Release Date: May 1st 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Come Alive
- Different Life
- Rocket Ship
When one is said to have a ‘different life’, they would maybe assume a different persona (acting more reserved in public and louder/more confident in private), or maybe at the other extreme one would have two or more families, and have ‘different lives’ that way. For Carmen Justice though, one of the five lead singers of the now-disbanded CCM pop band 1GN; her brand new EP Different Life signals the start of her ‘mainstream’ pop career. Previously one of the founding members of 1 Girl Nation (later known as 1GN), Carmen Justice shocked the CCM world with the release of a debut solo single “Flaming Arrows” in early 2017. 2 EP’s followed in 2017 and 2018 (Against The Odds and Quarter Life Crisis), however with those two projects removed from the internet in any format (not on Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify!), it would seem that the year of 2020 is a rebirth of sorts for Carmen. I’m not really sure about the reason for the removal of both EP’s from Carmen, unless they’re being re-recorded for a future project. Yet with the 5 track EP originally only being available on Soundstripe, this collection of high-octane, encouraging, inspiring and hopeful melodies reveal that Jesus still is working, and is continually moving us closer to Himself, even if these songs do not have an overt message of Jesus, and even in this apparent lyrical shift from Carmen.
Musically and stylistically different to any of 1GN’s previous material, we are immediately introduced to vibrant electronic beats and pulsating synths and keys, as Carmen eloquently relays to us tons of metaphors and imagery in the EP opener “Airplanes”. As Carmen likens living life to flying an aeroplane, and also compares living our best life with people and loved ones around to flying above the highest heights and having a sense of excitement and adrenaline, we are encouraged to live life in the moment with others now, as we don’t know if tomorrow will ever come, and we don’t know what the future holds. The dance/club anthem “Come Alive” is next, and will fit right at home in a bar or in a club, as Carmen fervently sings to her husband, outlining that he makes her come alive, that only he can make her feel special and loved and all of the intense, heightened feelings that come with love and infatuation.
The midpoint is the title track, and it is at this point where we hear a more reserved, introspective track, even though the music shows us an r&b Caribbean flavour. As Carmen declares to a friend or to an ex that if it was a different life they’d have more in common than they do right now, there’s this sense of importance here, as Carmen indirectly urges us to take the special moments with our loved ones now, and take that step of faith and be with the ones you love now… as life is short and transient. The laid back and electronic “Rocket Ship” is a weird sounding title; however is one of the most personal tracks Carmen has recorded. As Carmen admits that sometimes she can feel a bit all over the place and a bit disorientated for no apparent reason, the theme of running away and going into a rocket ship to escape your problems and issues, is a timely reminder of what not to do, and an encouragement for those who are struggling mentally and emotionally to seek out help and talk to someone- a friend, a family member and especially a professional doctor or therapist. The EP finishes with the fun and quirky “Manhattan”, a sort of ‘live-it-up, don’t-care-about-anything type of vibe which lets us know that we can indeed sometimes have fun and sometimes let our hair down, and sometimes relax and forget about the cares of this world, even for a few minutes.
When one chapter ends, another begins, and it seems that Carmen Justice’s new journey (for the second time?) is worth checking out in 2020. Time will tell if Against The Odds and Quarter Life Crisis will be re-released at some point or not… and while 1GN have ended for around about 4 years, it’s still a bittersweet moment whenever I hear solo music from each of the band members. All good things on this earth usually do come to an end, so let us not lament on what could have been with the band. Instead let us focus to the future, with Carmen’s new solo project and how she’s still leading people to Christ (covertly!) through her inspiring music. Different Life is for sure the first step in the next part of a new and exciting journey, so let’s all immerse ourselves in what Carmen has to offer musically, and remind ourselves that she’s one of today’s rising pop stars… with a hopeful and inspiring message of course!
3 songs to listen to: Airplanes, Come Alive, Manhattan
RIYL: 1GN, Rachael Lampa, Stacie Orrico, Avril Lavigne, Plus One, Backstreet Boys, Ronan Keating