Release Date: February 17th 2017
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Open Arms
- Grace Will Lead Me Home
- I Don’t Have To Worry
- I Wanna Go Back
- Yellow Balloons
Signed to BEC Recordings in 2014 and releasing both his first label EP in July 2014 and his full length album Crystal Clear in July 2015; David Dunn, with vocal similarities to artists such as Jonathan Thulin, Abandon and Matthew West, unveiled a debut album certain to be enjoyed and cherished by many of his previous fans. With BEC Recordings home to artists like Kutless, All Things New, Among The Thirsty, Citizens and Saints, 7eventh Time Down and Dustin Krensue to name a few; David’s introduction firms up a line-up that is probably one of the most underrated Christian labels in recent times. And as David launched his debut album containing inspiring and powerful melodies such as the powerful hit singles “Today is Beautiful” and “Have Everything” and a remastered version of “Ready to be Myself”; his is now readying to release his sophomore project Yellow Balloons in early 2017. And as “I Wanna Go Back”, the lead single from the project, released to iTunes late last year, it’s evident that David’s new album is sure to impact all who listen, as we are glimpsed into David’s personal and honest spiritual journey over the past couple of years, and how the trials brought him closer to Christ. With David unveiling 10 songs of vulnerability and true surrender to our Almighty Father and our Saviour; Yellow Balloons is a must listen so far in 2017, alongside albums from Anthony Evans, Kari Jobe, Danny Gokey, Zach Williams and Cimorelli!
“…’I Wanna Go Back’ is a song of nostalgia, of longing for the time in my life when I didn’t believe things to be true, I just knew them as fact. I knew God was huge, I knew that He loved me, and I knew I could do anything, I mean ANYTHING. Then I grew up. I got ‘smart’ and needed to doubt and question every aspect of what I thought I knew. My brain insisted that God was complicated, and that my relationship to and with God was complicated. And in the end, all my ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ actually minimized my own view of what I believed I was capable of…or for that matter, what I thought God was capable of – so I do wanna go back–back to the mentality of the little kid I used to be who knew that faith was simple. It was as easy as ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’ and ‘this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.’ I wanna go back…” As David has unpacked this song in the above quote, more so than I ever could (and even could try!), I am confronted and equally comforted by the notion that when it all boils down to it, Christianity is a simple concept, and something that we can easily understand when dwelling upon the fact for 5-10 seconds or thereabouts. Simply put, and expounded upon in “I Wanna Go Back”, is that Jesus loves us immeasurably more than we could ever imagine, died for us so that we could live if we put our faith and trust in Him, and longs for us to be with Him in communion, as we show the world His love for us, and the active change He invokes in us as a result of our immediate salvation because of the cross and the resurrection. That’s it, no other additions or works needed to be closer to God. We are already loved; therefore, we don’t need to do extra.
As David fittingly recounts that ‘…I wanna go back, to Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me, for the Bible tells me so, I wanna go back, to this little light, gonna let it shine, gonna let it shine, I wanna go back…’, we are reminded that sometimes a simpler viewpoint of Christianity is needed for us to rid ourselves of the myths we tell ourselves about God, or the lies told about God by our friends, family, and sometimes by the devil himself. Though this song isn’t the most lyrically creative song out there (leave that to artists like Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Nichole Nordeman, Bebo Norman and Steven Curtis Chapman to include metaphors galore!), “I Wanna Go Back” in my opinion, is needed and required to be heard on the radio, if only for us to realise that we need to go back to the simplicity of Christianity, for us to go back to the roots of why we believe what we believe. Because if we can get that right, if we can fully grasp that ‘Jesus + nothing = everything’ then we’re on the road to finally living in the freedom that Christianity offers. And if David Dunn’s inspiring and encouraging song changes someone’s perspective on God, from a perspective that is all about rules, to all about grace and His love for us, then David has done his job quite well, and then some!
