Release Date: October 25th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Skinny Roads
- Dream Again
- Love Unguarded
- Holding On
- Free Worship/Walls
- Worthy (feat. Brad Sabat)
‘…Skinny Roads aren’t often taken. You can’t drive your car down there; you have to get out and walk on foot. Sometimes they are so skinny it’s one foot in front of the other balancing tentatively between each step. It’s over grown, it’s full of rocks, it’s ambiguous, and it’s obvious that not many feet have taken this path. There is no map, there is no well-trodden path, only the vision that has been placed in your heart from the creator Himself. That is a Skinny Road. As I’ve heeded the call of God, and followed His voice, it has often led me to that Skinny Road. HE is at the end of it, smiling and encouraging me on. HE is always at the end of the Skinny Road. The Skinny Road isn’t always popular to those around us. Of course, they are going to ask you ‘what the hell are you doing!’, offering discouragement in sugar coated words, to coerce you over to their personal comfort zone. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105) Have you ever walked in the dark with literally a lamp being your guiding light? Guess what? – You can only see the next step. How ironic, yet beautifully purposeful. So you are walking in the dark, with only a lamp to guide you, – You can only see the next step, and you are walking on a damn skinny, bumpy road! Congratulations! You are on your way to your destiny…’ Emma Mullings. Maybe you haven’t heard her before. Maybe you have. When you hear her on the radio, you would think you heard her before, even if you haven’t. Because of her similar sound to artists like Alabaster Box, UNITED, and local Aussie indie artist Merise, and even to some extent Brooke Fraser; Emma’s heart to deliver music that uplifts and encourages is what makes this first project of hers, aptly and maybe even appropriately titled Skinny Roads EP, one to take note of in the months to come. In her mid-30s, a mum of 2 as well as currently being a morning show radio host on Hope 103.2 (alongside her budding TV career as a presenter of issues on the weekend Morning Shows every once in a while); Emma’s EP is a miracle in and of itself.
Since struggling with issues like depression and suicidal thoughts earlier on in life; Emma’s journey out of the darkness is nothing more than God’s miracle on her life. And so, considering her journey of late, Skinny Roads takes on a whole new meaning. To take the skinny road is to take the road that isn’t the easiest at all. And this EP, though a long time coming for Emma, is one that, while it won’t be as popular as any other EP recorded by popular American CCM artists, will nevertheless make waves in the industry. The single “Skinny Roads” has already charted Australian radio and is now currently being released to many American Christian radio stations. And while it may take some time for any international act, let alone any Australian artist, to be recognised in the U S of A; Emma’s well on her way in becoming one of the success stories of CCM/pop, considering her past and what God led her to for her to abandon what was and to embrace such a skinny road!
With the EP standing at 6 songs, Emma imparts to us an EP where two songs are previously known and released prior to EP release date, and yet another is a free worship track. Still, Emma reminds us that just because an EP is on the shorter side (in terms of number of tracks), it doesn’t mean that the quality isn’t as good compared to ‘longer’ EP. In fact, if I would’ve created my top 20 EP’s list later on, during the year, I would’ve included Emma’s collection within the list. Nevertheless, Emma’s passion and heart is evident within these melodies, as we’re shown what great Aussie talent can achieve within the independent Christian music industry. Taken from the Bible and how Jesus told us of the narrow road and the wide road, title track “Skinny Roads” presents to us a title that is much more relevant to today’s society- yet it still means the same thing. To travel a road that isn’t to our liking can take much faith and trust. Because to be honest, who’d want to travel a road that is skinny? It means trouble straight away right? A wide one with much more space should do us well. Yet we know that often in the Christian life, we are called to travel the roads that the Lord places us on, often the ones that are indeed skinny. For Emma, she and her husband were called to plant a church in Miami. While she and her husband are still pursuing that and asking the Lord to speak clearer on that issue, what I am reminded through “Skinny Roads”, is that we all have our own road to walk on, dare I say, a skinny one. Hopefully this track ought to awaken us to what it means to follow Christ to where He is calling us, even if it means to forsake the wide and embrace the skinny for the sake of the kingdom. Coupled with a music video filmed in grayscale where Emma sings and it shows a swimmer overcoming their own fears about swimming and diving; “Skinny Roads” has just ventured into U.S. territory. Yet whether the song does well or not, is not necessarily of any importance. What matters is this- that “Skinny Roads” encourages at least one person in their quest to ask the Lord to reveal to them what their path is, their out-of-comfort road to walk on. I know the song has encouraged me- and for that, the song has served its purpose. Here’s to it encouraging others on their own personal journeys. Well done Emma for such a thought provoking and encouraging melody, and a song that’ll be on my iTunes playlist for months and years to come!
