Warner Music Nashville
Release Date: June 19th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- I Hope
- Thank God
- Write It On My Heart
- Footprints On The Moon
- You’re The Only Reason
- The Good Ones
- Jesus & My Mama
- Hall Of Fame
- Got Me (feat. Shane & Shane)
- Rose Needs A Jack
- I Hope (feat. Charlie Puth)
Throughout my childhood, as well as further along in my teenage years and then beyond that until maybe about a year or two years ago tops; I had never really been an active fan of country music. My musical tastes growing up were pretty stock standard as far as a believer in Jesus growing up would listen to- as my family life was pretty sheltered- both my brother and I were born 3 months premature. I was introduced to Carman and Delirious? as artists to listen to… and that was it. Over the years I branched out into other types of music, but it was these two bands that essentially saw me through high school when push came to shove. Yet while I was branching out into other types of music, there was one type of music which I hadn’t actively sought. And that was country music. All of those stereotypes came flooding into my head when I thought about country music. That southern twang, and the lyrics about girls and cars and beers and more cars… it grated and annoyed me to no end. And up until around about one and a half years ago, I had only listened to a handful of Carrie Underwood songs- and that was only because a few of her songs were playing on the local radio station Hope 103.2. Yet with Jon starting up his Momentous Mondays blog post about influential artists of all time last year, as well as me reviewing Carrie’s latest album Cry Pretty in 2018; country music came back to my attention probably around this time last year in a more vibrant and active way- particularly when I realised that quite a lot of country tracks have thoughtful, poignant, heartwarming and inspirational messages that are relevant to society…even though these songs don’t overtly talk about Jesus.
I was taught from a young age that any music outside of ‘Christian music’ wasn’t (and maybe isn’t) worth listening to- but now I know that that isn’t the case. Any type of music can be used by God to speak to you, and this is especially true of country music. Established artists like Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Shania Twain, Rascal Flatts, Lady A (previously known as Lady Antebellum) and Keith Urban, along with up and coming artists like Maren Morris, Lauren Alaina, Dan + Shay, Kelsea Ballerini and Hunter Hayes have all contributed inspirational and relevant songs which have graced my ears over the past year and a half (and you can read about Jon’s and my thoughts on country artists in a few of our Momentous Mondays blogs!)- and it’s only recently that I have concluded that country music, aside from CCM, is one of the most vulnerable and honest genres out there. For the purposes of this review though, let me dive deep into one country artist this year who has impacted and impressed me quite greatly. Up and coming singer/songwriter Gabby Barrett placed third in American Idol in 2018- and this past week her debut album Goldmine released. With this album being one of the most heart-warming, emotional, hopeful and powerful albums I have heard all year (and that’s of any genre!), it’s evident to me that Gabby’s debut project confirms my every-growing thought process, as I am introduced to one of today’s most skilful and impacting young artists today and one of the most confronting and comforting albums all year. And even though I said this exact same claim in my review for Kelsea Ballerini’s kelsea, Gabby’s Goldmine is equally as impressive, and given that it’s a debut project… well that just gets me super excited and proud!
