Release Date: June 16th 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- One Voice (Jason Gray)
- Tomorrow (Unspoken)
- We Are Free (Jared Anderson)
- Trust In You (Lauren Daigle)
- Carry The Fire (Andrew Peterson)
- Bring Me Back Home (Carrollton)
- Use Me Too (Jonny Diaz)
- Mighty Fortress (Aaron Shust)
Personally, I would assert that one of the most underrated CCM record labels in most recent history is Centricity Music (not many of these artists ever make the cut on a WOW Hits album!). With previous artists like Downhere, Remedy Drive, Sixteen Cities, Me In Motion and Jaime Jamgochian all signing to Centricity Music in the past, and other current high profile artists like Lauren Daigle, Jason Gray, Andrew Peterson and Unspoken all signed to the label as well; Centricity Music boasts a very impressive lineup, of bands and solo artists alike, who are all on fire for Jesus. Each different artist brings something new to the label musically and lyrically, and each artist is never afraid to explicitly sing about Jesus, regardless of how they are portrayed in the mainstream or Christian media.
So, I guess to celebrate the release of Jason Gray’s new EP Post Script, and new Centricity Music artist Jordan Feliz’s new album slated for release later on in 2015; the label has unveiled an ingenious and inspiring compilation album on Noisetrade, titled Songs Of The Summer. With 8 songs from 8 different artists, is it true that a listen to this EP will make you an instant fan of each of these 8 accomplished singers/bands and worship leaders? Most definitely! A quick glance through the track list shows us some brand new melodies as well as some old fan favourites, with veterans and up and coming new artists featured in this musically diverse and unique project.
Unspoken’s “Tomorrow” is one of my favourites from the r&b/pop/jazz/soul 4 piece band, with the presence of guitars, synth, and a catchy beat reminding me of 80’s or 90’s music. Yet it’s not just catchy and danceable music drawing me into the personal pop anthem; it’s relatable and moving lyrics also. As Chad, Mike, Jon and Ariel relay to the listeners that the God of all the universe is holding our days in the palm of His hand, and that we can say with confidence and peace that ‘…I don’t know what tomorrow holds, I’m learning how to let it go, Jesus You are in control, of my tomorrow…’; the concept of laying everything down at the feet of Jesus and surrendering control, leaving it in the hands of our Creator, though nothing new thematically, is still powerful. The inclusion of this explosive radio single is the perfect way to start off the summer (or winter if you live in Australia like me!). Another EP/album highlight is Aaron Shust’s “Mighty Fortress”, co-written with Paul Baloche. The musically aggressive rock tune and simple worship song has Aaron conveying the message and truth of God’s closeness and faithfulness, through the earnest and comforting chorus that ‘…a mighty fortress is our God, a tower of strength never failing, the name of Jesus, true and strong, no other power could ever save us…’. With light acoustics and a captivating, pulsating guitar riff underpinning the song, the inspiring melody serves as the musical backdrop for God to move and work through Aaron as he gives God the praise. With the lyrical message being that we can stand strong with all our might, and shout out that Jesus is our rock and mighty fortress, and will always be here in times of trouble; Aaron has delivered a hit in the making!
“Use Me Too”, from Jonny Diaz, is a toe tapping danceable track led by synth, electronics, acoustic guitar and hand claps as percussion. Using the analogy of David fighting Goliath in the first verse and Mary in the second verse, and singing the song through the perspective on an underdog, Jonny reminds us that just because we aren’t equipped to handle situations and do God’s will, doesn’t mean that God won’t use us at all for His purposes and His glory. Fun, bouncy and upbeat, we are uplifted and inspired by Jonny’s prowess as a writer and eloquence as a singer; God can use anyone He wants for His plans, and because of this truth, we can rest and trust in Him that His plans are higher than ours. Carrollton, a southern gospel/country/rock band, also feature here, with a congregational worship testimony like upbeat and celebratory guitar led song called “Bring Me Back Home”, which should be fun to perform live, as we worship Jesus, and vibrantly call on His name, and asserting that ‘….this is my story, this is my song, praising me Savior, all the day long…’ (great job including the chorus of “Blessed Assurance”!)
Just releasing her debut album a few months ago, Lauren Daigle’s potential new single “Trust In You” certainly brightens up the track list quite a bit, as this passionate young woman of God inspires us to live for Jesus, and trust in Him all the time. One of the promotional singles on the album, prior to the release of How Can It Be, the catchy and encouraging piano led melody speaks about how God is faithful, and can be relied on, despite of what we see, feel and believe, as Lauren eloquently and majestically reiterates that ‘…when You don’t give the answers, as I cry out to You, I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You…’. Though stuttering when he speaks, Jason Gray is one of the most brilliant singers, and songwriters as well, and this shows with the melody “One Voice”. Previously on Post Script, Jason branches out from soft and reflective songs to dance pop melodies, in the more upbeat song, where he highlights the fact that we have been given a unique voice by God, and that ‘…it only takes one voice to sing a song, so lift your one voice, sing it loud and strong, soon there will be others who want to sing along, with one voice, we’ll be singing with once voice…’; encouraging us to lift our voices and give glory to God in whatever way we can.
Andrew Peterson’s “Carry The Fire” is another song on this compilation. With Andrew composing the song for a friend in the midst of a tough time spiritually, this song still is impacting and hopeful even three years after the song released on the album Light For The Lost Boy. Though somewhat ‘dated’ amongst the rest of the newer tracks; “Carry The Fire” still has important things to say, as we are reminded that friends can carry each other’s burdens, and that God is the ultimate friend who can carry everything for us that we can’t handle. But the song that really pulls me and grabs my attention is the brand new song “We Are Free” from Jared Anderson, which is a song that has never been released before until this compilation via Noisetrade. Starting off with pulsating bass guitar riff, Jared ardently reminds us all the reasons why we love Jesus, the reiterates that we are free in Him because of the cross and the resurrection, so we should give God all the praise! The song then kicks into an epic crescendo as a choir and gang vocals join in to create a stadium like atmosphere! Well done Centricity Music for including a rich and layered thoroughly enjoyable brand new melody!
So, now that you have checked out the EP, and read my thoughts, will you actively support Centricity Music and these artists? I hope you do, but I can’t force you to. This EP, which is most likely a tool and way to draw people into knowledge of and love for these artists, is something I will listen to for quite a while, and I hope that you do too! Well done to the label and all artists involved! I can’t wait for Jordan’s debut album in the coming months!
3 songs to listen to: We Are Free, Trust In You, Carry The Fire
RIYL: Salvador, Michael W Smith, Natalie Grant, Paul Baloche