Release Date: August 4th 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Upon the back of a stellar album Valley of the Shadow (in 2015) and The Narrow Sea (in 2016), indie singer/songwriter/worship leader Erik Nieder is back with another soul-stirring song ‘Faithful’, from a yet-to-be-determined EP/album release. One of the most underrated artists ever in 2015, Erik was a great find in 2015 where there was a lot of great independent album releases. One of my favourite ‘new’ artists (I say new because it was Valley of the Shadow that placed Erik and his music on the map, even though he released an album prior, in 2013), it was Erik’s song “Dead Man Walking” that has garnered success over the last year or so, in the form of a recording by Fair Trader Services artist John Tibbs on his debut album of the same name. With a vocal reminding me of artists like Jars of Clay, Jadon Lavik, Tenth Avenue North and Phil Wickham, fans of these aforementioned artists will thoroughly enjoy Erik’s songwriting and singing style. As Erik enlightens us as to who influenced him towards the path of music, we are reminded of the power of a song and what it means to listeners who hear the music. Even if we may not know the story of John Newton and his dramatic change from slave trader to advocate of the gospel of Christ, we are nevertheless still encouraged by his story (google it and see for yourself the story that has impacted millions around the globe in their own quests for comfort and forgiveness).
As Erik specifies himself, ‘…His testimony exemplifies the power of music. A power that, when coupled with the Word of God, has infinite possibilities. And the fact that hundreds of years later we still turn to Newton’s wisdom, in times of trial and in times of triumph, is proof that a song really can change the world. So when people ask me, “Why music? Why songwriting?” Well, that’s why. Because nothing can perform soul surgery quite like a song can. And no one can heal a heart quite like Jesus can…’ With virtually every song on The Narrow Sea, Valley of the Shadow, as well as his new song ‘Faithful’ having a hymn-like feel (that creates more of a universal appeal that touches listeners who are fans of worship music, hymns and everything else in between), Erik Nieder and his music have a healing and comforting atmosphere as I hear the songs. Will ‘Faithful’ become one of my favourite songs I’ve heard in 2017 when I make my final list come December-time? Most definitely! For Erik has a unique way of transforming many of his songs he has recorded into songs that could’ve and would’ve easily fit in a hymn-book. While people may say that this style of writing music may seem a little less contemporary and less energising than other songs by artists like Bethel Music, Chris Tomlin and the like, I say that Erik’s ability to create hymn-like melodies again and again is a skill in and of itself, and this is no different on ‘Faithful’!
Now…onto the song, ‘Faithful’ itself. What can I say? Well, for starters, the song stands as a testament to Erik, and how he, I reckon is perhaps the most underrated songwriter of ‘modern hymns’ I’ve heard in my generation. Period. That’s not to say that other songwriter-singers with a poetic edge like Bebo Norman, Jason Gray or the ever-reliable Andrew Peterson aren’t great, it’s just that Erik has this knack of creating hymn-like melodies, that each and every song is just as poignant and emotive as the one before. And this is certainly true of ‘Faithful’- the song encourages us to believe that ‘…even when I’m not, You’re faithful, even when I doubt, Your truth holds, even when I’m lost, You won’t let me go, when my heart is dry, Your grace flows, no matter where I run, I’m not far from hope, I may be weak but You’re able, even when I’m not, You’re faithful…’ …and with these beautiful lyrics, what else can be said? Fans of artists like Bebo, Jason or Andrew will enjoy the music by Erik, or even fans of more indie-style music (Paul Colman, Jadon Lavik, John Tibbs etc.), so I guess if fans of any of these artists aforementioned can sit back and listen to Erik’s music and be impacted, then I guess it’s no wonder why I firmly believe that Erik will travel far in this music industry. ‘Faithful’ is one of my favourite Erik Nieder songs ever, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a full length album lurking around the corner!
What have I said about Erik and his music that I haven’t said already? That his new song ‘Faithful’ is quite possibly one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year? That Erik is by far one of my favourite independent artists I’ve heard since Lara Landon’s music back in 2014? Fans of Tenth Avenue North and Jars of Clay are sure to love Erik and ‘Faithful’, as will lovers of artists like Phil Wickham and Jadon Lavik. With songs previously written, from ‘Adore’ and ‘The Rock Eternal’, to ‘For Heaven’s Sake’, ‘Dead Man Walking’ and most recently ‘Faithful’; Erik and his most is full of heart and soul. A worship leader destined to be part of the next generation of worship songs in months and even years to come, well done Erik for such a prolific and defining song that is a standout in the last few months. Erik is sure to be on the radar of music executives and record labels in the upcoming months (that’s if he wants to be signed)- but even if he doesn’t and still stays independent, his music will still have the power to reach far and wide! Kudos to Erik, looking forward to the next full-length album whenever it comes!
RIYL: Phil Wickham, Jars of Clay, Tenth Avenue North, Jadon Lavik