Release Date: March 27th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Just Be You
- Whatever Happens Happens
- Wait and See
- Perfect for Me
- Taking My Voice Back
- The Real Me
- Why Are You Waiting (feat. Jason Roy)
- Purpose for the Pain
- Centre of It All
- See You Here (feat. Nathan Sheridan)
Brooke Robertson has been around the music industry for a couple of years now- her debut EP released in early 2018, and was met with heartfelt praise as we saw this young Louisianan deliver some of the most emotive and challenging songs on an EP I’ve heard in quite some time. Now fast-forward 2 years. in 2020, Brooke has been on a myriad of tours, as well as unveiling to us her debut full-length album, produced by Seventh Day Slumber band member Jeremy Holderfield. With her music sounding very stylistically similar to that of someone like Holly Starr, Brooke’s songs and overall vibe is something refreshing, having an acoustic-pop vibe that seemingly isn’t covered as much in CCM as it should (a la Ellie Holcomb, Bethany Dillon, Lindsay McCaul etc.). Regardless, we have seen a level of maturity and refining over the last 2 years, and releasing on a day where other prominent albums like CHOOSE TO WORSHIP (Rend Collective) and Good to Me (Rhett Walker), to name a few; Brooke Robertson and her songs have shown us that you don’t have to be always signed to a major label for your album to be good- and that’s exactly why Brooke’s music is so appealing and interesting- great quality songs, even though the album is recorded and released independently. This new album by Brooke is a personal one for her- since revealing earlier on this year that she has been a survivor of sexual abuse, Taking My Voice Back and especially the title track brings to us a sense of hope and restoration, as Brooke invites us to listen to these songs and listen to the survivors of such a horrific ordeal, and understand that even in the midst of difficult things happening, God will always bring good things out of bad and dire situations- and Taking My Voice Back is a good thing out of Brooke personal bad situation.
‘Just Be You’ is the first song from the album, and speaks about the topic of uniqueness and how there is only one ‘you’, and that as we find our identity- in Christ alone; we are called to pursue this identity, and to not behave or copy anyone else’s. We are created uniquely by God for our own God-given purpose, and as Brooke herself explains in a recent blog post, ‘…it’s easy to look at someone else or see a post on social media and want to change ourselves just to fit in. It looks different for so many people. Maybe it’s peer pressure or changing your appearance, just to feel accepted. I just want you to know that God doesn’t make mistakes. Feel confident in who you are. You are you for a reason. Own that…’ It is when we can truly understand and know what we have been created for, by understanding our talents, gifts and where we feel like the Lord is leading us; we can focus on what we have been given instead of worrying about what we may or may not have. ‘What Happens Happens’, though my initial thought was ‘oh no, not another ‘que sera sera’ song’, is a song that is so much more- with acoustics and ukelele’s alongside light electric guitar and a swaying beat; and yes, we can say ‘whatever happens happens’, not because we are into fate or fluke or chance or serendipity; but rather, we know that God holds our life in His hands, and thus, whatever happens happens because we trust a God far bigger than we as mere humans can ever contemplate or imagine. ‘Wait and See’, inspired by the bible verse James 1:2-4, where we ought to exude pure joy when we are under difficulties and trials, because we know that the testing of our faith will produce perseverance, which will in turn bring about a mature and complete finished work, not lacking anything; is a song where we’re reminded through this whimsically swaying and acoustically driven song that often the things that we can say to our younger selves (the song itself is a letter-of-sorts to Brooke’s younger self), is to hold on and keep believing that the God of everything is working even the darkest of things to His glory and our good; while ‘Perfect For Me’ features light percussion and addresses this issue of comparison, and trying to hide the fragile parts of ourselves, from others and from God, for fear of condemnation or even judgement. ‘Perfect For Me’ speaks of how God is perfect and gave His Son Jesus to die an imperfect death (and necessary one to bring us back to Himself) so that we didn’t have to- and so we don’t have to compare and strive to be perfect- we only focus straight ahead, knowing that Christ is perfect on our behalf.
