Release Date: October 8th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Love Is The Answer
- You Love Me As I Am
- All For Your Glory
- Vessel Of Your Love
- Hero Rising
- You Are My Hope
As a human, as one person in the world, I personally believe that I myself of my own accord, am maybe only responsible for actively wanting to check out and actually diving deep into… only some of the artists I regularly listen to right now. Sure, I do have my favourite music artists… but I reckon most of them are my favourites, because of recommendations from friends, family, other review sites, youtube, social media comments, or other artists on social media. Herein, the point stands, that more often than not, more often than we’d like to admit; liking an artist is mostly based upon what people around us say about said aforementioned artist. It’s a fact of life… and so it should be… because if we really rely on just our heart or our brain, then to tell you the truth, the music we’d be listening to would probably be not that good for our soul. And thus… a while ago, I paid extra attention at a Jesus Freak Hideout press release. See JFH is a review site that I frequent for the latest Christian music news, and on one particular day, I stumbled across news about singer/songwriter Carla Bianco’s EP You Love Me As I Am. An artist whom I would never have listened to if I was searching for music on my own (see my point?); I do need to give kudos and credit to JFH and this article. Because Carla’s emotive, honest, inspiring and worshipful EP, is just what we need during this calamitous, chaotic, uncertain and unprecedented time of the pandemic. We need songs of encouragement, hope, inspiration, uplifting our souls and our very being; and this is what Carla’s EP has done to perfection!
I felt God calling me to finally record an album. After all my travels and achievements, it was the one thing I had never done and truly yearned to do. I could not believe this mighty God I believed in my whole life, who I called my Best Friend, truly loved me so completely. I had never really received that love so fully in my heart before. A lifetime of self-condemnation was being healed in that very moment. I was in a state of peace and joy like I had never known before. I thought if God loves me this much, I want to love Him back with my life.
I realize now that God is everything, and He is in everything, not just music. I thank Him with everything that I do in my life, whether it’s making my son a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, praying with a sick neighbor, cleaning my house, walking my dog, and yes, writing a song… it’s all for God’s glory.
To tell you the truth, I knew nothing of Carla’s music career going into this release. I’m sure you all haven’t either. Carla is an independent artist, and compared to other big-name artists who are on labels… she’s someone who flies by underneath the radar. However, Carla has a brilliant, uplifting and powerful testimony and story which is outlined in her biography on her site. That article actually tackles the story extremely in detail, much more than I could ever do; and like other artists such as Julie Elias, and Baylor Wilson (who were on the brink of being famous in the mainstream), Carla decided to actively pursue a career in Christian music after being at a crossroads earlier on in life as to work in mainstream media or not. The result is an artist who gives glory to God in everything she does, and this is no more evident than on You Love Me As I Am. “Love Is The Answer”, the opening melody on the EP, is a 90’s inspired pop tune that speaks about how showing love is the answer to bringing people closer to Jesus. And as Carla earnestly and fervently paraphrases 1 Corinthians 13, we are met with a track that speaks about the realities of evangelism- it can never be done right through persuasion, and it is rather more effective when spoken with love and in relationship with the other person. The title track is next, and is a captivating, compelling and breathtaking ballad, whereby Carla emphatically sings out to God, thanking Him for the endless and boundless love He has showered and will shower over us. With some people in this world believing the lies of the enemy that we are unlovable and that no one cares, Carla’s melody is a breath of fresh air, and reminds us of the eternal truth of Jesus Christ and his steadfast love for each and every one of us- past, present and future.
The rest of the EP is just as vibrant and compelling as the first two songs. “All For Your Glory” is a powerful, worship anthem that probably will have no trouble finding a home on radio if given the chance, as Carla majestically declares with humility, poise and grace, that everything she does in her life, and everything that God has done in her life as well, is all for His glory; while the stirring, captivating piano led ballad “Guardian” is a personal standout on this EP, with Carla emotionally, skilfully and powerfully relaying to us that Jesus Christ is her guardian- her stronghold, her refuge, shelter, Father and Friend. “Vessel Of Your Love”, emphatically sung across anthemic and orchestral instruments, is a grandiose piece with a high level of production; and also is an ever-present reminder of the fact that as believers we can trust God implicitly, and can undoubtedly and with confidence ask God to be vessels of His love. “Hero Rising” is probably the most radio friendly and CCM song on this EP, with Carla majestically and emotionally encourages us, and inspires us by crying out that ‘…there’s a hero rising in each of us, it’s the spirit of the Lord in us, so spread your wings and fly, I see a hero rising, rising up to the sky…’; while You Love Me As I Am ends with my favourite song on the album. “You Are My Hope” isn’t a Skillet cover, but rather an original, however I reckon it’s one of the most inspiring songs of 2021. It’s a moment of desperation, of surrender, of devotion and of giving over our everything to Jesus, and as Carla cries out with passion that ‘…You are my hope, You are my song, and You are my strength when I can’t go on, You are the one who turns it right from wrong, and I sing a song, You are my hope…’, we are met with a prayer and a promise that God is always with us and always beside us, even and especially in the times where we can’t see Him.
I am so grateful to finally be able to share this music that was created during such a difficult time in our world. I felt inspired to write the songs on this EP in the beautiful assurance of God’s love and presence, in spite of this past year of uncertainty and fear that we all experienced. This music is a jubilant proclamation that we are so very loved, and it is the divine love of God that will heal us and unite us.
During that retreat, I was immersed in scripture and felt His love and reassurance comfort me and distill a new sense of identity and purpose unlike any I’ve ever felt before. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share this wonderful assurance I have discovered as if for the first time. I can’t think of anything I’d rather sing about than God’s unconditional, unshakable love for me.
Carla Bianco’s EP You Love Me As I Am isn’t going to revolutionise the music industry. It’s not going to win all of these awards and accolades. It’s not going to put Carla’s name forward and it’s not going to bring Carla instant fame and fortune. But what this EP has achieved is the deliver to us a batch of songs that are honest, that are personal, that are worshipful, and that will comfort, inspiring and encourage. It’s an EP that will fit right at home on your playlists, and this release is incredibly important for these times as the world starts to open back up after the height of COVID-19. We all need encouragement, and these introspective, reflective songs are just as important and moving and necessary as the pop carefree songs of OneRepublic and the country jams of Florida Georgia Line and the big anthemic high profile worship songs of Jeremy Camp. Every facet of music fits together and God uses all of it. And so, shall we beomoan that Carla isn’t receiving enough airplay? Because these songs are great and no one may listen? If one life is changed from this EP, then I’d say it’s worth it. And so, as we wait and see what is next from Carla, let us ruminate and immerse ourselves in the truths of God and His word through these 7 moving and powerful songs. They may not be as flashy nor flamboyant. But they don’t need to be. They’re unassuming, ever quietly reminding us that we’re not alone in this life, and that God is here with us.
3 songs to listen to: You Love Me As I Am, Guardian, You Are My Hope
RIYL: Natalie Grant, Kari Jobe, Kim Walker-Smith, Mandisa, Amy Grant, Lauren Daigle