Release Date: January 22nd 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Waiting For This Moment
- For My Good
- He’s Not Here
- Don’t Lose Hope
- Who Can
- Who Can (Reprise)
- One Day
- Church (Take Me Back)
- I Got You
- Whole World
- Stained Glass Window
Recently signed to Gotee Records, Cochren & Co. (fronted by Michael Cochren) joined the label home with labelmates like Aaron Cole, Hollyn, Finding Favour and Ryan Stevenson, and former labelmates such as Relient K, Capital Kings, Jamie Grace and Morgan Harper Nichols, to name a few. To tell you the truth I wasn’t really a fan of Cochren & Co. when their first song “Church (Take Me Back)” released a couple of years ago (as I was presented with Sidewalk Prophets and Micah Tyler vibes- and both those artists are only so-so, and not outstanding, in my own opinion!)… but now in 2021, I’ve come to appreciate Michael and his band, as their debut album Don’t Lose Hope releases this past week. As singer songwriters are now a rare breed (either the artist writes the songs but doesn’t sing them, giving the song to someone else; or they do write songs and sing them, but they are of a lesser quality, because frankly, many of the popular artists currently aren’t really great songwriters!); Michael joins another group entirely- the singer who is actually a great songwriter as well. “Church” has grown on me immensely since its inception until now… and if there’s one album to listen to first in 2021… I’d recommend this one. Simply because it’s full of encouragement, heart and inspiration- and don’t you reckon we all need hope and encouragement in 2021, on the back of one of the most challenging years ever? As Michael Cochren, the lead singer of Cochren and Co., displays his vocal chops greatly, on quite possibly the most underrated CCM label; let me remind you all that Don’t Lose Hope isn’t flash nor it is punchy out of the gate, however these 13 songs are poignant, compelling and powerful. That’s more than you could hope for, as Michael is changing people’s lives and pointing people to the true meaning and purpose of life- and that is to live a life that points to Jesus Christ as being the answer to every question.
Released at the beginning of November 2018, Michael unveiled both lead singles “Church” and “Grave”; the former about the longing to get back to the root of Christianity, back to the basics, and to be reminded that church is a safe place to be in times of difficulty. The latter song is a moment of thankfulness, acknowledging the fact that if there wasn’t for the grave, if Jesus didn’t submit to the grave like He did in the Bible, then our lives would be far from where we are right now. If Jesus didn’t rise, then Christianity and believing in it is just foolishness- we wouldn’t have been saved, we wouldn’t live free and understand that it is in Christ’s sacrifice that we are made whole in Him- no, none of that would be possible if Jesus didn’t rise from the grave. And yes, there are somewhat errily similar vocals between Michael and Micah Tyler- but here on these tracks, Michael delivers these songs near-flawlessly, as the message of coming home to our roots in a spiritual sense, is unveiled to listeners in a more covert way- and less of the ‘turn-and-burn’ type of way that turns off non-believers to even thinking about Jesus. As “Church” invites us all to get back to the things of our youth that remind us of unconditional love and acceptance, we are reminded that a church should provide such love all the time. Yet many times they don’t, and that in and of itself is another discussion entirely- yet still, on the whole, the church should be seen as a place of refuge and solace. And as “Grave” continues to inspire, as we understand that without the grave, life wouldn’t be as freeing or wouldn’t even be worth it, because Christ’s death on the cross (and subsequent resurrection) is the cornerstone of our Christian faith; this song also has a double meaning- if it wasn’t for the low moments in our lives, how could we ever appreciate the high points and the benefits of our very existence? How could we ever grow as people?
The rest of the album is quite powerful and thought-provoking, as Michael challenges us to live more boldly for Christ. Album opener “Waiting For This Moment” is a slower tempoed autobiographical type of track, which basically relays to us the importance of taking the risks and the big moments in life, and not letting the moment pass you by; while “For My Good”, driven by hand claps and anchored musically by a gospel sound, is a promotional single, and as encouraging as any song out there, with Michael relaying that everything Jesus does is for our good, as ‘…why would I worry, Lord You are the Great I Am, I may not know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow in His hands…’. “He’s Not Here”, another autobiographical track, is a pop tune and a potential radio single, as Michael likens our transformation and acceptance of Christ’s death and resurrection to God calling Lazarus out from the grave, or the transformation of Saul to Paul; while the title track is a jazzy mid-tempo ballad directed to his wife, as Michael promises to be by her side no matter what (which could also be a song sung from God to us!). “Who Can”, a personal album highlight, is a 3 minute pop ditty, as Michael passionately asks who can love him wholeheartedly like Jesus can (the answer is no one!); while “Who Can (Reprise)” is a 2 minute instrumental guitar solo once again confirming my appreciation for the song in particular as being a great source of encouragement and inspiration.
“One Day”, a piano prominent ballad, eloquently reminds us to always keep pressing on in this life, and to keep strong in the faith, as Michael fervently reminds us that one day we will be in Heaven, and that this life ought to be a reminder of how we can bring others closer to God and His infinite and undying love, as “…one day every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, one day when our tired and weary bones find their rest, one day when the power of evil is brought to an end, we will see the promised land, we will see the promised land…’; while the 80’s themed pop tune “I Got You” graciously reminds us of God having us in the palm of His hand and never letting us go ever, even in the darkest times of our soul. “Young”, a Big Daddy Weave-like piano pop tune, however is my favourite song from Cochren And Co., as the track has Michael going back to his childhood, and yearning to have a childlike faith again, letting God know that ‘…I want to run to You, like a child to his father, when it all was new, and my heart was full of wonder, give me a child-like faith, a joy that takes me back to my first love, just like when I was young…’– and it is a song like this that is necessary for all of us, especially the cynic and the sceptic, as we are reminded that faith actually is simple and not complicated like we all were made to believe.
The 3 minute pop tune “Whole World” is an updated modern day version of the age-old hymn “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”, and is a gentle and timely reminder of God’s love, faithfulness and providence over our lives, as ‘…You’ve got the whole world in Your hands, nothing to fear, finding peace here, You wrote the ending from the beginning…’– it is a song like this, simple in nature yet nonetheless still effective, that makes me admire Michael the singer and songwriter all the more. The final ‘new’ track is the piano only “Stained Glass Window”, and beautifully captures the transformation God can undertake in us, as He can invade our hearts like a stained-glass window and do a work in us that we never previously thought would be possible. And it is in this debut album that we are met with a baker’s dozen of strong tracks- and obviously no strong weaknesses… and an artist with a bright future ahead of him in the many, many years to come!
There you have it…Cochren & Co.’s first full length debut album Don’t Lose Hope. With “Church” already excelling at radio, potential singles like “One Day” and “Young” are highlights, as is “For My Good” and the title track- with the album as a whole offering up confronting messages that we all ought to take to heart in the upcoming weeks ahead. In a label that is sadly not as vibrant as it once was, Gotee Records are sure to be on the up, with the signing of Cochren & Co. Easily one of my favourite release surprises of the last few weeks; this is a must-have if you enjoy similar artists like Sidewalk Prophets, JJ Weeks Band, and Micah Tyler. Congrats to TobyMac for signing this new artist, here’s hoping that Cochren & Co. will have a long, long future, which will be just as exhilarating and impacting as this impressive debut project!
3 songs to listen to: One Day, Young, Grave
RIYL: Finding Favour, MercyMe, Matthew West, JJ Weeks Band, Micah Tyler, Sidewalk Prophets