Sony Music Australia
Release Date: May 14th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Keep Climbing
- Everyone’s Famous
- Solid Gold
- Dear Elton
- All Of My Friends
- Kill Them With Kindness
- The Power
Delta Goodrem has been synonymous with Australian culture for quite some time. Her impact and influence on Australian music is huge, and as I’ve been listening to her music throughout the years (more so on a regular basis ever since her 2016 album Wings of the World), I’ve been noticing this one thing- that God doesn’t really care what type of music He uses for people to understand more about themselves and more about Him in the process- if He chooses to convey His love for creation through a Skillet song, a Chris Tomlin song or even a Delta Goodrem song, then who are we, mere humans, to question anything that He does? Delta’s music has been encouraging, impactful, and dare I say, God-breathed at times- her songs like ‘Born to Try’, ‘Believe Again’, ‘In this Life’, ‘Enough’, ‘Sitting on Top of the World’, ‘Mistaken Identity’, ‘Together We are One’, and more recently, songs like ‘Let it Rain’ and ‘Keep Climbing’ (her first single from her new album Bridge Over Troubled Dreams); are all testaments of the inspirational influence that Delta has in her music. As I’ve continued to embark along the road of understanding that ‘mainstream’ music isn’t as ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ as I was even led to believe, I find myself being more open to whatever the Lord has in store for me- be it a worship song, a hard rock song, or even a song from an Aussie artist, that can deliver similar punches and remind us all of our desperate need for something bigger than ourselves to sustain us in this life that we lead.
Enter in Delta Goodrem, who I can boldly say I am a fan of. Her new album Bridge Over Troubled Dreams released May 14th 2021, and predating the album release, Delta unveiled to us 5 pre-release tracks- ‘Keep Climbing’, ‘Paralyzed’ and ‘Solid Gold’ all released in 2020, and ‘Billionaire’ and ‘All of My Friends’ came out earlier in 2021. And as I have said time and time again this last year, I’ve come to realise, that if we limit the music in which we believe God can speak to us through, then we really don’t know God and what He really can do…I know, controversial to some, but it’s the truth. And I’m understanding more and more each day, that the God who raised Jesus from the grave, is the same God who can speak through a music genre, or a music style, that may be different from what we as Christians are used to. And maybe, just maybe, that’s ok.
‘Keep Climbing’, ‘Solid Gold’, ‘All Of My Friends’, ‘Billionaire’ and ‘Paralysed’ are all songs that have released at various points during 2020 and 2021 prior to May 14th, and are all songs that remind me of just how versatile Delta really is, in terms of musical style and themes presented in each of the tracks, as this impactful pop artist delivers arguably some of my own personal favourite songs I’ve heard from her, ever since a lot of her songs from her 2012 album Child Of the Universe. ‘Keep Climbing’ is the first song unveiled by Delta from Bridge Over Troubled Dreams, interestingly enough, released in May 2020, around a year prior to this full-length album release. The song itself is one for us to become motivated by- that the premise of ‘Keep Climbing’ is this, that there can be times in a person’s life where they can feel isolated, alone, hurt and disillusioned, juxtaposed with how someone can embark on something new and exciting, all on their own, and still be ok and not feel as alone or isolated as maybe they could’ve been without that exciting journey present in their lives. ‘Keep Climbing’ encourages us to keep climbing above the darkness and out of the proverbial mudpits we often find ourselves in, primarily because of COVID-19. ‘Keep Climbing’ is a song of hope, and together with the gospel choir in the background, this quasi-spiritual track is a great reminder for us all to keep on persevering when times are tough, and the end is seemingly out of reach. As Delta says herself, ‘…I’d like this song to remind people to not be afraid to find the strength when they feel stuck between where they are and where they want to go. To find that part in you to keep climbing and to continue to believe that it will lead you to that next moment in your life…’
‘Paralyzed’ the song debuted in July 2020- she even performed it on The Voice Grand Finale, and as I myself have been immersed in what the song is saying, I’m realising that such a song as this is very poignant, heartfelt and needed in society right now. At times during our quarantine moments in 2020 and 2021, we can feel like we’re stagnant in our lives, like we’re in fact paralyzed and just looking at the situation wondering what we do right now, when everywhere around the world is hurting and going through one of the worst pandemics in human history. We are reminded that we are not alone in all of this- that restrictions in one country are very much the same in another- everyone is on varying degrees of how far this virus has gripped countries, but nevertheless, we are all on the curve, in some way or another. COVID-19 has changed how we perceive reality right now, and such a song as ‘Paralyzed’ conveys these sentiments and our feelings quite well- especially the emotive lyric ‘all of my plans have been silenced overnight’. Because that is exactly what happened- overnight in March 2020, businesses ceased to operate, in July, Victoria was shut off from the rest of Australia because of the climbing COVID-19 infection numbers. And so what do we do right now? Where to from here? It’s like we’ve been presented with so much information and we don’t know which way to turn. And maybe that’s what we need to do for a little bit. Be paralyzed. Sit in the dust and the mirkiness. The uncertainty for a bit. For if we try to rush the process and get to the other side, maybe even quicker than what we should, then maybe we haven’t learnt all the things we should when we’re under quarantine.
