Capitol Christian Music Group
Release Date: October 14th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Live Up To Your Name
Danny Gokey’s heartbreaking, heart-warming, comforting, and inspiring story… is one for the ages. If you don’t believe me, then you can read the introductions of our reviews of his albums Hope In Front Of Me, Rise, and Tell Your Heart To Beat Again EP (or even the conclusions, or the whole reviews!). Because the in-depth descriptions on what Danny went through and how he came through the other side; is covered much more in depth over there that it doesn’t need to be repeated here. Although if you’re the lazy type, I’ll just recap- Danny auditioned for American Idol way back in 2008 but a couple of weeks before he was supposed to go in to sing in front of the judges, his first wife Sophia passed away. Now Danny didn’t win the competition- he was placed third. But the story of loss, and subsequent determination to create uplifting, hopeful and impacting music to honour his wife, has resonated with people all over the globe. The story of his first wife, has given Dany a platform to share the good news of Jesus Christ to as many people as he can (similar to Jeremy Camp and the death of his first wife Melissa!). The hit single “Hope In Front Of Me” in 2014 started his meteoric rise to popularity in both Christian and mainstream circles; as his first album in 2010 was an unfortunate failed attempt at breaking into the country genre. Yet fast forward to now, and we see that Danny has released something new. “Live Up To Your Name” is the powerful, moving, worshipful, and hopeful follow up to the 2021 album Jesus People. I personally felt that Jesus People wasn’t that cohesive or engaging in comparison to the rest of Danny’s discography; and that the 2019 project Haven’t Seen It Yet is one of Danny’s best. And from the lyrical content of the lead single (of Haven’t Seen It Yet) alone- about waiting for God’s promises and believing that everything will come together in His timing; the album of the same name is one of Danny’s most relevant and strongest musically and lyrically to date, although I’ll always have a soft spot for Danny’s debut CCM project. Don’t believe me? Take a read of Jon’s review of Haven’t Seen It Yet and let me know what you think of Danny’s latest!
Still feel inspired and ready to take on the world, courtesy of Danny’s uplifting and grandiose message of hope and security in Jesus? The latest full length project Jesus People is where we’re introduced to a whole lot more hope, joy, love, peace, and happiness. Stylistically, lyrically, and thematically though, Jesus People shouldn’t be a project that I overly enjoy- simply because Danny doesn’t break the mould. But his earnestness, passion and enthusiasm have drawn me in greatly, as Danny provides to us an experience for the ages, and one that will certainly make you feel closer to God, as we admit to the whole world that we are indeed ‘Jesus people’. With audiences having connected with the raw, honest music, and Danny’s profile now exponentially rising due to his step of faith when he was at his lowest point in his life; many songs are in fact a testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Also, the fact that Jesus keeps his promises is reason enough for Danny to keep on singing and worshipping with intense passion, and this 3rd place finalist in the 8th season of American Idol holds nothing back. With “Stand In Faith” and “We All Need Jesus” being the lyrical anchors for this project, Jesus People is a must listen if you want to praise Jesus’ name, but also want a bit of musical variety than your usual hymns.
Although you didn’t come here to this page to re-read what I’ve written before, did you? The new song “Live Up To Your Name” isn’t like anything Danny has done before, as it’s his first attempt at singing a full-on vertical worship song. Sure, he’s recorded a worship song with The Belonging Co.; but most, if not all of his songs post his first album (which was country), have been CCM, and so this melody may be surprising to some. However, I find a song like this, which still is repetitive in parts, somewhat refreshing and revitalising. There’s something special and magical about worship songs and singing inspiring melodies to Jesus; and Danny has delivered a powerful melody about all of the impacting adjectives we call Jesus- and declaring that Jesus does in fact live up to His name and every other name we call Him. We call Him Saviour, Abba Father, Jehovah Jireh, Emmanuel, our Counsellor, the Everlasting Father… and many more ‘nicknames’. Jesus is deserving of every one of these names, and Danny has indeed ushered us into the presence of Jesus, with a reflective, contemplative, and enthusiastic ballad.
There’s nothing much I can compare this song to- because everything before it has been in a different ‘genre’. I guess I could say that this song is on par with mostly everything that Danny’s done- because it is. It’s not my worship song of the year- songs like “Me On Your Mind” (Matthew West), “Then Christ Came” (MercyMe) and “Still” (Steven Curtis Chapman) are head and shoulders my favourite so far… but Danny Gokey has indeed still released a solid worship song Quite breathtaking, grandiose and anthemic, Danny Gokey’s “Live Up To Your Name” is fantastic for listeners who are longing for a theme of hope in their lives and reassurance that Jesus lives up to His name in terms of being here with us and being reliable and loyal. A song that will have my interest piqued until Danny’s next album (regardless if this song is present on the upcoming project or not!); Danny deserves congratulations- well done for such a poignant and powerful song, and one of my favourite CCM male vocalists since Josh Wilson, Brandon Heath and Matthew West.
RIYL: Brandon Heath, Josh Wilson, MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Matthew West, Mark Schultz