Release Date: July 1st 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Gold in the Dirt
- Direction (Acoustic)
Vocally sounding similar to both Nichole Nordeman and Plumb, Tiffany Thompson started her career as an indie/acoustic/worship artist, releasing albums and EPs like One Voice and We are the Dreamers. Her music, both then and even now, is a breath of fresh air, as the EPs of what seems to be yesteryear showed us an emotional punch as I was reminded, in One Voice in particular, of my own frail nature and God’s continual redeeming one, His faithfulness throughout my own times of hurt and heartbreak. As One Voice EP showed us parallels both musically and lyrically to other songwriters like Nichole Nordeman and Andrew Peterson; Tiffany delivered songs that spanned the spectrum, from ballads to up-tempo songs of redemption and passionate worship. Yet after One Voice, Tiffany sadly fell off the radar, for whatever reason. No updates on social media, it seemed like Tiffany’s career was sadly on the downward spiral. Yet a few years later, a name change, and a shift from acoustic to mainstream inspirational pop, Tiffany has decided to shift her focus, from acoustic to electronic pop, in the form of her new EP Direction under the pseudonym DANAE. With DANAE being her middle name, Tiffany has delivered 5 songs full of encouragement and hope, as these tracks, though not overtly spiritual, nevertheless give us great motivation in this crazy road of life, and that as we hear these songs, God’s voice will alert us and draw us to songs that He wants us to focus on. No this EP isn’t a Christian one, yet it still is as encouraging and motivating as any other CCM project in 2016 thus far.
The title track on the EP, DANAE brings “Direction” to listeners as quite possibly one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in all of 2016 thus far. A song about changing direction in life, no matter how hard or difficult, we are shown the sunny and often overlooked theme of what it means to change direction, and the hope, comfort and encouragement that a 180 degree turn can be. “Direction” is a unique way to title a song- that just from the title alone, we can surmise that DANAE wants us to contemplate what it really means for us to indeed change course at various points in our life. With influences in pop, electronic and folk, “Direction” calls for us to step from the known to the unknown, knowing full well that great things await us when we take the first step into a world we may be scared to uncover. The confronting lyrics of how we all ought to have our ‘…feet on the edge, take a deep breath, set for a free fall, the time is now, take a first step off of the back wall…’ is one we need to dwell upon- are we as Christians excited enough to take the step off the edge, even if it means for us to constantly and continuously wait on the Lord from that moment onward? DANAE, though I reckon unintentionally, allows for us to think about these things within this first song on the EP. Also adding an acoustic version of “Direction”, with vocals, acoustic guitars and a strong keyboard presence; DANAE anchors the EP musically and lyrically with this song’s strong themes. Well done Tiffany for such an empowering song, and one of my favourites on the EP!
The remainder of the EP, “Gold in the Dirt”, “Prove” and “Actualised”, all bring to the fore varying themes and different styles, as we see the vast musical techniques of DANAE within this 5 song EP set. The second single on the EP, “Actualised” tells a story of a persona having a realisation of the connection they have with their significant other, that even through moments in the wilderness, or when ‘…my blind heart snaps open and we dance in technicolour…’; their love for each other outlasts everything else. Such a beautiful portrayal about what love should be like, DANAE’s soulful vocals and light piano and acoustic instrumentation makes me ponder and reflect upon the lyrics even more.
“Prove”, the most pop song on the album, full of layering vocals and looping percussion, reminds us all that we don’t need to prove anything to anyone- that once we feel as if we need to prove to someone our worth or prove to them that what we doing with our lives is worth doing in our own eyes in the first place; that is when we need a heart re-wiring, as we look inward and figure out whether in our own lives we are still trying to prove to our family and friends our worth. This is a unique reminder, at least for me, that God Himself doesn’t want us to prove anything- even to Him. “Gold in the Dirt” is the last track on the EP, and in some ways, is the most meaningful. Here we are presented with the very fact- that there’s gold hidden inside the dirt- we just need to dig a little deeper. How that applies for our lives? Sometimes we can believe that what we see is bleakness and uncertainty, when in fact, beauty, joy and a gained perspective can be sought from such experiences. Using great metaphors and an acoustic framework, this is a song that I reckon will be on repeat on iTunes for a while yet. Well done DANAE for this collection of songs, one of the EP’s that I reckon will be enjoyed by fans of both the mainstream and Christian music genres alike.
With such great vocals, Tiffany’s new EP is a certain must if you enjoy songs vocally reminiscent of Nichole Nordeman, with lyrics written to the poetic nature reminding me of Andrew Peterson’s writing ability. Though signed independently, this pop/electronic EP is bound to give Tiffany some attention, with great future musical prospects for 2016 and beyond. While a digression from her indie/acoustic roots of the past, these upbeat pop melodies are certain to bring the attention from both lovers of mainstream and Christian music alike. These 5 tracks are great to add to a CCM enthusiast music collection, or for anyone who loves great pop music full of metaphoric images and encouraging messages of hope, inspiration, and travelling into the unknown where changing our directions are concerned. Well done Tiffany for such a compelling and motivational EP!
3 songs to listen to: Direction, Gold in the Dirt, Prove
RIYL: Britt Nicole, 1GN, Rachel Platten, ZoeGirl