Sony Music Entertainment Australia
Release Date: October 16th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Before I Go
- I’m Your Man
- Standing With You
- Only Thing Missing
- Love On Display
- Who I Love
- In a World (feat. Shungudzo)
- Let Me Drink (feat. The HamilTones & Wale)
- If He Won’t
It is with listening to artists like Guy Sebastian and Delta Goodrem (both of whom are some of the many, many artists I’ve been delving into as I’ve blogged this past year a bit about influential artists) that I’ve come to appreciate the power of Australian music, and music that while not necessarily that ‘spiritual’ in nature, nevertheless hits home hard, and is used by the Lord nonetheless to impact, encourage and positively affect someone’s life, mine included. Guy’s music over the years has impacted millions of Australians, and even if he isn’t as affiliated with Planetshakers church as he was way back when he did win Australian Idol all those years ago, I’m still certain of this one thing- that a lot of his music has been used by the Lord to bring people closer to Himself and to show things about themselves in the process, even if Guy himself realises it or not. Guy’s been so impactful over the years that even I wrote about his impact and influence in a blog I did around 6 months ago– in it I expounded on a myriad of songs throughout his career that has made an impact on not only people on a personal level, but on the musical landscape of Australia and the direction of it: songs like ‘Art of Love’, ‘Angels Brought Me Here’, ‘Battle Scars’, ‘Get Along’, ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy’, ‘All I Need is You’, ‘Big Bad World’, ‘Like a Drum’ and ‘Set in Stone’, to name a few. Now as we are half-way through October 2020, Guy just released a new album titled T.R.U.T.H.; an album full of personal stories and an atmosphere that reminds us to always be honest and truthful with ourselves and others, and that especially during a time of 2020 where chaos and calamity is happening, truth-telling is one of the very few things we have control over, and that as we tell the truth to ourselves and others, we’ll realise that it is in the telling of the truth- to ourselves, others and even to God; that we can find our freedom from whatever it is that has been holding us back. For the truth does indeed set us free, and Guy’s new album, though an album that speaks about heavy topics and issues such as this; is nevertheless a jubilant and joyous one, full of upbeat melodies and danceable tracks. Unveiled to us in a time where live music shows aren’t necessarily a certainty for the foreseeable future, T.R.U.T.H. is a great reminder to stay positive and to focus on what we can control as opposed to what we can’t…and telling the truth is one of those things within our grasp and power.
‘Before I Go’ was the first single that Guy unveiled to us from T.R.U.T.H.; way back in 2018, and was a song that reminded each of us of a situation of recognition and acknowledgement, something that people don’t necessarily get enough of these days, especially if they are employed in a retail sector of the economy. The song itself, littered with many metaphors about boxing, speaks of the persona (maybe Guy himself) going ‘one last round’ before he goes off to…dunno where, but the song itself is a reminder that we all may still have things left in the ‘tank’ than we think we do. Just because we have experienced the things we have, and the spotlight is not on us but on someone younger and much more ‘talented’, doesn’t mean we don’t have anything left to give. A reminder that we all have things left on the table to contribute, even if people write us off for whatever reason, Guy himself alludes to the personal nature of the song for him, stating that ‘…I wrote this song during quite a tough time in my life. I needed a song that reminded me to not listen to the voices that are trying to tear me apart and make me feel worthless. “Before I Go” is kind of my anthem which reminds me that I am on this earth to make music which moves people and brings light…’ ‘Choir’, another pre-release track unveiled prior to his full-length album (‘Choir’ was unveiled in mid-2019), is a song that I believe is the most heartfelt and emotive that he’s ever done…period. Yes, this song, a little under 3 minutes, is indeed a song that speaks of a topic, we humans love to hide under the rug- mental health. As Guy himself divulges, ‘…I wrote this song as a celebration of someone’s life. When we lose people we love, there are thousands of slow, sad-sounding songs we can listen to which make us even sadder. I wanted to write something which was a joyful celebration of someone’s life which also serves as a reminder to not take one another for granted… He [Luke Liang] was hilarious. Such a funny lad who was always up for anything. He was kind to absolutely everyone and an incredibly talented musician. He played so many instruments and was a technical genius. He was such a captivating performer but was always humble, constantly pointing his energy towards the artist he was supporting…’ It is in this quote that I find there’s a soul and meaning behind ‘Choir’- its not just a pop ballad for three minutes. There’s a real story behind it, and that is why I reckon a lot of Guy’s songs connect with fans- the personal nature of them. ‘Choir’ is no different- the song is a tribute to his friend who committed suicide because of his mental health condition, a reminder to always check up on each other and to ask our friends if they’re doing ok. ‘Choir’ is a happy song in celebrating someone’s life, but it’s also a moment where we take stock of our lives and to re-evaluate what’s important: our family and friends rather than the job or the house or the promotion. ‘Choir’ ministers to myself on soul level, and for that I am grateful and thankful. As Guy continues about the success of the song, we’re reminded that ‘…we should love each other fiercely. When we lose someone we love, the pain is really hard to process and cope with. There’s always room for songs which help us deal with loss. I’m glad I wrote one which is joyous but still has a heartbeat…’