Track #2 of the EP, “Dream Again”, is just as powerful as the first single, and is another track to have released prior to the EP on October 25th. A song that reminds us all that all of our dreams that were once dead or once placed on hold as this thing called ‘life’ started to happen, could in fact become a reality if we decide to just look beyond what we see and take a hold of what Christ sees of our circumstances, this song is a moment of realisation and encouragement, and is a great melody to play to friends who may not know Christ. It is a song that motivates, and a song that bridges the gap between the sold out Christian and the sensitive seeker who is trying to figure things out. A regular voice on Sydney’s Hope 103.2 as the mornings announcer from 9am-1pm each weekday, Emma herself is someone who’s breaking out to pursue her dreams, hence, this song is as much for her as it is for everyone else who may feel at times bogged down by the mindlessness of the mundane. A pop-driven song through and through, the track opens with distorted electric guitar strums, hand claps and a pulsating drum beat as Emma encourages us all to ‘…wake up, wake up, letting go of all that’s make up, starting over, dreaming, take in my tomorrow, dreaming again…’, that our God given dreams ought to come alive as we rid ourselves from what the devil tries to speak and focus on who God says we are.
Throughout the rest of the EP, Emma imparts a variety of musical genres, each with the potential to become just as powerful and emotive as her first two hit tracks. “Love Unguarded”, a track that was created into a lyric video not too long ago, is a certain radio single in the future, and while only standing at 3:06, this worship track, that could easily be sung at church on Sundays, reiterates the fact that God ‘…went all out, deliberate in romance, dying to save, in Your love, You gave, all for us, You poured out, eternal salvation, Jesus our God, in Your love, You gave, all You are…’; while “Holding On” allows Emma to present a much more freer-flowing worship song about us holding onto the hope we have in Christ, even during the times when the difficult seasons plague us.
“Worthy”, a collaboration with aspiring hip-hop/spoken word artist Brad Sabat, is a collision of the musical undertones of worship and spoken word, and the creation is in fact as much beautiful as it is uplifting. “Worthy” allows us to worship in a landscape of truth and biblical hope, as Emma also continues in this vein in a free worship track titled, as you guessed, “Free Worship”. While only 2:55, “Free Worship” does what it is intended to do- allow us to worship God within a space of minimal structure, reminding us that a song doesn’t have to have stanzas, choruses, and familiar moments where we repeat for it to be effective. A great end to an EP that is as comforting as it is assuring; well done Emma for Skinny Roads EP, a collection of 6 songs that I’ll continue to listen to in the upcoming weeks and months ahead!
‘…[I’ve learnt] that God is bigger than anything that I’ve ever done or that has been done to me. What Jesus did for us on the cross is bigger, holds more weight, and more power. God really took me on a journey of forgiveness in one season of my life and he showed me that he restores everything. Not only the abused but the abuser. He restores it all. And understanding his Heart for people and his heart for forgiveness and redemption really shifted my perspective on so many things…’ Emma’s EP is for anyone who enjoys Australian music a la UNITED or Alabaster Box, anyone who enjoys music with an independent slant, or both. Emma may not be well known, but her music I’m sure will encourage and reach whomever hears around the world. Australians have had success in Christian music in the past, from the Newsboys, Peter Furler, for KING AND COUNTRY and Rebecca St. James, as well as Hillsong, Planetshakers and UNITED to name a few; here’s hoping Emma Mullings follows suit. Congrats to Emma for such a powerful first single and the time it has spent on the top of the Australian charts. Can’t wait til America embraces one of Australia’s best kept secrets, I reckon, since mainstream pop artist Dami Im in 2013!
3 songs to listen to: Dream Again, Love Unguarded, Skinny Roads
RIYL: Britt Nicole, Merise, UNITED, Bel Thomson, Alabaster Box