Truth be told, I hadn’t heard much of Gabby Barrett’s material until… a month ago to be exact! I’m not the most avid American Idol watcher- so when Gabby was performing in front of millions of people across America every week, I was oblivious. When Gabby dropped the smash hit single “I Hope” in early 2019, I was still oblivious. And while Gabby was toiling and working hard in the studio finishing up Goldmine, I was still oblivious. So how was it that I could go from not knowing who Gabby was one moment- to a supporter and a fan in the next? Well the answer lies in Grady Smith’s youtube video analysis of how American Idol changed country music. See Grady is a country music reviewer whom I’ve been watching on and off for the past few months- he really critiques country music and is very blunt- a straight shooter, and he doesn’t beat around the bush. Well on one video I saw- he championed Gabby’s song “I Hope”. Based on Grady being reputable in the online world, I then took a chance on Gabby. The rest, shall we say- is history. I heard “I Hope” and then I took notice. Because not to bag country or anything… but maybe nine times out of ten your typical country song probably won’t be heard by the general population simply because it’s country. But for Gabby’s vocals which are likened by myself to a young Carrie Underwood, it’s clear to me that we have a star in the making. All throughout Goldmine Gabby wears her heart on her sleeve, and throughout these 13 tracks, I am immediately captivated from “I Hope” all the way to the re-recorded version of “I Hope”. So perhaps there is hope for country to invade mainstream pop radio and show the rest of the world that the country genre isn’t the big bad evil thing it’s been made out to be? Maybe…
Let’s unpack the debut single “I Hope” first shall we? Inspired by a high school relationship that turned sour, Gabby passionately reminds us all the pain and the hurt that we all can feel when wrong is done to us. Packaged together in a nice bow musically in the form of a pop leaning 3 minute country anthem, on the surface this song seems to be about turning the other cheek, wishing your ex well and hoping that he/she and their new partner make it in the end. Yet further along in the song, Gabby declares ‘…then I hope she cheats like you did on me…’, turning the meaning of the song on it’s head. The track isn’t about forgiveness like we once thought- it’s about revenge. And while being the bigger person and not being sucked into all of this drama is our end goal and something that is more desirable, the fact that Gabby includes both well wishes and more sinister hopes in “I Hope” reveals that we as humans have the capacity to be good natured, and not so good natured. It reveals that us humans are complex- and this multilayered track is needed in society, in my own opinion- purely because it forces us to look in the mirror and see if the person looking back at us is who we want to be. Well done Gabby on such a catchy yet compelling and confronting first single!
“I Hope” came from a high school relationship I had, and I remember what it’s like to feel done wrong. We had about five songs written at the time, and [me and co-writer Zach Kale] were trying to figure out which song to release [to present me] as an artist separate from Idol, I thought it’d be cool to have my first song go back to the past. I wanted people to get an idea of who I am and what I’ve been through; how I was as a person before.
It’s been cool to see guys really like the song too, because come to find out, girls cheat too! But it’s nice to see people connect to the song, and if it can help them move past and grow from a relationship that they may be holding a grudge against, that’s all I’m hoping for.
The rest of the album is just as captivating and musically on point as “I Hope”. “Write It On My Heart” is an emotional plea from Gabby to her husband, asking him to show her his whole heart- all of his secrets, so that they can become closer as a couple than ever before. In essence, this track is a directive from one person to another, asking them to be honest, authentic and vulnerable- as Gabby sings out ‘…give me all your secrets, give me your hometown, give me meet your mama, don’t leave nothin’ out, everything that came before me, even all the broken parts, every chapter of your story, write it on my heart…’, and a promise that the unconditional love they have won’t ever fade away even if there are secrets- and this track inspires and impacts also as it’s a fraction of the love Jesus has for us. “Footprints On The Moon”, an inspirational get-up-and-go pop anthem is one of the album highlights in my opinion, as Gabby recounts her blessings and inspires us all relaying that one can chase their dreams and passions just like she did- and with determination and a clear vision, we can conquer and accomplish anything- as after all there were footprints on the moon way back in the day!
The title track is another gem of a track, as Gabby relays to us her immediate feelings when she met her husband for the first time, calling him a ‘goldmine’ and letting us know that she ‘won the jackpot’; while “The Good Ones” also reinforces her love for her husband, as the emotional tear-jerker imparts to us that he is one of the good ones. “Jesus And My Mama”, a melody whereby Gabby touches upon her upbringing and her faith, is an opportunity for her to rock out musically, as she highlights to us that her identity in Christ and in who she is as a person is hers and hers alone. If others criticise her, it doesn’t matter, as she’s already loved and accepted by Jesus and her mother. While the acoustic guitar driven “Hall Of Fame” harkens back lyrically to the love Gabby has for her husband, singing out that ‘…if love had a hall of fame, for a summer kiss in the rain, for making me wanna stay wrapped in your arms all night, all day, for the way you look at me, it should all go down in history, they’d hang your picture on the wall and write your name…’; and “Rose Needs A Jack” is a fun-filled danceable pop/country tune which basically lets us all know that we all need love and companionship to get us through the day, just like how June and Johnny Cash need each other and just like how Rose needs Jack in Titanic.
