Release Date: March 15th 2019
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- By My Side
- Signs of Life
- Know Your Heart
- Come as You Are (Intro)
- Come as You Are
- Share the Burden
- There’s Nobody
- I Will Wait
- Distant God
- You Know Me
- The Little That I Know
David Leonard is a man of many hats. His most recent one was being part of a worship duo called All Sons and Daughters that recently disbanded as of last year. In fact, for me it’s felt that All Sons and Daughters broke up too soon. With David and Leslie Jordan, the other half of the duo, making music together officially as All Sons and Daughters for the past 7 years, we have been blessed to hear this critically acclaimed duo make some of the most heartfelt, honest, raw, real and most poignant worship songs this generation has ever seen. From songs like ‘Called Me Higher’, ‘Rising Sun’, ‘Oh Our Lord’, ‘All the Poor and Powerless’ and ‘Oh How I Need You’, to ‘Great Are You Lord’, ‘Brokenness Aside’, ‘Reason to Sing’ and ‘Christ Be All Around Me’; both David and Leslie have embarked on a unique journey as we were given an avenue into worship music that literally turned the genre of worship music in its head. But in 2018, that all changed- the band went their separate ways, and as of 2018, All Sons and Daughters were no more.
It is a sad moment in Christian music history when a band that is most underrated and equally impacting and poignant decides to take a step back and change the course of their individual music careers. Nevertheless, just as Martin Smith continues to pursue worship music even now, long after the departure of Delirious?, what eventually transpired out of this duo splitting was a reinvigoration of David in his own passion of music, and what has been out of this last year, is all culminated in David’s first solo album, The Wait. While we still don’t know if Leslie Jordan is ever going to do something new after All Sons and Daughters; what we can have to say is this- that this new album The Wait is perfect for anyone who miss All Sons and Daughters, and though musically the album has a much more experimental vibe (as opposed to a full fledged worship atmosphere in All Sons and Daughters), David still brings an enthusiasm and heart towards his music that cannot be denied. Emotive and encouraging, anthemic and at times emotional, this musically diverse, yet thematically firm, album is a definite standout amongst other releases this year, and one that will certainly be played on repeat in my own playlists for months to come!
‘…The Wait was a record that came out of a season of trial and disappointment for me and my wife. We have a beautiful daughter who is seven years old. After we had her, we tried to have more kids for a while after that (four years) and struggled with infertility stuff. My wife ended up getting pregnant at the end of 2016 and had a miscarriage. We walked through the disappointment of that and it was really difficult. During that time is when a lot of the record was written. It was coming through all of that season and trying to find hope within that really dark time…’ Let me just say that this album is completely different musically compared to anything David has done before, either in Jackson Waters, needtobreathe or All Sons and Daughters. But even though his previous band (duo) was more of a stripped back acoustic worship for Sunday mornings, while this new offering is more pop-electronic worship, more fitting for worship throughout the week rather than on a Sunday morning; what still remains the same is the heart and message behind it. The album as a whole is for people who want to be in a place of worship; or are in that place already. Though the album as a whole, with all its musical differences, could initially dispel listeners from hearing more of David and his music; The Wait still encourages and inspires, and reminds us that a change in music and style may not always be a bad thing, as holistically evidenced within these 13 tracks!
Starting off the album with ‘Wanderer’, we are met with underlying electronics as David announces to us all, all of the things he knows he is a- ‘…prodigal, I can make it on my own, I am a runaway, I would rather be alone and it only takes a moment before the thrill is gone away cause I am a wanderer…’ The song is a timely reminder that as much saved and redeemed we are by the Lord, we are nevertheless still wanderers because we live in such a fallen world. Yet the song doesn’t stop there- though we acknowledge ourselves as wanderers and prodigals, God love and accepts us anyway, running and bringing us back home with Him, regardless of whether we repent for our runaways or not. ‘By My Side’ continues from ‘Wanderer’ as we hear pulsating electronic drums and David cry out that God is ‘…ever faithful, ever near, Christ before me, You’re always here, never failing, through the night, in the shadows, You’re by my side, You’re by my side…’, a notion that cannot not be sung enough. As we know that God is always by our sides in no matter what situation, we have to understand that we can know that God is by our sides, without fully grasping the gravity of such declarations. God is with us and for us, and that assertion alone ought to give us great joy and a different perspective on life and culture. ‘Signs of Life’ brings to life the quirky, unique and different’, and coupled with a colourful music video, David expresses that in every age and in every time period, and across every race, creed and anything else that divides us, we long for life and life abundant, not just for ourselves but for others as well. The song itself calls for us to actively look for signs of life (because frankly, though we are alive, we as humans aren’t really living, because of technology), but also understand that it is only Jesus that we can find true hope and encouragement, that God’s life and love flowing through us to others, can inspire us all to live life ourselves to the full with no regrets!