As funny, even maybe even heretical, as this could sound, maybe God wants us to sit in the stillness and even uncertainty a little longer, for Him to speak more without all the noise, distractions, and the busyness of life. As much as I hate COVID-19, God has used such a pandemic as this to realign all of our own priorities- to reshift and focus onto what we know is important, rather than just doing the day-to-day transient things. For ‘Paralyzed’ is such a song that depicts our own feelings at this moment, but also gives us a thought- that maybe being paralyzed at this point in time isn’t as bad as we initially thought. We think about what we ought to be thankful for, we don’t rush things as maybe we have done before. We take our time to reflect and take stock of our lives, and understand that it is in the quiet that God speaks the loudest. I mean, God is always speaking, it’s just that the heavy clouds of expectation and external things calling out to you can become so great. Nevertheless, ‘Paralyzed’ by Delta Goodrem has become an anthem for a lot of people during this moment of just collective worry and a state of uncertainty. And maybe we don’t get all the answers in a timely way that we want. Maybe we do. Maybe the COVID-19 vaccine works wonders, or maybe we just live with COVID-19 for a long, long time.
Regardless of what happens, this I know is true- during the in-between, between the now and the not yet, between what we once were, and what we hope can happen, it is in this moment of life that we can try to reconnect with people, and strengthen the relationships of our lives that maybe we have neglected before. Ask a neighbour how they are during such a time as this. Serve the community, and really ask someone ‘how are you’. It is in these vulnerable moments, where honesty and transparency are valued, that we can really see who stands by us and who walks away. ‘Paralyzed’ is a moment of realisation that this thing we’re experiencing won’t last forever. But until such a time where life goes back to ‘normal’, let us use these moments to share songs to people that maybe need it the most. Who knows, maybe a song like ‘Paralyzed’, can impact a life far greater than we know. Here’s hoping and praying that God uses such a song as this, to remind us all of the fragility of life, and the importance of family, relationships and a deep sense of self and identity above everything else.
When I first heard ‘Paralysed’, I thought it was about COVID-19- I was impacted by the melody at how much the song was relating to our COVID-19 situation, and thus, naturally I thought that this meaning was what Delta had originally intended as well. But boy, I was going to be wrong. And that’s ok. While I know now, that ‘Paralyzed’ wasn’t really about COVID-19 (though it can very much be applied to this current 2020 situation), Delta wrote the song about her own paralysing experience in 2018 where a routine removal of a salivary gland, turned into a full paralysis of the tongue and relearning of speech. Quite literally, the singer was paralysed, and in this moment in 2020 (when ‘Paralysed’ released), the song was borne out of difficulty and hardship. And though I would’ve never have guessed that such a profound thing would’ve happened to such a seemingly all-together artist, what I do note is this- that songs can bear the message and meaning of one thing, and when someone hears it, they can attach their own personal meaning to it too. Which is the beauty of why music is such a universal language and a great avenue and vessel to be used by the Lord to speak to people in various different walks of life.