‘Standing With You’, another one of Guy’s pre-release songs (unveiled in June 2020), is arguably one of the most timely and poignant releases of 2020 (single-wise) thus far, as we see as song that though not really written about the current events of 2020, still feels poignant and ever-fitting for such a time as this. ‘Standing With You’ is a song about standing next to someone else who has fallen- being there for someone who has just opened up to you, about things personal to them, and the demons that they battle with, maybe even on a daily basis. ‘Standing With You’ has a similar message and vibe to the country-esque Chissy Metz-led ‘I’m Standing With You’ that shot to stardom last year- this year’s Guy Sebastian-version, is ever impactful, and is in fact needed in this time where chaos and uncertainty reign supreme. Yes, we live in a time that is unprecedented, and has never happened before, and will never happen again after. COVID-19, the riots and protests around the world, Black Lives Matter, the U.S. election; all these events coming together in 2020, means that this song about standing with someone not because of anything other than it is the right thing to do, is something we all need to hear right now. To stand with someone doesn’t always mean to blurt out answers we may often believe to be true in such situations. Just because we believe something to be true, or we think we’ve found a way for someone we’re standing with, to jump out of a pit, doesn’t mean that we should speak without consideration of the other. We sit with them, we mourn with them, we are in the same place as them, asking them if they are ok, putting aside our own agendas and preconceived ideas of what we believe to be right in that moment. ‘Standing with You’ offers a person hope, that the one declaring such a song is willing to place aside all the urges to correct, to fix something, and to just be there for the person, even if it is uncomfortable, even if it is a little unsettling. We may have the answers, but it is when we are in relationship with the other, and truly know them and love them without any expectation, then we can offer our advice and wisdom, as we understand that often what we want to say to them is just that- advice and wisdom. For all we can do is just be there for the people in need and love them as Jesus loved us. Then everything else will fall into place, even much more fittingly than we ourselves can even imagine.
Throughout the rest of the album, we see Guy unpack a myriad of themes and messages, relevant and prevalent to the society of today, as we’re reminded of the gravity of the time of 2020, and songs that speak to our soul about things we may often forget about in this hustle and bustle and the busyness of today. ‘Believer’, track 2 on the album, speaks about this time in your life that everyone goes through, where you experience self-doubt, or you wonder what life would be like for another person if you walk away from the friendship/relationship- in a way where you think in that particular moment, you have nothing valuable to give. ‘Believer’ is a song that attempts to squash all the negativity and doubt you may have about yourself, as we’re reminded that there isn’t a standard we all should aspire to in order to be loved- we’re just loved by our family and friends just because. ‘I’m Your Man’, the lone song not written by Guy on this album, is a soulful percussion driven track about the reassurance of dependency and reliability as Guy the persona sings to another who may be down on their luck and is needing someone- romantic or otherwise, to stick with them, giving them a ‘winning hand’ in their circumstances and situations; while ‘Only Thing Missing’, a song written in isolation during COVID-19, speaks about all the things that you can do during times of isolation- having the fun with immediate family, and relaxing and chilling in your house, but the thing that’s missing is the connection and friendship with people face-to-face. A song that reminds us of the importance of sharing life experience with friends who can speak into our lives in a positive and real way; Guy continues to present themes of hope, joy, struggles and fun- ‘Love on Display’, a soul inspired track full of piano undertones, presents this theme of showcasing love and things and people we are proud of. We’re reminded through this track that if we believe to have a love- for our friends, family and even for God (and even a love from God to us) that we believe to be shared with people; then we ought to display it with pride and in a way that people know where our source of happiness and joy comes from.
