Release Date: April 22nd 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Human Nature
- Minute By Minute
- This Changes Everything
- That’s Enough
- See Me Through It
- Another Song About Love
- He Is Not Worried
- Enough Already
- Human Nature (Acoustic)
One of the most inspirational, impacting, honest, emotional, and vulnerable artists I’ve heard within the last decade, has to be Brandon Heath. Brandon’s previous singles have all resonated with me, and encouraged me greatly in my walk with Jesus. From songs like “Give Me Your Eyes”, “Leaving Eden”, “Your Love”, “SOS”, and “I’m Not Who I Was”, to “Jesus In Disguise”, “Love Does”, “Whole Heart”, “Got The Love” and “Behold Our God”; Brandon’s previous album was released in 2017. Faith Hope Love Repeat was a project that I loved from start to finish- and so I thought ‘Brandon’s going to wow us after 5 years in the wilderness!’. I mean, it’s common knowledge to assume a great project is coming, or maybe even a revolutionary project after many, many years away from the spotlight. Artists like Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna have all been teasing new music- and the general public have been waiting for something amazing from these artists. For me personally, I can’t wait to hear a brand-new album from Britt Nicole (it’s been 6 years and counting!), as well as a studio full-length album from Meredith Andrews. Sometimes anticipation is worth it- Nichole Nordeman’s The Unmaking EP and the 2017 full length album Every Mile Mattered proved to us all that it doesn’t matter how long the wait is. A good album will surface and us listeners will be reminded why we love a particular artist. And so- the bar was set high for Brandon. And for a minute, I thought that a masterpiece was brewing. Because in 2020, his single “Faces On A Train” (which I thought was going to be present on an album, but now I know is a standalone single!), lyrically harkens back to Brandon’s second album, and specifically his smash hit “Give Me Your Eyes”. Not your most typical CCM pop sounding song, Brandon tried his hand at the big band jazz genre; as well as including brass instruments like saxophones and trumpets in the track for diversity and variety. Yet Brandon never wavered in his message of hope and peace in the midst of the frailties of the human condition, as he eloquently sang about wanting to and longing to know deeply the people that he sees on the train every day. Possibly a metaphor for wanting to know the people he sees every day in his neighbourhood; this timely song reminds us of how we all need to stay connected during COVID-19, and about how we all need human interaction around us to live and survive.
However, since that underrated 2020 single, Brandon is back on a new label. Centricity Music is the home of Brandon’s music now, and Enough Already released this past week. And let me tell you… the result is quite ordinary to say the least. This album (or EP? It’s 8 tracks, with an acoustic track which to me adds nothing much to the original melody!), is a project that I’m sure has a lot of heart, passion, soul, and fire. Brandon is uber-enthusiastic for Jesus, and I commend him for creating a project that he fully believes in. However, Enough Already feels like the music and the lyrics have been ’done already’. The lead single “Human Nature” opens with proceedings, and is solid and inspiring melody, as Brandon eloquently and vibrantly sings about Jesus meeting us where we’re at, and about the fact that we’re all bound to each other and bound to God on a soul and spiritual level. It’s a song that celebrates our humanity and celebrates our sonship and daughtership in Christ Jesus; and though it’s noble and admirable, Brandon covers old ground here, as this concept is delivered so much more effectively in “Human Condition” (Unspoken) and “Human” (Natalie Grant). This melody isn’t bad- but it isn’t ground-breaking nor revolutionary, and certainly not worth me anticipating for the past five years. “Human Nature” is fine, but doesn’t hold a candle to Brandon’s previous hits like “Give Me Your Eyes”, “Your Love”, “Jesus In Disguise” and “Love Does” to name a few.
