Fair Trade Services
Release Date: August 13th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Jesus Happened
- Joy Comes in the Morning
- Jesus Wrote Me a Letter
- All the Way Home
One of the newest signees to Fair Trade Services, home of artists like The Afters, Colton Dixon, Skillet, MercyMe, Phil Wickham, Micah Tyler, Laura Story, Hope Darst and Sara Groves; Baylor Wilson’s story of how she came to create music, let alone her newest radio single, ‘Jesus Happened’, is someone of a God-moment, and only one that can be explored not necessarily by me, but through her website and her podcast (The Jesus Happened Podcast), as well as my brother’s recent review of Baylor’s song ‘Jesus Happened’. All that aside, Baylor’s rise from being a Survivor contestant, to being a country artist, and then now someone signed to Fair Trade Services and now delivering CCM, is nothing short of a miracle, and God’s providence on Baylor’s life as a whole. An artist that has a joyfulness and passion that is unique, compelling, and infectious (you can totally tell that Baylor is genuinely happy and full of joy through her podcasts!), Baylor’s introduction into the foray of Christian music is a breath of fresh air, in an industry, genre and sector of music that seems to be a little bit tired for its own good. CCM has been around for ages, and even now, it can seem as though some artists are much more inventive, unique, compelling, and heartfelt than others…it’s just how it is. Baylor’s first EP release under the banner of Fair Trade, is what CCM has needed- a good, solid pop artist that has a worshipful slant, and an even more compelling story to go along with it. Never have I seen a powerful emotive female artist (since breakout stars Lauren Daigle and Riley Clemmons), as Baylor’s set of 4 songs have really stated that CCM can still be emotive, emotional, challenging, and artistically good. Baylor’s passionate vocal display, and her upbeat anthems, is what has made me listen to this EP 2-3 times over, an artist that has become a standout in 2021 thus far; and will hopefully be recognised and honoured as possibly being a new artist at the 2022 Dove Awards next year. With ‘Jesus Happened’ anchoring not only Baylor’s EP, but anchoring the message behind her podcast as well, this is an artist that is certain to be enjoyed if you love similar female pop artists like Riley Clemmons, Tasha Layton or Britt Nicole.
Released as a single in January 2021, ‘Jesus Happened’ is the first single from Baylor; and is the premise of not only her EP as a whole, but also her podcast The Jesus Happened Podcast as well. It’s the song that has become a way of Baylor herself sharing her own testimony of coming to Christ, and how she thought for years upon years, that she was a Christian, but then had a powerful encounter with Jesus, that she knew in hindsight that all the time that she thought she was a Christian, she wasn’t. Having a born-again experience a few years ago, Baylor goes in-depth about her transformation in her podcast, and ‘Jesus Happened’ the song is the result of such a dramatic change in her life. Standing at just over 3 minutes, this short-but emotionally charged track is one that reminds us all, that it is not by our own doing that we are saved, but rather, Jesus happened and nothing else. He is the one that can transform such a heart- we can’t reconcile ourselves to God even if we wanted to. Jesus came to live the perfect life we couldn’t live, dying the death that should’ve been ours to pay, and then rising again after 3 days, conquering death itself, taking and absolving our sin, and allowing a bridge from us to God so that we can come to Him without blame and fault. ‘Jesus Happened’ is a great reminder for us that it is and always will be only Jesus, not Jesus + ______. Baylor’s new song is catchy, but it’s the simple words of the phrase ‘Jesus happened’ that gives us all a comfort in knowing that we don’t have to do anything to save ourselves (we can’t, anyway!). Jesus did everything for us, and that in and of itself, deserves such an anthem of declaration and praise like ‘Jesus Happened’.
