Release Date: January 15th 2016
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Keep It Beating
- Love Is Rising
- Love Like You Love
- When It Hurts
- Every Moment
- Live For More
- I Won’t Run
- All Of Me (feat. KJ-52)
- For Us
- Beautiful Life
Dream Label Group has always been one of the labels that has signed the underdogs, the up and coming artists, and artists that do not necessarily receive as high profile coverage. Artists such as like We Are Leo, Soulfire Revolution, Eliot, Saint Esprit, Jasmine Hurtado and New Hope Christian College all signed to the label within the past year- together with veterans Satellites and Sirens, Cindy Cruse Radcliff, Jonathan Thulin, Sumerlin and Warr Acres, we are presented with a vibrant and eclectic snapshot of a musically diverse and unique group of artists. Now Dream Label Group has signed yet another new artist, with CCM/pop artist Curt Anderson unveiling his debut project Every Moment this past week. It’s clear that right off the bat on this 12 track debut pop/rock/worship project, that Curt’s passion and heart for praising Jesus is undeniable, and his heartfelt messages conveyed are thoroughly sincere. With quite a number of songs easy to listen to and somewhat ready made for radio though, this may not be a release to everyone’s liking. And while some lyrics are cliché, I believe that Curt has done enough for me to be an advocate of his musically and lyrically, as I worship Jesus and eagerly wait for his second release. Reminding me musically and vocally of Remedy Drive, OBB, Aaron Gillespie or Sonicflood; Curt’s songwriting and singing is commendable as he inspires a generation of believers to actively pursue God in every moment of their lives. So let’s dive deep into these tracks and let me give you all my point of view.
Opening proceedings is the debut single “Keep It Beating”, driven by light acoustics and vibrant piano, as Curt passionately relays his need for a saviour. Highlighting the fact that Jesus is the One who helps us whenever we are in a tight spot, that ‘…You keep reaching down, Your love keeps pouring out, You pull me back to life and keep me breathing…’, we are presented with the promise of God’s unending love for us no matter our circumstance, and that fact alone should be comforting as we realise that God is in control. Like how He keeps our heart beating and the world turning, this debut single, while musically simple and perhaps ‘predictable’ in places, is a perfect opener when it comes to encouragement. Assurance is plentiful in the next track also, with the electronic synth driven “Love Is Rising” providing us with hope that Jesus is with us when everything doesn’t seem to go our way, a similar theme to the album opener. With plenty of repetition, which could be seen as inventive or just plain lazy, Curt nonetheless give his all, proclaiming that ‘…when your heart is drowning, drowning, when your faith is shaking, shaking, hold out for the sun, love is rising, love is rising…’, a promise that Jesus is with us, sure to move and deepen our relationship with Christ.
A listen to the remainder of the ten tracks brings forth the theme of God being faithful and ever present in our lives, in our highs and lows. “When It Hurts”, a mid tempo pop piano ballad, eloquently reminds us of the fact that we can trust God at all times, that He is faithful, even in the darkest times and the times we can’t see Him; while the electronic remix and keys driven dance number “Lights” vividly depicts God as the ultimate light shining in the darkness, against the backdrop of a groovy and jazzy 50’s and 60’s gospel atmosphere. And while the seemingly out of place thematically “Love Like You Love” is an electronic mid-tempo ballad meant to confront and question our stance on living, delving into the theme of us living and loving like Jesus, as we look deeper in our own life (similar lyrically and in message to Matthew West’s “My Own Little World”), Curt’s intentions are pure as he tries to provide us with impetus and gumption as we actively seek a life beyond the ordinary with God on our side.
Driven by keys, the emphatic title track, an album highlight, encourages us to live in the moment, considering that Christ has set us free, and that in Him, we are sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty God, while Curt shows off his softer and vulnerable side with an emotional piano only ballad in the honest “Live For More”. Pleading and reiterating that we are made for more than just breathing and existing, Curt fervently cries out that ‘…I could never give enough, even though I’m broken from the start, all that I need is the faith to believe, and your mercy I receive, I’m gonna live for more…’. If there’s one song from the album that you need to listen to, then Curt’s impressive ballad is the one, as we are reminded of living for Jesus being the only thing in this life that we should all strive for, if we’re not actively living for Jesus already!
Though there’s plenty of themes and musical genres encompassed in this album that have already been recorded before, Curt’s enthusiasm is what keeps this album fresh enough, although not entirely unique. Still, Curt impresses and shows us glimpses of his potential and what could be on his sophomore album. Relaying the themes of unconditional love, unconditional belief and devotion and the moment we fully surrender to God’s love, in the respective melodies of the motivational CCM/pop melody “I Won’t Run”; the inspiring guitar led mid-tempo melody “For Us”, as Curt highlights and poses the question ‘…if God is for us, who can be against us…the grave is empty, death will never hold us…’; and the imagery heavy pop melody “Beautiful Life”; it is the worship themed album ender “Holy” and the rap duet with KJ-52 “All Of Me”, that have impacted me the most.
With Curt earnestly proclaiming in the chorus of piano pop melody “All Of Me”, that Jesus has captured our hearts like no other, demanding all of the praise and attention, it is KJ-52’s explosive and inspiring rap/rhyme that arrests and convicts the soul, ensuring that this is a song that we all listen to and dwell upon. As the verses describe the persona being at the end of their rope, being in control then losing it, we are reminded through the chorus that no one is beyond saving and that we can give our all to Jesus because of what He has done for us on the cross and when He rose again. Therefore, our response to such a convicting and encouraging melody is essentially the album closer. “Holy” is the most vertical worship themed melody on the album, and ending proceedings on a hopeful and reverent note is fitting, as we fall on our knees, and worship God, in response to everything we’ve known through this album, particularly the fact that God is always with us, never forsaking us. With Curt majestically singing out to God that ‘…with all my heart I’ll sing your song, mercy and new love for me…’, Curt has saved the best for last, in an album full of inventive tracks as well as unimaginative melodies (there are a few of them!).
What more can I say about Curt Anderson’s inspiring and musically different debut album Every Moment? Though at times the critic in me says ‘we’ve heard all of these themes and music before!’, the listener in me just enjoys the music, and worships God along with Curt, and therein lies the dichotomy. Despite some songs being unoriginal, others are compelling and unique, and it is the moving and inspiring that outweighs the sometimes disappointing. So is this an album that makes me say ‘go and buy the album as soon as you can?’. Yes it is, if only to hear Curt duet with KJ-52! I am sure that with many more listens, Curt’s music will grow on all of us. Well done Curt for a memorable debut album; I can’t wait for future releases!
3 songs to listen to: Live For More, All Of Me, Holy
RIYL: Remedy Drive, OBB, Aaron Gillespie, Sonicflood, Building 429