Capitol Christian Music Group
Release Date: September 10th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Jeremy Camp – When You Speak (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Can’t Take Away
- You See Me
- Getting Started
- One Desire
- Steady Me
- When You Speak
- No Rain
- Here With You
- What Love Has Done
- Break Your Promises
- Anxious Heart
- This Too Shall Pass
Jeremy Camp has been a seasoned veteran within the CCM/rock/pop music industry for quite some time. Releasing his first studio album Stay way back in 2002, and then releasing studio albums at a steady pace since then, he as become a mainstay on Christian radio and has given to us songs that have filled the homes and hearts of people all around the world- songs like ‘I Still Believe’, ‘Walk By Faith’, ‘Right Here’, ‘Take Me Back’, ‘Speaking Louder Than Before’, ‘Healing Hand of God’, ‘Reckless’, ‘The Way’, ‘My God’, ‘Christ in Me’, ‘Dead Man Walking’ and ‘Word of Life’, and many, many more. Yes, his musical genre has changed throughout the years, but nevertheless, no one can deny his passion and heart to see music change lives through encouragement and releasing the power of God’s love through the songs he sings and delivers. Now here we are in 2021. Upon the release of the very carefully crafted 2019 album The Story’s Not Over (alongside the album’s deluxe edition, released in 2020), as well as the emotive and heartfelt autobiographical movie I Still Believe starring Riverdale star KJ Apa and Britt Robertson (and distributed through the Erwin Brothers, the same duo who had their hand in the powerful and emotive I Can Only Imagine a few years back), we see Jeremy again, this time unveiling his brand-new studio album When You Speak, consisting of Jeremy’s first radio single from the album…you guessed it, titled ‘When You Speak’!
Let me just say from the outset that I love Jeremy Camp and his music on the whole. His career has delivered standout hits and have always proved to us that someone who is as steadfast in his faith as Jeremy, can sustain an industry that is, for a blunter term, tired and uninspired. CCM has always been a mixed bag- you have artists that seem to press the musical envelope and provide uniquely artistic creations that seem to do well at both a radio level, and a creative mindset to- artists like needtobreathe, Tenth Avenue North, Matthew West, Zach Williams, MercyMe, Jason Gray and Third Day…but then there are a few artists that seem to provide to us, albums where we see the artist themselves giving us something that we can often deem as ‘middle-of-the-road’. Nothing against the artists themselves, but unfortunately, they would fall into the cookie-cutter CCM melodies that maybe they themselves would’ve liked to avoid when they went into CCM in the first place (I mean, certain songs would be good on each album, but rarely would each album nowadays stand out)- artists like Big Daddy Weave, Sidewalk Prophets, Kutless, Sanctus Real…and unfortunately I’d add Jeremy himself to that category as well. Whilst he still has standout hits like ‘I Still Believe’, ‘Right Here’ and ‘There Would Be a Day’, now in 2021, he has created an album that while objectively stands Biblically sound and lyrically impactful, still falls into the trap of being a ‘trademark’ CCM album that does little to distinguish Jeremy himself compared to his contemporaries- Sidewalk Prophets and Big Daddy Weave. I guess if I can actually imagine either Mike Weaver or Dave Frey singing these songs on When You Speak with ease- that’s not a good sign, is it?
This is not a Jeremy Camp-bashing session. Nor do I want it to be. Jeremy has delivered good songs here on this album- songs like ‘Steady Me’, ‘When You Speak’, even the radio-friendly ‘Here With You’ stands out from amongst the rest, and album opener ‘Can’t Take Away’ offers to us, something different that keeps the listener interested a little- if only for that particular song and nothing else. However, I’ve found that with every passing album, Jeremy’s ability to create an album that stands out- not only amongst other albums within his whole career; but stands out amongst all CCM albums releases of that particular year, seems to be becoming less, and less, and less. Jeremy’s heart for Jesus is tremendous, and yet I’ve found that with his albums of late, the songs on his albums are becoming less distinguishable between each other. That’s not to say that Jeremy’s songs in isolation, in and of themselves, aren’t good whatsoever. But when there’s plenty of CCM artists out there, and there’s a plethora of songs that release from week to week, there needs to be some kind of distinguishing factor that makes me want to listen to Jeremy’s music above everyone elses…and there unfortunately isn’t any driving force of late that will cause me to become excited by a Jeremy Camp album, let alone this album. Sure, I was quietly intrigued and interested in When You Speak– hearing the single ‘When You Speak’ did peak my interest a little bit, even though the song itself was littered with looping percussion, it did do enough for me to be interested in Jeremy’s music- for real: because apart from Jeremy’s 2015 album I Will Follow, I haven’t really been as invested in Jeremy’s songs as I have around a decade ago. Sure, there’s some songs here and there that I’ve enjoyed of late- ‘Keep Me In The Moment’, ‘The Answer’, ‘Heaven’s Shore’, ‘Out of My Hands’ and ‘My Defender’, but in a holistic sense…well, let’s just say that the JesusFreakHideout.com review of Jeremy’s new album, unfortunately (and I really wish it wouldn’t to be like this!) what I feel about Jeremy’s album as well.
I wish it was not like this, but it is. Jeremy’s album just doesn’t really do it for me. Maybe I can enjoy the album in the near future, but as of right now, only a few songs stick out- namely ‘Can’t Take Away’, which speaks of how the world can’t take away what Jesus gives to us; ‘One Desire’, a radio-esque melody about asking the Lord to be our one desire (and thereby praying that everything else falls away so that He can satisfy our ever want and need), ‘Steady Me’ (my favourite song on When You Speak, and a song that could potentially be sung in church), ‘Here With You’, a perfect radio single #2 speaking about how God is here with us weeping as we travel through our trials, and title track ‘When You Speak’, an energetic, upbeat song that speaks about how ‘…when You speak, I’m found in the sound of ‘peace be still’, the wind and the waves bow to Your will, You drown my fear with a love more real than anything, anything I feel, when You speak…’
‘…I remember that feeling I had — ‘I just want to get through this. I can’t wait to get through this [the pandemic]’…[but then God was saying something] – ‘Jeremy, I want to get through to you during this. I want to teach you things during this. You have to be willing to listen and not just try to get through it.’ It was kind of a shift of mindset for me. It really was such a beautiful picture of allowing God to do the deep work in our hearts that we all need to do. I know that I need some deep work in my heart. I realized that when you allow God to speak to your heart, what flourishes and what comes out is such life and such joy and hope and peace. All of those things come out when you let the Lord speak to your heart and whatever circumstance you’re in…I think one of the things that you realize is, I can’t control this. It’s daily saying, ‘OK God, I’m going to trust you. I’m not going to try to understand this, because I don’t understand it. I don’t understand, still, what’s happening.’ And He says, ‘I’ll direct you’. God always says, ‘I’m sufficient for all your needs. I’m sufficient in every circumstance. [The Apostle] Paul says, ‘I’m content in every circumstance.’ I think God has to teach us, and we have to learn to be content…’
‘…Our creature comforts have been completely obliterated for the good. And I think that we need to realize for one, how blessed we are, but how over-abundance of things that we have and how much we have kind of bought into the American dream. I think we’ve lost the edge of denying ourselves, picking up our cross daily. We’ve lost that edge, and I don’t want to lose that edge. I know that I’ve had many moments of losing that edge, where I feel like I’m just getting super comfortable, and God continues to challenge me. I think we need to be challenged, and not forget the whole Gospel. As we follow Jesus, we deny ourselves. I want people to get that craving, like they realize, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve been so thirsty and so in need of a deeper walk with Jesus,’ and that’s the craving of their heart, and they start pursuing that. That’s my heart’s desire…God sees the whole picture; so, this whole situation that we’re going through, He sees the whole thing from beginning to end. Our face is kind of shoved up against it, so we don’t really see what’s really happening. We might get tidbits of it or a piece of it, but not truly the full picture. I think that you just have to trust that He sees the picture, and that He actually knows what’s best and that He is in control, and He loves us. I think that we are continuing to learn to trust and continuing to learn that He’s in control. Know that He has the whole picture in mind and that He is sufficient and provides all that we need in the midst of our trials…’
Jeremy’s new album is definitely a mixed bag- there’s album highlights, like the ones I aforementioned previously. And the rest doesn’t really click for me. Not to say that Jeremy’s music on the whole isn’t Biblically sound- it is. It so is. And it is in these two quotes above that I’ve thoroughly respected Jeremy and his faith all the more. In fact, if you want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt where Jeremy stands with his faith, check out the youtube video where Jeremy (and his wife Adie) discusses the state of CCM today, with fellow Christian musicians John and Korey Cooper of the band Skillet. Now that is a good video to watch; and open up a few things to discuss about Christianity and the church. But as of right now with his music- there’s a few songs here and there on each album that I gravitate to, but by and large, Jeremy’s last few albums, inclusive of this one, is becoming like how I feel about Hillsong’s music now- inspirational and enjoyable for the die-hard fans, but for the general casual listener…not so much. Now I hope that I can connect more with Jeremy’s songs in the future, or he decides to create music that is much more engaging than the music he’s doing right now (or a combination of both).
But regardless of whether he changes his musical style or not, one cannot deny the passionate enthusiasm that Jeremy displays with regards to his faith in Christ. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll still continue to deliver music to his niche of people who love his music and his albums to date. And maybe I’m just not one of his die-hard fans at the moment. And that’s ok. I’ve respected Jeremy’s career thus far, and that is not going to stop. I’ll just check out his albums I Will Follow, Speaking Louder Than Before, Beyond Measure and Restored in the upcoming weeks and months ahead. And songs like ‘Keep Me In the Moment’, ‘My God’, ‘Come Alive’, ‘Word of Life’ and ‘Heaven’s Shore’, for good measure. Maybe a well-needed return to the proverbial rock album for the next album offering? Whatever Jeremy decides, his mark on CCM will forever be remembered as one of the most respected. Well done Jeremy, for the songs ‘Steady Me’, ‘One Desire’, ‘When You Speak’, ‘Here With You’ and ‘Can’t Take Away’, hoping that I can enjoy the rest of the album as the months continue to progress.
3 songs to listen to: Steady Me, Here With You, When You Speak
RIYL: Kutless, Big Daddy Weave, Building 429, Colton Dixon, The Afters, Sidewalk Prophets