While “I Wanna Go Back” is by far the standout track on the album, the remainder of the 9 melodies are equally inspiring, poignant, encouraging and relevant, as David fervently delves into a myriad of topics that each demand attention and introspection as we marvel as his writing and singing prowess within the 40-odd minutes. Groovy jazz opener “The Kingdom” takes us back to the 80’s and 90’s musically, as David recounts that Jesus’ kingdom is alive in us, and is moving every time we show others God’s love, as we are ‘…bringing heaven down to the here and now, yeah the kingdom is living in you and I, it’s anywhere the King resides…’; while the synth led electronic ballad “Open Arms” gently reminds us that Jesus opens His arms to us all the time, regardless if we obey him or not. If we are like Jonah (who ran from Ninevah and ended up in the belly of a whale), or Peter (who doubted Jesus three times), or Moses (who murdered a man and ended up hiding in the wilderness before he was contacted by a burning bush!); Jesus still opens up with His arms and unconditional love, and that’s a notion and eternal truth that I cannot get enough of- that Jesus loves us unconditionally, enough to never leave nor forsake us, and always wanting to take us back, even when we believe we’re too far gone. A standout on this album, “Open Arms” could possibly be a radio single in the near future!
The hymn-like piano led “Grace Will Lead Us Home” follows, and the laid back melody is possibly one of my favourite tracks on the album. As David ardently reminds us of the fact that ‘…grace will lead me home, through every trial I have gone, only Your grace will lead me home…’, we are glimpsed with a declaration of what essentially is the Christian faith, that Jesus love is big enough for each one of us, and all of our baggage and shortcomings. When we come to Him, He will accept us, and that’s something to celebrate and be joyous about! The 3-minute catchy CCM/pop tune “I Don’t Have To Worry” is another track that is another personal highlight, as David’s vocals are brilliant here, where he reminds us that God is bigger than any of our situations, asking ‘…so what am I so afraid of? Cause you hold the world within your hands and that includes my circumstances…because nothing is impossible no matter how improbable it seems…’, reassuring us that we don’t have to worry about a thing in our lives as God has it all in His hands, while the EDM/pop/dance melody “Ruins” (with David attempting to sing in a falsetto!) inspires us immensely also, as David eloquently reiterates that Jesus is in the ruins, turning beauty into ashes, doing something new, turning something terrible into something good and something new.
Driven by stirring acoustic guitar, the vibrant “History” (with the noticeable yet welcome absence of piano and drums!) has David singing a gospel flavoured melody (think Unspoken meets Jimmy Needham) signifying that Jesus is outside of all of time, and knows all, sees all, and intimately knows each and every part of our histories, as he draws us all closer and closer to himself; and the equally impressive rap/pop/electronic potential single “Masterpiece” (which I actually heard a couple of days ago on Way-FM!) has me tapping my toes and bobbing my head, especially on Group 1 Crew’s Manwell’s explosive and memorable rap, as David recounts that God can and will create a masterpiece within us if we let Him.
Standing tall at almost 6 minutes, the sombre, reflective and contemplative piano led ballad “Vacation” has David earnestly and emotionally relays that he needs rest and relaxation in the arms of Jesus Christ; solace and a place to reflect and recharge the batteries, where our worries won’t keep us up at night, as we receive comfort from the One who holds all of our days together, the good and the bad. Yet it is the album closer and the title track that probably is the most impacting and the most personal track on Yellow Balloons. Inspired by the sudden death of his niece a year and a half ago, the bittersweet 4-minute melody is rather introspective, as David asks God why tragedies occur; and while no answers are given within this melody, David does make us question the elements of our faith that we sometimes take for granted or believe without knowing why- hopefully this track will strengthen our faith, as we hear David sing out from a vulnerable place, a place of brutal honesty and heartfelt emotion. A fitting way to end an album that essentially reminds us that God is bigger than anything on this earth, so who are we to question why things do or don’t happen; David Dunn’s Yellow Balloons is an unique journey that I am transfixed on from start to finish!
David’s collection of 10 songs on Yellow Balloons is great if you want to see what this BEC Recordings artist has to offer, and it is “I Wanna Go Back” that will surely catapult this brilliant ‘new’ artist into the stardom that I believe he well deserves. As David has poured out his heart and soul into a song that will surely be on rotation on radio for a sustained period of time, as well as an alubm that will certainly be on many listeners iTunes playlist for a while yet; his emotion and unequivocal passion for Jesus is sure to be infectious and contagious as we sing along that ‘…when it was You and it was me, I had everything I needed, faith could even move a mountain top…’. BEC Recordings have definitely signed a fine artist that’ll only enhance their artist roster even more. Well done David for such an inspiring album; Yellow Balloons will surely be one of my favourite albums of 2017 come the end of the year!
3 songs to listen to: Grace Will Lead Me Home, I Wanna Go Back, Masterpiece
RIYL: Matthew West, Crowder, Colton Dixon, The Afters, Sanctus Real, Building 429