‘…a million books can give us knowledge, they can share with us the path of those who have walked before us. But it’s only in living and experiencing in our own life do we truly understand – when we discover true self love, heal hurt, and feel freedom! We must believe in our own worth and in our own power… and constantly create, undo and understand all the patterns in-between! This song is about OWNING your strength and embracing the evolution that is you! Take the power back. What YOU had was always SOLID GOLD. THAT is Solid Gold! Stand in it!…’ ‘Solid Gold’ released in September 2020, and…it’s quite different from anything Delta has ever done, and I really mean, ever! I can hear a retro-style anthem- similar to that of Fleetwood Mac, ABBA or even Bryan Adams…and that is a very good thing. For Delta’s music has evolved over the years, and this song is no different. The message- overcoming adversity and reminding ourselves that every circumstance that we find ourselves in, is constantly shaping us. Whether we are in the midst of difficulties, trials, storms, uncertainties, triumphs, or joyous moments, all these things have the ability to shape and reshape us into the mature and refined people we are today. Having wisdom and a newfound sense of purpose in what we are to accomplish in our lives as we use our life and our experiences as a platform, to change someone else’s life in the process of living ours. ‘Solid Gold’ is a great reminder for us all that the things in our lives that maybe we thought were the broken pieces, were in fact solid gold. Meaning this- that the broken pieces of our lives, if used by the Lord in a way that we can be real and honest with our faults, mistakes, and shortcomings; have the ability to change someone else’s life- then they can be vulnerable with their issues as well. What we see as broken, God sees as solid gold- worth more in His eyes than in ours. Gold is worth something far beyond what we can see and imagine, and if we are to believe what God sees, that what we have had all along in our lives- the broken and messy pieces, and the great pieces, were all viewed as gold to God, and all used by Him for His glory and our good, then we don’t have to hide and be shameful and be apprehensive about which particular ‘story’ we believe God can use. God uses all things in our lives, we just have to take the step of faith and believe. So let us make today, this day, a day where we believe the gold that God has spoken over our lives. Here’s hoping and praying that God uses such a song as this, to remind us all of the worth that we have, regardless of what we do or don’t do.
‘Billionaire’ and ‘All Of My Friends’ are the more-recent two songs unveiled to us all prior to album-release date, both released in 2021- March and April respectively. ‘Billionaire’ was a song that was eye-opening especially for us listeners and appreciators of her music. It was in this track that Delta herself admitting to not drinking alcohol until she was 27, a line in the song that I initially thought wasn’t really about her…until I realised that it was. So many news articles released on the same day ‘Billionaire’ did- from heraldsun and news.com.au, to 7news and Morning Bulletin, cataloguing this relevation, and people started to speculate that maybe, Delta’s personal life wasn’t as ‘real’ as people thought it was. Nevertheless, a song like ‘Billionaire’ is a reminder for each of us that life isn’t necessarily as picture-perfect as people make it out to be- and that’s ok. Delta’s life till now has been very public, as anyone who’s been living in Australia for some time who Delta is, and people would generally know. Her life has been public, and her admission to not drinking until she was 27…well, if I didn’t believe it at first, would others have? ‘Billionaire’ is about feminity and empowerment, about undertaking things yourself and working real hard, not settling for the easy-breezy fame life that people long to have. As Delta herself portrays to us, ‘…‘Billionaire’ is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s gritty and unfiltered girl power, and there’s a toughness to its femininity—like a Nancy Sinatra track, but with the lyrical vibes of her father’s ‘I Did It My Way.’ ‘Billionaire’ is for all of the girls who lead with their hearts and make it happen for themselves. Also, life isn’t about how much material wealth you accumulate, it’s about being rich in what counts: family, friends, love, understanding, and kindness…’ ‘All Of My Friends’ is the remaining track unveiled to us prior to the full-album release, and released at the end of April 2021. The song itself just has the piano and Delta’s powerful voice, delivering an intimate song of longing, reflection, reevaluation and introspection as this track delves into this idea of being separated from loved ones, for the sake of, as this song suggests, touring, travelling, and being famous with your craft, passion, talent and treasure. ‘All Of My Friends’ showcases a persona who didn’t have a ‘normal’ life, but rather, a unique and different one, so that they can be a star and famous in what they have been doing all these years (yes, I firmly believe ‘All Of My Friends’ is about Delta’s personal life!). The song really asks the question in a roundabout way- what is it going to take for us to realise what is important- right now, or in a ‘million’ years time, when we have excelled in our career, but at the expense of home life and family? ‘All Of My Friends’ reminds us to always have friends along the way in our journeys, that when we’re somewhere in the world, and ‘all of my friends are at home’…well, that’s a situation for heavy loneliness, right?
