Release Date: May 13th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Meant For Good (feat. Judah)
- Pharoah (Let My People Go)
- Don’t You Give Up On Me
- Always Holding On
- Hard Year
- So Close (feat. Amanda Cook)
- Fear Is Not My Future (feat. Chandler Moore)
- SAVE ME
- Thank You
In my lifetime, I’ve never experienced more opportunity to cave under the weight of anxiety and depression. I believe it’s important that we are real, honest, and raw about the mental battles we face—that we bring them into the light so God can remind us of who He is and who we are. I believe we need honest songs, but we also need warfare songs to come against those attacks that try and keep us from being everything God wants us to be and from living truly free. Freedom has been purchased, but we need reminders that it is our inheritance and the reality we can live in daily through Him who set us free.
Bethel Music, as a label and as a church, has housed many successful and poignant solo worship artists over the years- both current and former. Brian & Jenn Johnson, Cory Asbury, Amanda Cook, Jonathan & Melissa Helser, Steffany Gretzinger, Kristine DiMarco, Dante Bowe, Emmy Rose, Rebecca St. James, Paul & Hannah McClure, Bethany Wohrle, Kalley Heiligenthal, Josh Baldwin and Jeremy Riddle are the artists that immediately come to my mind (as current and former Bethel artists); and are probably the most popular and well respected. Yet probably the most vibrant and energetic of Bethel’s newest ‘recruits’ would be Brandon Lake. Though not really a household name yet, Brandon’s debut 2020 album House Of Miracles was one of the most vulnerable, honest, emotional and inspiring worship albums for that entire year; and it’s one that in my opinion you all need to listen to at once! Though Bethel themselves have some questionable theology to say the least… but their music can be used by God to inspire us all and to point people to Jesus- Brandon’s music inclusive. And so, as Brandon releases his follow-up album HELP! This year; let’s dive deep into probably one of the most powerful, inspiring, thought-provoking, and compelling albums of the year. This release isn’t a worship album- it’s more of a rock album that is thematically centred on Jesus. Yet Brandon’s passion and fervour and intensity are never more too real here; and HELP! to me is one of the albums that we all must listen to within the coming weeks and months.
I pray these songs give you something to scream to when you’re feeling crazy, sit to when you long for His whisper, and sing to when you’re feeling grateful for His never-failing rescue. I have found that `HELP!’ is a hard word to say; but powerful to pray. And I pray you receive exactly that, just as I have. I have so many people to thank and very little room in a comment to do so. I will be doing my thanking in my stories. Talk to me in the comments and let me know how it’s ministering to you! I believe there’s a song for everyone in all of our different seasons of life. `I lift my eyes, up to the skies, where does my HELP come from?!’
Opening up with the melody “Meant For Good”, this song is sung with JUDAH, and is a lyrically simplistic rock melody whereby both vocalists relay to us all that God turns around even the most dire of situations- what the devil intended for bad, God intended for good. It’s a tried and true concept, and though this opener is formulaic and somewhat cliché, Brandon and JUDAH both exude passion for Jesus and the ever-true realisation that Jesus always wants the best for each one of us. Following on from the album opener is the title track; the reveal, powerful, honest, emotional, and vulnerable melody whereby Brandon relays that he is feeling down emotionally and mentally. A song that is a cry for help from Jesus; Brandon eloquently sings out that he needs assistance from Jesus all the time. And though this song can sound like a crutch or an admission that we’re weak; it can also be viewed as a song of strength and boldness and courage- as we admit that we can’t do life on our own and we admit that we need Jesus Christ.
The rest of HELP! is musically quite imposing, dark, and simply unlike Brandon’s previous worship album- it’s almost like a ‘brand new’ artist. However, this album is still honest and takes us into the crevices of Brandon’s mind- allowing us to glimpse a side of Brandon that we probably never have heard before. “Pharoah (Let My People Go)” dives deep into the faithfulness of Jesus, and praises God for His steadfastness and His providence throughout every season of our lives; while Brandon once again sings about Jesus being faithful and always being right here beside us, in the acoustic guitar ballad and standout melody “Don’t You Give Up On Me”. A song sung from God’s perspective, Brandon reminds us that God is answering our prayers, our cries, our hopes, and our dreams, all the time. And during the times when we believe He isn’t answering, God is still there, and perhaps we aren’t listening, or we don’t like the answer Jesus gives us. Knowing that Jesus is beside us and that His plan is always the best plan; well, that should provide us comfort, don’t you reckon? “Always Holding On”, a rock song with heart and soul, has Brandon majestically and exquisitely relaying to us all that Jesus is always holding onto us, that ‘…when the night gets dark, and when the fight gets long, no I won’t lose heart, ’cause You are always holding on, and when the fear gets loud, I’m gonna stand my ground, and let love drown it out, ’cause You are always holding on…’; while “Hard Year” is a song we can all relate to. As Brandon emotionally sings about that he has had a hard year, we are encouraged also to lean on God and to let Jesus take the driver’s seat of our heart- as He shapes our ‘hard year’ into something that will ultimately be good for us, good for the Kingdom of God, and good for the world at large.
“So Close”, a piano ballad sung with Amanda Cook, is Brandon at his most vulnerable and honest- declaring that even if Jesus is this close to us, the song reminds us that we need Jesus to be closer to us every day, so that we can evidently see and experience his lavish and unending love and devotion to us all. “Fear Is Not My Future”, a powerful declaration and the longest track at 7 minutes, is sung with Chandler Moore- it’s a solid anthem that contains numerous biblical truths… but in my opinion it’s too long and could’ve been trimmed by half. The penultimate melody “SAVE ME!” follows, and features Brandon admitting that he talks to ‘imaginary people in his head’ sometimes. As Brandon admits his mental health issues, we are presented with a plea to God, asking Him to help and to save us all from our own demons and our own vices. And as Brandon becomes vulnerable and honest, we are inspired to admit when we need help and saving as well. HELP! then ends with “Thank You”, a melody where Brandon is joined by his children, and Jesus is given the glory and honour and praise in a simple yet effective prayer of gratitude and of thanks.
Not much is known about Brandon outside of his near-flawless and stellar debut album, as well as this musically different sophomore effort. Yet an in-depth history of Brandon and how he acquired his start in music…is actually not really needed for you all to enjoy HELP! or House Of Miracles. With the track list being around about 40-odd minutes; a few of the songs drag, but overall the album is quite compelling- in no way was I bored or disinterested. My attention was held all the way, and as we wait and as some of us are in isolation because of COVID-19; let us reflect upon the year and upon the future, and let us listen to Brandon Lake’s HELP! while we do ponder life’s big questions. And even though HELP! may or may not be the project that kickstarts Brandon’s career; hopefully this next batch of songs can at least circulate the globe, and hopefully people can hear the wonder of songs like “Always Holding On”, “So Close” and “Save Me!” to name a few. What is next for Brandon, you say? Maybe more song writing for other artists or perhaps working on another live album? Maybe preparing for a tour that will possibly happen this year or next year? But until that time, we can press repeat on HELP! several times, or revisit House Of Miracles. Well done Brandon; I can’t wait to hear what is next from you!
3 songs to listen to: Don’t You Give Up On Me, Always Holding On, So Close
RIYL: Mack Brock, London Gatch, All Sons And Daughters, Crowder, Delirious?