‘…in 2017, a year after I graduated college, a friend invited me to a worship service at, of all things, an auto body car shop. Having grown up in church, I was happy to tag along. When I walked into the car shop, people were worshipping and singing. It was the first time I felt free to worship. I felt God’s tangible presence fall over me for the first time. I was weeping and weeping, realizing I didn’t want to live the way I was living anymore. I thought I was living the dream from what I knew to that point in my life. But I was wrong. All I knew was that I didn’t want to fill my life with things like partying, drinking, and dating the wrong people anymore. At the worship service, I felt profound peace. Later, I found out it was because I met the King of kings. I hadn’t sought out an encounter with God. I hadn’t considered my friend’s life was going down the wrong path. But, after that life-altering worship service, I could concentrate on little else but her newfound love for Jesus. I’d have co-writing sessions with country songwriters, and I’d be testifying to these people who used to be worship leaders. They didn’t know what to think. But, my mind had been renewed. I’d had supernatural brain surgery. God was all I wanted to talk about…“Jesus Happened” is my story of meeting Jesus and being changed from the inside out. Every part of my life’s been changed; I’m a country artist who got saved. I sing sanctified country music. After my encounter with Jesus, people would see me and say, ‘What happened to you?’ I figured out the easiest way to explain it was to say that Jesus happened. I’m about four years into my journey with Christ as my savior. And I know He’s been walking with me all the time. But it was the church event at the auto body shop when I woke up to the reality of Him as my savior. I hope my song is an invitation for people to come to know the Gospel. There’s an assumption from people of my generation that if you give up your life for Jesus you’ll sit in a dark room and read your Bible all the time and stop having fun. Something I pray that I live out forever until I get to heaven is the joy of my salvation. Before I went into that worship service, I loved my life even though I hadn’t tasted true joy or true peace. I was a happy girl my whole life, even in trauma, and my parents getting divorced. I was raised by a single mom who was always a positive person. So, it’s in my nature to make the most of my situation. This world is a dark place. And I was a girl who believed I was a Christian. But I was missing out on a personal relationship with Jesus. I needed to be born again. When you experience the presence of God, you realize that the world isn’t attractive anymore. You know that it doesn’t compare to the peace and joy of living in relationship with Jesus. All things have become new…’
I can even stop this ‘review’ here, and with my own analysis of ‘Jesus Happened’, and the quote above, it would be enough, to not only check out ‘Jesus Happened’ the song, but the whole EP as well. And while ‘Jesus Happened’ is the backbone behind this whole project by Baylor, dare I say that there are some other songs on the EP that are more energetic and emotive? ‘Joy Comes in the Morning’, the title track on the EP, has a ‘Rend Collective’-esque musical atmosphere, as Baylor trades the 3 minute anthem for a 3 minute joyous party song, as she delivers the message of joy coming at the dawn, even after a night of difficulties and trials, by the time the new day dawns, we have to know that joy comes with every new sunrise- a chance for us all to start again, to turn the page on a new day, with new opportunities presented for us to right wrongs that we need to, or just days for us to reflect and contemplate on, while still being reminded that with each passing day, comes new ways for us to praise the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness over the ages. Weeping and sorrow may last for the night, but with every day, comes joy. Baylor also introduces us to ‘Jesus Wrote Me a Letter’, an acoustically driven song about the ‘letter’ that Jesus wrote to us- a metaphorical way of introducing us to the Bible through such a song as this. ‘Jesus Wrote Me a Letter’ is a song that reminds us all that even when times can be hard and difficult, his ‘letter’ is for us to be encouraged- the Bible shows us all that even the people in them (Moses, Joseph, Jacob, Ruth, Job, Jonah, David, Solomon), were all ordinary Joe’s who lived lives of imperfection and trials, even though the Lord chose a lot of these people to become spokemen of God for the people of the day. The Bible is full of people who were flawed, used by God to undertake extraordinary things, and ‘Jesus Wrote Me A Letter’ is a way for us to feel not completely removed from the people that are described in the bible, that we can relate to them in ways that maybe we couldn’t have known. Sometimes we think that the Bible and the stories in them are too far from what we can be dealing with right now, but more often than not, Bible stories are what remind us all that we are not alone in our own thoughts and feelings, that the men and women of the Bible thought and felt things that could’ve been alienating as well. The EP then ends with ‘All the Way Home’, a worshipful song about declaring allegiance to Jesus, about following Him all the way home, and being reminded that this is Baylor’s story- no one can shake that from her. Her story carries weight, and as depicted in all these four songs, is such a story that needs to be heard by people. What Baylor has shared in press releases and her podcast is nothing short of miraculous, and a testament to God’s faithfulness and His pursuing of us all, even if we believe we know better and feel as though we’re seemingly comfortable where we are.
Joy Comes In the Morning is one of my favourite EP’s of the year, alongside others like Guess Who’s Singing: The Soundtrack (Cimorelli), My Jesus (Anne Wilson), Good, Good Life EP (Human Nature), Work of Art & A Father & Two Sons (Mike Donehey). An EP that exceeded any and all expectations that I had about this album (actually, I didn’t really have any expectations for this EP, because prior to today, I only heard ‘Jesus Happened’ a couple of times through), Baylor’s enthusiasm and passion is just as infectious as it is needed in a world were exuding joy is something people should be craving in a world that is lacking it right now. And maybe, just maybe, Joy Comes in the Morning is the answer…at least to me, the EP could be. These four songs are poignant and heartfelt, and a treasure to hear if you’re a fan of CCM artists like Tasha Layton, Britt Nicole and Riley Clemmons, or even mainstream artists like Selena Gomez or Jess Glynne. An artist that’ll hopefully be around for years and years to come, this is a perfect start to a hopefully long music career from an artist whose life can testify the fact of the very words, that lives can change, and it’s all because of the simple (and equally profound) two words- Jesus Happened. Well done Baylor for such a compelling EP. Praying that the EP continues to impact and influence, in the upcoming weeks and months ahead.
2 songs to listen to: Joy Comes in the Morning, All The Way Home
RIYL: Britt Nicole, I AM THEY, Tasha Layton, Sidewalk Prophets, Jess Glynne