‘Taking My Voice Back’ is perhaps one of the most vulernable songs I’ve heard in 2020, and a song that can hopefully bring healing to a lot of young people around the world as this topic of sexual abuse is brought to the fore. I don’t think there’s many, if any, songs within CCM about sexual abuse- perhaps only one- Tenth Avenue North’s ‘I’m Listening’, and that’s not really a CCM track anyway. Well, with ‘Taking My Voice Back’, there’s another song that can help and shed light on a topic that just doesn’t get talked about because…well, I dunno. Regardless, Brooke has drawn upon her own sexual abuse experience when she was younger and placed it in a song, and according to her, we see a woman that has finally let go and has forgiven the person who stole her innocence all these years ago- ‘…I wrote this song out of the most vulnerable place in my life. I was sexually abused when I was younger. I went through a dark season of self-blame, feeling dirty, and depression. I got to this place where I had a choice. Did I want to stay in this dark place and let nothing change, or do I give this over to God so I can live a free life. So I did that. I let it go. I did bury this deep down inside which made me numb to this for 15 years. It is something I could never erase, but it was something that I never let define me. Fifteen years later, I took my voice back by fully finding freedom when I was able to contact this person and let them know that I forgave them and so does God. When I wrote this song, it was a part of my healing I didn’t know I needed. Taking your voice back comes from the freedom of letting go of whatever you are holding onto that is keeping you away from the life God wants you to live…’ It is in this quote that I admire Brooke all the more- this song has a great potential to impact a lot of people, and be a reminder that it is ok to speak about the taboo things; to speak about things that hardly ever get discussed, because in speaking about these things that people often don’t want to discuss; healing and hope and forgiveness and saying sorry can come out of such a difficult ordeal, as we know and be amazed that God is working through the difficult moments, that our good and His glory comes out, more often than not, through the daily grind we’re in.
Throughout the rest of the album, we see Brooke deliver to us themes of importance as we are blessed to be given songs of encouragement and hope- ‘Gaze’, taken straight out of the bible, about Peter’s journey in walking on the water to Jesus; is a song where we see the need for us to fix our eyes continuously on the Lord as we take leaps of faith into the unknown straight to where we know Jesus is leading us; while ‘The Real Me’ features Brooke in her element as this country track really brights light to Brooke’s own love for country music. The song itself shows a desire for singers, artists and just people to be real with their stories, to be real with their music, and to not just show sides of themselves that they think people would love- and then be a shadow of a person because of that. ‘The Real Me’ gives us motivation to be real with the people around us, and in doing so, we’ll know who the people are that’ll stick with us regardless or not. ‘Why Are You Waiting’, featuring Building 429 frontman Jason Roy, is the longest song on the album, and asks the question of ‘why are we waiting’, as if we think we need permission to sit at the table of God, because we may think we don’t deserve to be even worthy enough to stand in the presence of said table to begin with. ‘Why Are You Waiting’ attempts to undo all the preconceptions and assumptions, as we understand that we are welcome to sit at the table as we are, to enter into discussion with our Father with no condemnation or judgement- that in and of itself should cause us to wait no more so we can sit at the table freely.
‘Purpose For the Pain’ carries on in theme from ‘Wait and See’ previously in the album, as this song ‘Purpose for the Pain’ is a reminder that even during our painful moments in our lives, there’s still a purpose in them. We didn’t choose the moment, we didn’t want it. God never caused it- more often than not, the devil is the one that places us in this predicament. But nonetheless, we’re there in the pain, and we are wondering why. And that is a valid question. But what we ought to also remember is that in spite of our own circumstances, God is still good, and we can testify that He will use whatever is happening to us to bring about our good and His glory- we will come out the other side, hopefully stronger, much more resilient and confident in Christ, because of it. The album then finishes with ‘Centre of It All’ and ‘See You Here’, the former being a constant reminder that God is always at the centre of everything, and not us, so that we don’t get complacent, worried, stressed, or worse still, prideful; while the latter is a duet with label-mate Nathan Sheridan and speaks about making the most of this life and seeing the people we want to see, connecting with the people we want to connect with, because we’re never going to know how much time we have, or on the flipside, how much time they have. The song itself is a bit of a pun- based upon a common phrase ‘see you there’- as that phrase alludes to ‘see you in heaven’, the song calls us to not wait until the afterlife to ‘catch up’ with people, rather we ought to do it now in the land of the living, hence the title, ‘see you here’.
Brooke’s new album has been a blessing for me over the last week or so. A definite artist to check out if you are fans of similar-styled artists, like Holly Starr, Bethany Dillon, Riley Clemmons and Hannah Kerr; this is an artist you don’t want to miss- heartfelt, hopeful, honest, and a little hint of country flavour added through, because who doesn’t like country? Well done Brooke for such a soul-stirring album, one that’s going to be repeat on my Spotify playlist for months to come. Hoping that the Lord continues to bless you on your journey with Christ, and may this album, especially songs like ‘Gaze’, ‘Taking My Voice Back’ and ‘Wait and See’, be a reminder that God’s got this, and that whatever happens in life can be and does get used by God for our good and His glory. Well done on this debut full-length album, and a definite standout of mine in 2020 thus far!
3 songs to listen to: Wait and See, Taking My Voice Back, Gaze
RIYL: Mallary Hope, Riley Clemmons, Hannah Kerr, Holly Starr, Sarah Reeves, Bethany Dillon