I hold the Lord so high in my life, to really being number one before anything else. I value the Lord more than I value my career, because at the end of the day, when we die, we face him. We’re going to wish that we did more on this earth for him. And so I want to make sure that I’m doing everything to glorify him. I think it’s silly that some people are too scared or timid to talk about it. It’s very important to me to include it in my music.
However, as brilliant and engaging and impacting and relevant this album is- as we all could use some uplifting songs about love and happiness during quarantine!- the songs I’ve found to have resonated with me have been squarely about Gabby’s faith in Jesus. “Thank God” is a 3 minute pop tune about gratitude in Jesus towards the good things in her life, especially for her husband, as Gabby reiterates that she wants to ‘…thank God for the hang-ups and the breakups, and the wake-up, make-up tears on my pillowcase, the all wrongs and the almost and the all-time lows all took me to the way my head fits on your shoulder, my heart can’t help but stop, mmm, look at us, how could I not look at you and thank God…’; while Gabby takes the overtness further with “You’re the Only Reason”, as she sings about her thankfulness for Jesus being the only reason why she is where she is right now in every facet of her life, especially her music career. However it is the worshipful “Got Me” (with worship duo Shane & Shane) and the inspirational and encouraging “Strong” that are the pinnacle of Goldmine lyrically in my opinion- the former being an out-and-out worship song to Jesus, and the latter being a track that reminds us all that women who have careers or even women who stay at home ought to take a look at the Bible and at priorities to see where they line up. And as I let Gabby speak about these two songs in depth- let me say that it is these two songs that you should liksten to if you want to know Gabby’s heart and her love for Jesus!
“…I absolutely love Christian music, and I had gotten a lot of requests from fans actually to do a gospel or Christian song. I was very excited to put a song like this on the album, especially during a quarantine when people are needing and looking for something to grab onto…”
“…The Lord talks about the highest calling for a woman is to be home and be there for her family and take care of her household before she takes care of anything else, and I completely agree, of course, and I follow that. I make sure that everything is right with my marriage and my family and my household. I wrote the song about people that say the opposite, that say it’s not good to depend on somebody. I always just bring it back to, what does the Bible say about it? And so that’s what I did with that song, and that’s what I do in my life. God didn’t say women can’t ever have a job or women can’t ever do anything [outside the home],” she says. “He just said that’s first, what’s important. You can also be inspired and have dreams with whatever gift he’s given you…”
Gabby Barrett’s Goldmine is a breath of fresh air and incredibly revitalising in my opinion; and Gabby’s faith in Jesus is just the ‘icing on the cake’ on this album. With plenty of standout tracks such as “Footprints On The Moon”, “Thank God”, “I Hope”, “Got Me” and “Strong” to name a few; there’s something about this project that will certainly make me revisit these songs again and again. Call it Gabby’s passion, and fun, infectious bubbly personality. Or you could call it her intense love for Jesus, and the fact that she’s not afraid about speaking for her faith and speaking up in support of fellow Christians. But whatever the case, if you were like me before and not a fan of country music whatsoever, then I firmly believe that Gabby Barrett’s Goldmine will make you a fan. I certainly has for me- so much so that I’m thinking about including Gabby in my Momentous Mondays’ blog later on this year. Or maybe I’ll write about her next year? Is it too soon though? Probably… Anyway shall we say that Gabby is definitely a young Carrie Underwood in the making? From the looks of this album she may be well on the way!
3 songs to listen to: Footprints On The Moon, Got Me, Strong
RIYL: Carrie Underwood, Maren Morris, Rascal Flatts, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Lauren Alaina