Made To Thrive Records
Release Date: June 24th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- A Dream
- Sailor and the Southern Girl
- He Knows My Name
Releasing her first EP on Made To Thrive Records in April, Beth Hazel Farris is back with her second batch of 4 songs, aptly titled EP No. 2. One of this year’s independent artists to look out for, I reviewed her album a month and a half ago, with applaud and praise to give her. This mini-album is no different. Recording a lyrically relevant album the first time around, with though provoking topics and themes interwoven throughout; the new songs have so much to be gained lyrically and thematically; as we are met with musical influences including country, folk, and bluegrass; and a humble artist who is not afraid to be open and honest. Once again trying to bridge the gap between Christian and mainstream music, Beth’s hope to deliver songs with a clear and positive message, one of comfort, and reaching many audiences, is truly admirable.
From the first banjo pluck of “Dream”, I knew that EP No. 2 would be special. Driven by strings, keys and country genre themed instruments, Beth dives head on immediately tacking some relevant issues, and sings earnestly about a couple of young people reminiscent of the parable of the Lost Son. In the verses the young people go off in search for meaning and purpose, trying to find it in their personal dreams and hopes for the future, yet Beth reminds us gently in the chorus that young people need guidance and dreams bigger than themselves, then the world can easily tempt and sway them into believing anything, which may not be healthy. Beth passionately cries out ‘…the only one who can give her/him purpose is the One who made her/him…’, yet she also moves on to make a comment about society that we are wrapped up in our own lives to notice the slow demise of our younger generation to the world; and that we should instead look at our children through God’s eyes. Though these bold lyrics may not resonate with everyone, and may seem a bit uncomfortable, I commend her for taking a risk and singing what she actually feels, instead of what she expects others want her to sing. Well done Beth for a moving and inspiring opener that gives us impetus to change our ways.
While the subdued acoustic guitar driven “Sailor and the Southern Girl” is a relationship style melody, that vividly paints a picture of two people in love, and intricately describes that love to be true and pure; it nevertheless reminds us of a love that we ought to strive for with Jesus. We ought to be so in love with Jesus that nothing should tear us and Him apart, and in my opinion, if it takes a mainstream love song for us to figure out the depth, height, and width of God’s love; then I’m ok with that. I know it bothers some people, but Beth’s transparent and humble lullaby like tune has dispelled doubts if there was any- her storytelling is quite unique.
The remaining two songs are “Invincible” and “He Knows My Name”. Driven by keys and acoustic guitar, and with Beth singing exuberantly in two very different tempos (faster for the verses, and slower for the chorus (which sometimes can be slightly distracting), “Invincible” is where Beth reveals herself fully- her faults and fears as well as the promises God has told her time and time again. The humbling and moving chorus that lets us know that ‘…I am invincible, my strength is in You alone, and just like sweet wine I am crushed by Your plans divine…no power on earth can break me no, Your peace passes all I see, Your joy is made whole in me…’ is full of promises that God speaks over us, and this type of Scripture in Song has me loving Beth’s music for her unwavering faith in Jesus Christ. My favourite song on the EP is the final song “He Knows My Name” (no not the Francesca Battistelli single!). Again a story song, this upbeat guitar led melody tells the story from Zacchaeus’s point of view, the ‘sinner turned follower’ of Jesus, who tried to glimpse Jesus on a tree, yet Jesus ate lunch with him after he called him by name. Not one of the well-known stories from the Bible, Beth has chosen a rare treasure to describe, and shows us that we’re never too far gone for God to accept and love us. Jesus will go to the ends of the earth is we are lost, and that thought is very comforting. Well done Beth for an encouraging way to end the album, which is certain to be enjoyed by lovers of folk and acoustic music, and those who want to listen to quiet, reflective music that glorifies God.
Beth Hazel Farris’s second EP carries on from the first, and is definitely one of this year’s highlights in terms of EP’s. Relatable and honest, emotional and real, inspiring and comforting; there’s plenty of positive emotions that arise from these 4 tracks. If you haven’t listened to her album, I suggest that you do right now- this, as well as EP No. 1, are in my top EP’s of 2014. Well done Beth for a challenging and musically refreshing mini-album; one that is sure to capture people’s attention, drawing them to Jesus!
3 songs to listen to: Dream, Invincible, He Knows My Name
RIYL: Ellie Holcomb, Audrey Assad, Sara Groves, Casting Crowns, All Sons and Daughters