The rest of this project inspires and encourages, yet still leaves me wanting more at the end of it. “Minute By Minute”, a rare bright spark in an album of musical monotony, reminds us that we all need to learn to love each other despite our differences, and live each moment of life minute to minute in order to fully live life as how Jesus would’ve wanted us to live it. A song that eloquently and passionately relays that we can, are encouraged to, and often should agree to disagree on secondary issues that aren’t doctrinal or salvation issues; Brandon also powerfully cries out that we shouldn’t be so dogmatic in whatever we believe, and that ‘…I wasn’t made for the weight of the past, I’m getting crushed by the ways of the future, nobody knows what’s not gonna last, but I can hold on just a little bit looser…’– a melody thematically similar to Matthew West’s “The Beautiful Things We Miss”. “This Changes Everything” unfortunately is just plain lazy song-writing (I mean, it’s basically “This Could Change Everything” from Francesca Battistelli part 2, isn’t it?); while “That’s Enough”, a moving and emotional piano ballad, is a melody that thematically caters to the lowest common denominator. A song that will succeed on a radio station like K-Love, “That’s Enough” has Brandon encouraging people with doubts and questions, by spewing out platitudes that in my mind would do little to comfort the broken hearted- ‘…I don’t know your situation, what kind of story you’re in, if you’re high on that mountain or down in the valley again, you might be holding your baby, you might be holding a drink, you might be holding a secret that’s getting harder to keep, but you are here, you are loved, God is good, and that’s enough, and I am here, I am loved, God is good, and that’s enough…’… I mean, sure this song is true and everything- but isn’t it oversimplified, don’t you reckon? When you’re at the end of your rope, do you want someone singing to you ‘you are here, God is good, you are loved and that’s enough’? I didn’t think so!
“See Me Through It”, a 2-and-a-half-minute gospel soul jam, is noble in concept. But in execution, Brandon’s attempt falls flat- and this song might have worked for singers proficient in blue-eyed soul. Like Gavin DeGraw or Unspoken or Jimmy Needham. Or even someone gospel like Kirk Franklin… on Enough Already, this song feels out of place, even if the intentions of this concept of God seeing us through the absolute worst situation because He has promised us in the past, is still a concept worth hearing again and again. “Another Song About Love” is probably meant to be satirical and witty and fun, but this EDM tune with plenty of autotune, isn’t a song that resonated with me. Though it covertly alludes to God’s love, other songs about the eternal love of God resonated with me more, like “What A Friend” and “God’s Romance”- both from Delirious? “He Is Not Worried”, a stirring, emotional and fervent piano ballad, invites us to place our trust firmly in Jesus- our Father and our Saviour; because when He isn’t worried, then we shouldn’t be either. Enough Already then ends with the title track. The heartbeat of the album, Brandon sings out that he is loved by God and he is enough. It’s a song concept that is tried and true, but again, songs like “You Are Loved” (Rebecca St. James), “Enough” (Chris Tomlin) and “You Are Loved” (Stars Go Dim) are superior lyrically in every way.
As Brandon Heath continues to remind us through his storytelling and his strong song writing about various relatable topics, I’ve often found that Brandon’s lyrics are similar in style at times to Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, and Nichole Nordeman. This has challenged me, as Brandon’s musically varied style is ever evolving; however, in this case, Enough Already came and went in an unrecognisable and indistinctive blur. An album that should have been longer in number of tracks, Brandon’s heart still is in the right place- firmly rooted in Jesus. But Enough Already doesn’t cater to new listeners. Fans of Brandon’s previous material may resonate with this. However, I firmly do not, and I’d much rather listen to Leaving Eden or What If We or Blue Mountain. If you love this release though- have at it. There are worst things to listen to than a mediocre Brandon Heath record. But I left wanting more- considering it’s been five years. I suspect many of you feel the same as me as well. And so Brandon, I can’t wait to hear what’s next for you in the future. Just don’t expect me to spin this release that frequently in the near future.
3 songs to listen to: Human Nature, Minute By Minute, He Is Not Worried
RIYL: Josh Wilson, Matthew West, Sidewalk Prophets, Big Daddy Weave