‘Know Your Heart’ is one of my favourite songs of 2019 thus far, and one that hopefully will be in Sunday morning worship set-lists by the time 2019 ends- the song is that powerful and should be in circulation in churches soon (that’s if the churches stop worshipping to the same songs from Bethel and Jesus Culture!). Nevertheless, David introduces us to a melody that declares from the outset, that the intention for each of us is to know the Lord’s heart, more so than anything else. To understand what breaks His heart, what He wants for our own lives and those around us, to long for the things He longs, and to champion what is true and right. David allows us to run after these things through us worshipping to ‘Know Your Heart’, while ‘Come as You Are’, complete with light acoustics and percussion, is a melody sung from the Lord’s point of view, and has a similar theme to the Crowder song of the same name- for us to come to the Lord as we are, never changing first but allowing the Lord’s love and affection for us to facilitate inward change as a result of us believing into and understanding His neverending love. ‘Share the Burden’ unveils a theme of us as Christians (or even as human beings) needing to be honest and unveil our struggles with each other, hoping that we can ‘share’ the burden of life and journey alongside each other rather than internalising our struggles and trying to go through life alone; while ‘There’s Nobody’, through electronic vocal distortion, encourages us to want to become more like Jesus, because ‘…You came to serve the least of these, Your love embraced humility, You laid Your life down here on Calvary, all for someone like me…there’s nobody that could love me like You do, there’s nobody that has paid this price…’
Originally written and covered by Gateway on their 2018 album Greater Than; David unveils a studio recording of this powerful song, and one that I’m sure will be given the Sunday morning church service treatment in the upcoming months ahead. The song itself draws thematic parallels to Lincoln Brewster’s ‘While I Wait’ and John Waller’s ‘While I’m Waiting’- the notion of waiting during the moments where we can’t see God’s promises coming into fruition. It is when we can’t see the end that we are to hold onto Christ the most- because it is in these moments were we rely on what we know to be true, rather than what we feel to be so. ‘Distant God’ is as earnest and heartfelt as any other David Leonard song, as we are reminded that God is never distant and that He is close, especially in the moments of our own difficulties (yet for me the music of the song seemed a little wanting, as the song itself and its tempo seemed to drag a bit), while ‘You Know Me’ is the congregational song a la Chris Tomlin, as David invites us all to be immersed into the worship song that reminds us all that God searches us and knows us, taking reference from Psalm 139 and thematically reminding myself of Tauren Wells’ ‘Known’. The album finishes with first single ‘Threads’, a melody that poignantly and vulnerably paints a picture of allowing and wanting God to unravel the threads of our hearts so that we can be rid of things that aren’t of Him, even if the process is painful; and ‘The Little That I Know’, a piano song that gives us comfort, that even the little we know about God (because frankly, there’s so much more to know about Him that we can’t catch up), is enough for us to follow Him with our very being.
‘…so what’s next for David Leonard and Leslie Jordan? We don’t really know. And maybe that’s ok…here’s hoping David and Leslie continue to pursue what is on their hearts as they spread the love of God in the upcoming months and years ahead. Til such a time that we get new music from either David or Leslie, we will enjoy The All Sons and Daughters Collection on repeat for a while yet…’ This quote just then was written about a year ago to sum up my own review of the best-of All Sons and Daughters collection, when we didn’t know what David and Leslie were going to do post-ASAD. Now here we are a year later, with David unveiling The Wait, arguably one of this year’s most emotive and heartfelt albums, and a hopeful nomination in the Worship Album of the Year category at the 2019 Dove Awards. With powerful and emotive songs like ‘By My Side’, ‘Signs of Life’, ‘I Will Wait’ and ‘Come As You Are’, not to mention the radio friendly ‘Know Your Heart’; this is a must-have if you enjoy David’s previous work in both All Sons and Daughters as well as needtobreathe, not to mention if you like worship artists like Chris Tomlin, Elevation Worship or Vertical Worship. Well done David for this powerful album, here’s to a lot of impacted lives in months and years to come!
3 songs to listen to: By My Side, Come As You Are, I Will Wait
RIYL: All Sons and Daughters, Elevation Worship, Vertical Church Band, needtobreathe, Know Hope Collective