Throughout the rest of the album, we see a myriad of themes being presented by Delta as this album starts to shape up to be one of 2021’s best, cohesive albums of the year…so far, at least. ‘Everyone’s Famous’ clocks in at track #2 on the album, and is about this elusive notion of fame, and this understanding, or rather, misunderstanding, by the general public, that fame is something that can be easy to attain, and that is something that is rather glamourous and exciting to accomplish in someone’s life. Rather, this song flips this ‘fame’ understanding, on its head, as we realise from this song, that fame in and of itself, isn’t what it’s cut out to be. Fame comes with its challenges, and ‘Everyone’s Famous’ allows us to become reawakened to a new definition of being ‘famous’, as we can now understand that everyone’s famous in their own way in their own lives and in their own spheres of influence. Fame doesn’t always have to equal monetary gain and success, and to be famous in other ways amongst friends, is something that needs to be put to the fore in society, rather than the superficial fame we’re fed with by media, each and every day. ‘Dear Elton’ is an ode to the one and only Elton John, for the tireless support for Delta and her music career. In it, Delta delivers her respect and thanks given through this song for this ‘Rocketman’ icon, as this track reminds us all of the influence someone can have on someone else and their career. As Delta herself says it, ‘…the song [Dear Elton] is a letter to Elton John. I was brought back to a moment when I was young and he reached out to me. It was when I was at my weakest, physically, undergoing chemotherapy. His kindness and belief in my music has always stayed with me. His generosity of heart gave me tremendous light, but don’t think I fully understood the weight of that moment until much later. I’ve always had this deeply inspired connection to him and his music: the way he plays the keys, and the artistry in his music and lyrics will always be an inspiration. The song is a metaphor, too—in some ways it’s an empowered message to myself, saying, ‘Here I am.’…’
‘Kill Them With Kindness’ (not to be confused with the Selena Gomez song of the same name) is a joyous and powerful song about spreading kindness to the world and making it a conscious choice to always choose kindness in every circumstance, regardless of how we believe we ought to behave in difficult situations, while ‘Crash’ catalogues the personal autobiography of Delta’s birth and how she was born prematurely because of a car crash her mother endured back in 1984. It was one of those crashes that to survive it, would’ve been a miracle, and thus, the song itself is a testament to God Himself taking care of Delta way back even before she was born. It is in these moments of near-death experiences where people often value life much more- because they have been brushed with death. In Delta’s case, the song ‘Crash’ ought to allow us to look inward, and to understand that in order to survive such a crash described in ‘Crash’, that there really was someone else with them taking care of them during the crash, other than themselves. As Delta herself puts it, ‘…‘Crash’ tells the story of the start of my life. Lyrically, it plays out like a movie scene. It’s a moment that my parents have explained to me over the years in different ways, and here I’m singing the story as I’ve always imagined it: My mum was driving alone, while pregnant with me, when someone crashed into her. Even though she was alone, I know something spiritual happened—it wasn’t just us in the car. We had faith in the front seat and hope by our side. The angels heard us cry. I was born 10 weeks premature, in that wreck, and the first moments of my life were touch and go for mum and I. I’ve experienced a series of resets and sliding-door moments in my life, which I never take for granted…’ ‘The Power’ and ‘Play’ round out Bridge Over Troubled Dreams– the former is a quasi-self-help/spiritual song about people realising that they have an inward power within themselves (a song that has in some ways reminded me of how Christ lives in us and that in Him, and through Him, we can have access to supernatural power in our lives and in the healing of the lives of others!), while it is actually the song ‘Play’ that has struck a chord with me and has become one of my favourite songs from the album as a whole. Standing at 4:42, ‘Play’ is a fitting song to finish the album with- and with the start of the track being an audio quote from an Alan Watts talk ‘Coincidence of Opposites’ from the book series Tao of Philosophy, we see this analogy and metaphor of music and life, and how we play music, not for the sake of getting to the end, but rather, we play music, and enjoy music, and listen to music, because of the song itself- we enjoy the message the song gives us, and we experience the moment more than anything else. We are not in a hurry to reach the end, we know that yes, the end is coming, and it’s ok when all good things end, but to experience a song without worrying about the end point, can be an artform, in and of itself. And then to extrapolate that to living life- we live right here and now. Yes, we know our bodies will die and decay at some later date, and yes, I do know that as a Christian, there is a heaven and an afterlife after this one. But that ought not to determine how I live my life now, it shouldn’t. The fear of what could happen in the next life shouldn’t be a big major factor in how I live my life now. ‘Play’ is a reminder of this, and challenges us all to live life abundantly, knowing and being reconciled with our maker, and loving people as Christ loved the church.
Bridge Over Troubled Dreams is an album full of hope, encouragement, vulnerability, poignancy and heartfelt moments of introspection, tranquility, realignment and refocus as Delta has created 11 songs that can pierce our souls in the upcoming months ahead. This is an album for anyone who’s a Delta fan, a pop music fan, a fan of Australian music, or all of the above. This is a must (especially with the book companion Bridge Over Troubled Dreams that catalogues the stories behind the songs in book form), and is an album that, frankly, shouldn’t go apart from the book, and vice versa. One of my favourite albums of 2021 so far, well done Delta for this album, here’s hoping more people can be exposed to, and appreciate one of Australia’s most impressive, poignant, and influential music artists of the modern generation!
4 songs to listen to: Play, Solid Gold, All Of My Friends, Keep Climbing
RIYL: Missy Higgins, Tina Arena, Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy