Release Date: March 20th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Remind Me You’re Here
- Fight For You
- New Song (feat. Blanca)
- Hard Times Prelude
Jason Gray, quite possibly one of Christian music’s most honest and heartfelt singer/songwriters, has had quite a journey, personal and musical, to get to the point he is in today. From being a stutterer (and still currently) to changing his last name from ‘Gay’ to ‘Gray’ in order to kick-start his music career; it has been his lyrical poignancy in quite possibly all of his songs to date that makes Jason possess an ability like no other, to write songs that are able to unveil his own vulnerabilities without any attack or stigma, all the while weaving into the songs a grace that reminds us all that amidst the guilt, shame, pain and hurt, God is still there. Songs like ‘Nothing Is Wasted’, ‘More Like Falling in Love’, ‘I Am New’ and ‘Remind Me Who I Am’ show us the comfort we need, that God redeems us continuously each day from the circumstances and events we are in. His 2018 EP The Kipper Gray Sessions, was a collaboration between Jason and his son Kipper, and was unveiled to be one of 2018’s most lyrically rich and musically enveloping (encapsulating a myriad of musical styles within the confines of the 5 tracks) EPs- the EP as a whole embodied themes of community, individuality, alongside embracing the journey instead of longing for the end point at a quicker time frame; as Jason brought with the 5 songs, musical arrangements that further asserts his presence as an underrated artist in today’s Christian music society. Which brings me here to 2019, where Jason unveiled to us another offering of music. This time it’s a collection of songs, split up into three. With the whole entire project titled as Order Disorder Reorder and may probably release at a later date in 2020, Jason gave to us Order EP in August 2019, while Disorder EP just released last week.
There is a smart process in releasing a set of songs in 3 parts. The journey of being in the cycle of order, disorder and reorder is often a process that can take years for us, and thus, having the 15 track album split into three and each ‘volume’ focusing on one theme and letting that sink in, in a reflective way, for us, is the most logical. Jason himself is a powerful and fantastic lyricist, and thus, having time between volumes of his project I reckon will be a good thing, as we tap into his lyrics and reflect upon the themes presented in each of the 5 songs, understanding that the Christian is often full of twists and turns, and that in the end, we’ll look back and see the purpose of the windiness. Until then, Jason has given us these songs to hopefully sing in our own stories of order-disorder-reorder. Disorder EP released last week, and upon the heels of Order EP that featured standouts songs like ‘I’m Gonna Let It Go’, ‘Order Disorder Reorder’ and a re-worked ‘Becoming’, originally from The Kipper Gray Sessions. And now here we are in 2020, given another glimpse into the structure of Order Disorder Reorder with the collection of songs in Disorder– 6 melodies that weave together themes of heartache and brokenness, all the while reminding us that often disorder is as much needed in our lives as order and reorder.
‘Remind Me You’re Here’ the song is the first single from the EP that was unveiled to us in November 2019. The song itself solidifies the theme of the whole new EP, that sometimes in our lives, hopes are dashed, and things don’t always come to fruition as they should. As Jason himself relays about what he believes is the essence of this EP in general- ‘…disorder is when our plan falls apart; when we find we weren’t as in control as we thought we were. Reminded of our vulnerability, we are broken down and opened up enough to meet with God in a profound way. We think we want answers when the catastrophes of life hit, but the story of Job reminds us that an answer isn’t always what we need or even desire the most. Answers rarely—if ever—bring healing. Rather, to experience the presence of God in the midst of our suffering is very healing. Our questions burn away like fog at sunrise and in their place comes the deep sense that we are held…’ It is in this quote that I can appreciate Jason’s writing style and understand that such a song as ‘Remind Me You’re Here’ is as poignant as it is necessary for people to hear. The song itself? It is indeed a reminder, that often the reasons and answers as to why certain things happen in our lives won’t ever give us the full healing we desire- the reason doesn’t wipe away the pain, the hurt, the tears, whether we know fully what the Lord is doing behind the scenes or not, is beside the point. We still hurt, regardless. What we will need is the Lord’s presence near, and the comfort and the help of our family and friends in this time in need. It is in hindsight that we can see and understand what has been happening in our lives up until this point, but when we’re in the thick of it, we don’t need any rational way of justifying why God let a certain thing happen or didn’t. We don’t need justification. But we do need to be held, by our Father, to know that everything will work out in the end, even if we can’t see it now. ‘Remind Me You’re Here’ is a reminder of this, that ‘…I won’t ask You for reasons cause a reason can’t wipe away tears, no, I don’t need all the answers, just be here beside me, Father, remind me You’re here…’