‘Who I Love’ is a song about fighting for the ones you love, when you’re in difficult marital times, reminding the other partner you’re with, about all the reasons why you wish to stick it out in the relationship as long as you can; while ‘In a World’, featuring Zimbabwean female gymnast (and singer-songwriter) Shungudzo, is a timely reminder that we need to be praying, down on our knees hoping for a world for us (and for our children) to be in that leaves behind all the hate and the disillusionment, and champions honesty, love without condition, and a unity that travels far beyond, colours, creeds and socioeconomic statuses. In essence, ‘In a World’ is a longing for heaven to come down to earth and to pray for a time where God can restore all the things that have been left broken, to mend what was once shattered, and to make right things that have been scattered for so long. ‘Let Me Drink’, a fun song after the heaviness of ‘In a World’, features the mowtown/soul/gospel choir of The HamilTones (and a saxophone) as Guy presents a situation where the worker of the family (mum or dad or even both) wants to relax and have a drink at the end of the hard days work (a sort-of modern day version of ‘Hard Days Night’ by The Beatles), while the albums ends with vulnerability in the poignant track of ‘If He Won’t’, juxtaposed against the fun and playful ‘Fantasize’. The former is a song about a ‘knight in shining armour’ singing to a girl, possibly in an abusive relationship, reminding her that she is loved, and that he can treat her well and as she should, as opposed to the person that she is currently with, while the latter, perhaps one of the most sensual songs Guy has recorded, is a track, presumably written for his wife, is one where the persona is longing for a physical connection of another, rather than just a fantasy in their head, a reminder to each of us that often, to not at least voice what is going on in our heads (our projections, ‘fantasies’, longings and such) can be a detrimental thing to ourselves and people around us. Hopefully through this track, as intimate as it is, people can find the courage to delve deeper in connection with people than before, as we realise that we are made for connection with other people, on a friendship level, all the way up to a spousal level as well!
Guy Sebastian. Family man. Husband to Jules and father to two kids. A judge on both The Voice and the X Factor at different times of his life. A singer-songwriter who has had plenty of success over the years. Winner of Australian Idol Season 1. But above all that, he’s just a guy who’s given to us songs of hope and encouragement, and songs of laughter and joyous fun. Yes, he’s livened up the judging panel of both the X Factor and The Voice with his frank honesty and his calm sense-of-self, as he brings out contestants from their shells on the show, but when it comes down to it, Guy’s passion to see other people do well in their own careers, all the while furthering his own by creating songs that speak more on a heart-to-heart level; ought to be commended. This is what will continue to make Guy more and more influential. Will he be big in America in the future? Probably not. And maybe that’s ok. Because influential and famous aren’t the same, and Guy, though not that famous on a global scale, is nevertheless influential where he is. An artist that’ll continue to make his mark on music wherever he goes, his unveiling of T.R.U.T.H. and songs like ‘Standing With You’, ‘Love on Display’ and ‘In a World’, are what has made this Aussie artist one of my favourites, and must-listen if you’re a fan of Aussie artists like Delta Goodrem or John Farnham, or if you love pop artists with an inspirational edge, like Matthew West or the Newsboys. Well done Guy for such a powerful album, and one that I’m sure will become a collection of anthems for many in 2020. Kudos for delivering an album so personal into the Apple Music-verse, there’s hoping and praying the Lord will continue to use T.R.U.T.H. and the rest of Guy’s discography, for our good and His glory.
3 songs to listen to: Standing With You, Choir, Before I Go
RIYL: Delta Goodrem, Johnny Farnham, Newsboys, Matthew West, Kelly Clarkson