark McMillan written song (though the Audrey Assad covered melody should be, as its just as emotive and poignant). As said by John Mark McMillan himself, “…it was in the death of Jesus that death itself died. A man named Joseph laid Jesus in his tomb, but it was Jesus who would ultimately put death itself away for evermore…”, and as we reflect on this statement, I’d hope this song will move us all to full comprehend that Jesus did in fact take death away from us- having no such a hold on us than it did before. With an acoustical upbeat musical atmosphere, Audrey’s rendition of this song is one of the most enjoyable renditions of a song since Brandon Heath’s recording of “Jesus, Son of God”.
Throughout the rest of the EP (3 other songs), Audrey continues to bring to the forefront a theme of allowing us to believe and live out the fact that death is no longer a part of ourselves- not today and not tomorrow or even for eternity. “Lamb of God” is a heartfelt 5 minute track that brings us to the knowledge that Christ is the Lamb of God, and presenting us with a platform for us to declare our praises out to him, while “Receive” has a riveting piano riff that starts off the song that allows it to be a vessel for us to receive more of God’s presence between this eerily refreshing moments and Audrey crying out the life-changing words- ‘…to the Father, to the Son and to the Spirit be, blessing, honour, glory, power, might, and majesty…’
But it is the last track on the EP, “Love is Moving”, that has become one of my favourite tracks from Audrey overall. Co-written with Christy Nockels (and also placed on her album Into the Glorious), it is a song with the piano, Audrey’s powerful singing, and a moment of declaration, as this musically simple melody shows us a powerful truth that we can all hear and respond to- that God is alive and moving, living amongst us and stirring His people to a continual longing after Him and His presence. While Audrey’s version of the song is quite different to Christy’s (there’s only one verse that overlaps, and the chorus in Christy’s rendition is uniquely different to Audrey’s), the message is still the same, and as Audrey proclaims the heartfelt lyrics, that ‘…we reach, we reach our hands to Him, to touch, to touch the Healer’s hand, we fall, we fall in worship, our God is with us…’, I can worship alongside her, lifting my hands to receive a love that I know I don’t deserve, but receive it nonetheless because of my identity in Christ Jesus!
Audrey’s 5 track indie EP is just as enjoyable as some of her label material- in fact, Audrey’s independent music shows us a sense of freedom and enjoyability that is much more poignant and resulting in songs that have a much more focus on worship and piano-led music. An EP to purchase if you are fan of Audrey and all of her music, Death Be Not Proud is a standout in May 2014. Even if you aren’t necessarily a fan of CCM, Audrey’s music is still an album to listen to and hopefully enjoy. Embodying a myriad of genres, from CCM, to pop, acoustic, folk and piano-pop, Audrey’s music is as versatile as any music artist, delving into both the CCM and indie scene and her music hopefully someday crossing the religious/secular border that artists gone before her (needtobreathe, Gungor, Switchfoot and Skillet) have done successfully. Well done Audrey for such an inspired and encouraging EP!
3 songs to listen to: Death Be Not Proud, Death in His Grave, Love is Moving
RIYL: John Mark McMillan, Gungor, Matt Maher, Christy Nockels, All Sons and Daughters