Throughout the rest of the EP, Jason continues to impart to us themes of hope and encouragement as this collection of songs becomes much more relevant and relatable given the current situation we all are facing at the moment around the world with the rapid spread of COVID-19. ‘Through’ takes a sobering look at mountains (metaphorical) in our own lives, and remind us all that often, the only way out of a situation or circumstance, or whatever mountain we’re facing; is through it. No going around it, no turning around and never facing it in the first place; often the learning and the building-up-of-character happens when we face the difficulty head-on, and toiling through the darkness, knowing that it is the Lord right beside us that will help us through, and it is that fact, and that fact alone that ought to give us all the comfort we need, especially now in this current crisis. ‘Through’ states the fact that situations and circumstances don’t seem like as much of a disaster as we think, when Christ goes before us and leads the way. ‘Honesty’ is perhaps one of the most honest songs Jason has ever written and recorded to date, as in the midst of such a song as this, Jason imparts a theme that we as humans often brush under the rug- being honest with God, about everything, even our hurts, unmet expectations, our doubt, anger and bitterness. God can handle it, and our honesty when we share our feelings to Him about things or even feelings towards Him, will bring to us freedom as we understand that it is in the way of being truly honest, to God and with ourselves, that the weight of shame and the burden of perfection can be truly lifted from our lives. ‘Fight For You’ implores the fact that God will fight for us, that we don’t need to do anything in our strength, to get Him to fight for us, or we don’t have to do anything in our strength, believing that He may not fight for us and we have to do it all alone. God will fight on our behalf when we can’t, and He fights for us anyway- Jason’s track is just a reminder of this very truth that often is overlooked in the sea of overwhelming panic and uncertainty. The EP then ends with ‘New Song (feat. Blanca)’ and ‘Hard Times Prelude’, the former being a duet between Jason and Blanca, and about how we are longing for ‘new’ songs to sing in different circumstances in our lives, and the latter a 1 minute track that is a prelude of perhaps a song called ‘Hard Times’ that could be present on Reorder EP later on during the year. The prelude itself is a reminder that it is indeed the hard times that teaches the person the most, and that ‘…I believe that I’m where You want me, I can see from the place You brought me, there’s life in the light of what the hard times taught me…’
‘…I’ve believed the themes of “Order Disorder Reorder” were relevant and hoped that releasing the record in three parts over the course of a year would be meaningful, but who could’ve predicted the release date for “Disorder” that we decided 6 months ago would end up being SO relevant—the very week our whole world is upended by a microscopic virus that is casting a tall shadow over all that we care about? The first track, “Through,” opens with: “I see the trouble standing before me like a mountain, it’s like a mountain, my spirit trembles under its shadow, I can’t escape it, Lord help me face it. I need You to lead me through, walking before me, behind and beside me, I’m following You, the only way out is if You lead me through…” If there’s anything we’ve learned over the last week, it’s that life will bring some storms that we just can’t hide from. Sometimes the only way out is through. But as a person of faith, I believe that we don’t face it alone. I wrote the songs of “Disorder” hoping they could serve as handrails for people to hold on to in the storms of life, to help steady them as they walk through their difficulty on their way to renewal and “reorder” on the other side. I hope you find these songs a meaningful, hopeful, and steady companion on your own journey of transformation through order, disorder, and reorder—maybe now more than ever…’
Even though Jason is still not necessarily the most recognised or even the most popular artist within the ranks of CCM currently (artists like Chris Tomlin, Natalie Grant, Francesca Battistelli and Matthew West receive much more radio airplay than Jason), Jason nevertheless forges on, as a songwriter whose songs have become the cornerstone of change in many people’s lives around the world, inclusive of mine. On the same roster as artists like Andrew Peterson, Jordan Feliz, Lauren Daigle, Unspoken, Jonny Diaz and North Point InsideOut, to name a few; Jason continues to anchor the roster, in both a songwriting and lyrical perspective, and his previous EP Order and new EP Disorder are both testaments of this. Order EP was a perfect start to the Order Disorder Reorder music project process and Disorder comes at a very ironic time in today’s global history with the coronavirus. Nevertheless, songs on this EP are ever the more poignant and heartfelt as we apply these themes and what the Lord is saying to our current situation at hand. In light of the relevance of this EP, Disorder stands tall to become one of the most compelling and introspective releases (of both EP or album) of 2020 thus far. Well done Jason for these songs, here’s hoping and praying that people can be impacted and influenced in a positive way by the music, during this sombre and trying time!
3 songs to listen to: Remind Me You’re Here, New Song, Through
RIYL: Andrew Peterson, Bebo Norman, Nichole Nordeman, Steven Curtis Chapman