Fair Trade Services
Release Date: September 18th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Wake Up Sleeper
- Rest For Your Soul
- Perfect Love
- Jesus Can
- Ooh Child
- Wake Up Sleeper (Piano Version)
Over the past few of years, I’ve been surprised and shocked in a good way by a lot of things. And one of the things I was shocked greatly by (and this wasn’t in a bad way- not by any means!), was this: that if you listen to Austin French’s debut single “Freedom Hymn”, or any of his other singles such as “Why God”, “Born Again”, “Good Feeling” or “Wide Open”, you probably wouldn’t have believed that he was only 24 years old at the time of his 2018 album releasing. Now I don’t know exactly what I was doing when I was 24 years old, but it certainly wasn’t being in the spotlight and having a music career. So just think about that. While many of us were just figuring out what to do with life, Austin has had this surreal life for the past few years- one that I’m sure he didn’t even plan or envision for himself. Therefore I’m also sure that you would probably think that someone that young writing music this profound and heartfelt, as evidenced from many tracks on Austin’s debut album Wide Open; is very rare in the music industry, in any genre. I’d say you’d be right- but Austin’s journey isn’t a normal journey. In fact, God has had His hand on Austin for a while now, and the plans He has for him are coming more into fruition than ever before.
Now at 26 years old, Austin, together with his wife Joscelyn, is a full-time worship leader and worship pastor at The Avenue Church in Delray Beach Florida, where around 80 percent of the members were recovering addicts. Austin also had his plate full when he became father to two young boys within months of each other. These big impacting moments of his life formed the basis of his inspiration for a few melodies on Wide Open, while now this year we are presented with the follow up project from Austin- a compact 6 song EP titled Wake Up Sleeper. The world being in such an uncertain time right now due to COVID-19, the world is yearning for inspirational and uplifting music that can encourage and help us make it through the day- and Austin has certainly delivered in terms of catchiness and accessibility here!
The title track opens up proceedings, and the song is lyrically quite similar to Cory Asbury’s “The Father’s House”. With Austin relaying to us that the notion of guilt and shame and everything not associated with Christ, is actually in fact dead and unwelcome whenever we are in the presence of Jesus (which is in fact always!); Austin fervently reminds us of the ever-true fact that Jesus is the one we can cling to whenever we need a helping hand, and whenever we are in times of trouble. As Jesus emphatically relays to us his promise of always being beside us, Austin challenges those of us living deep in the sin that we’re already free from, to ‘…rise up and come out of that grave, rise up in that amazing grace, oh sleeper, won’t you come awake? Come awake…’; and though this song musically is very cliché, with musical elements borrowed from Sanctus Real’s “Confidence”, The Afters’ “Fear No More” and Cory’s “The Father’s House”; “Wake Up Sleeper” nonetheless is needed in a time where we all can easily be down and uninspired and unmotivated. The EP then ends with a re-recording of “Wake Up Sleeper”, this time a piano version- and this actually strengthens my appreciation and love for the song.
The rest of the EP is filled with encouragement after encouragement, and inspiration after inspiration. The laid back piano led mid-tempo ballad “Rest For Your Soul” emphatically sings from God’s perspective, and reminds us to be still and rest in God’s presence, and that God will provide our every need (reminding me of Matthew 11:28-30); while EP standout “Perfect Love” is a potential radio single, as Austin powerfully recounts the gospel message and reiterates that we are indeed loved by an everlasting Perfect Love. Co-written with Matthew West, “Perfect Love” is a track certain to be on rotation in radio in the near or far future. “Jesus Can”, another radio friendly 3 minute tune cowritten with Matthew West, is another compelling and solid track that basically highlights the notion that Jesus can and will do and accomplish everything that we can’t (although I would very much prefer this song be sung by Matthew… as I’m certain it’ll just fit! Sorry Austin!); while the EP closer is the gospel inspired “Ooh Child”, a cover from the 70’s Chicago soul family group The Five Stairsteps, similar in theme to “Don’t You Worry Child” from Swedish House Mafia.
Becoming a star through the ABC reality TV show Rising Star, Austin French is still a new-ish artist to keep an eye out for. With Wake Up Sleeper EP becoming a favourite of mine for the entire year thus far; this new EP is sure to take the world by storm and impact the lives and hearts of many. So what are you guys waiting for? Check out “Wake Up Sleeper”, “Perfect Love”, “Jesus Can” and others…and marvel at the wonder of Austin’s heart for Jesus and passion for worship!
3 songs to listen to: Wake Up Sleeper, Perfect Love, Jesus Can
RIYL: Finding Favour, Danny Gokey, 33 Miles, Matthew West, Casting Crowns, MercyMe, Building 429, Unspoken