Release Date: September 21st 2018
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Head Above Water
“…one night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed, ‘God, please help to keep my head above the water.’ In that moment, the songwriting of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on…” If you were to ask me right now what I reckon the most inspiring song of 2018 is, I’d have to say “Head Above Water” by Avril Lavigne. Hands down. Like by a mile. It doesn’t really matter that I know nothing yet of Avril’s discography. It doesn’t even matter whether Avril’s a Christian or not (not even for my enjoyment of the song!). And it also doesn’t even matter if this song is Avril’s last inspirational song, and the rest of her material she recorded from here on out is back to being mainstream pop like we hear on most radio stations. What matters here and now- and I truly believe this- is that at this moment in time, Avril is able to be real with us, and write something from the heart, a song of desperation, of longing, of coming out of hopelessness and into hope. What matters is that Avril is able to bare her soul and sing about one of the most personal things she’s ever sung about- her health- which brings all of us into the realisation that our life is bigger than the things we do; it’s the relationships we form and the notion that we’re put on this earth for a reason.
How I found out about “Head Above Water” is actually a remarkable story. I was scrolling through my Spotify playlists and her song appeared on my Release Radar and in the playlist ‘New Music Friday Christian’, which I happened to be following. I checked out the song, and the rest is history. I’m a fan. I’m not sure if I’m a fan of Avril’s earlier material (because I haven’t heard any songs before!) however this song has taught me to never judge any artist based on hearsay. Initially prior to me listening to “Head Above Water”, I assumed that maybe Avril’s plight wasn’t real enough or her song not sincere enough because Avril is a mainstream artist and not a Christian artist.
However, what I soon quickly found out was that what Avril was going through- Lyme disease- isn’t something that targets one demographic (Christians or non-Christians)- it targets anyone and plays no favourites. After reading interviews from Avril about what she went through, including being bed ridden for an extended amount of time through the past 5 years that she has been not touring; I’ve come to a greater appreciation for this song. The song that was borne as a result of Avril accepting the fact that she might die. A desperate cry for help to God to ‘…keep my head above water, don’t let me drown, it gets harder, I’ll meet You there at the altar as I fall down to my knees…’; which I’m sure can and will resonate with people of many different faiths- and that’s the beauty of a track like that, and it’s because it’s universal- anyone can listen to this song and feel blessed. I can say that Jesus is moving here, and you may disagree but that’s ok. Led by hard hitting keys and with Avril possessing a determination and passion I haven’t quite heard from any artist in 2018, I can say with confidence that Jesus is inhabiting this track. Even if everyone else, Avril included, doesn’t think so nor believes so; I still believe it. With the melody reminding us that we need God in order for us to survive, Avril’s compelling music video adds an extra layer of depth for the song and increases my enjoyment and my respect for her all the more. Though I have no idea as to what Avril’s new album will be like, I am eagerly anticipating it, and it’s all because of this song.
Maybe this song is just a catalyst for Avril Lavigne to start recording faith-based songs or inspirational songs- after all, she did grow up in the church and one of the first songs she ever wrote was a straight up worship song. But whatever the case, “Head Above Water” needs to be celebrated for what it is- just a great inspirational song that is sure to provide comfort, perspective and hope to any and all who listen. So, as we wait to listen to whatever Avril has in store for us next (will it release in 2019?); let us repeat “Head Above Water” a gazillion times. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
RIYL: Fireflight, Lacey Sturm, LEDGER, Superchick, Plumb, Kelly Clarkson, Delta Goodrem