Jillian Edwards / Tone Tree Music
Release Date: May 15th 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Whisper Hymn
- But I Know You
- Heaven’s Eyes
- Weak, Proudly
- Mighty God
Jillian Anita Chapman. Professionally known as Jillian Edwards. An American singer-songwriter primarily drawing from the genres and musical realms of indie folk/pop. Wife of Will Chapman, 1/3rd of indie band Colony House, and son of CCM powerhouse singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. Jillian’s career thus far has included a myriad of EP’s her most recent one- aside from Meadow, has been in 2014 with her unveiling of Daydream, as this in fact is one such singer-songwriter to look out for in the upcoming weeks/months ahead. On the music scene since 2009, Jillian’s powerful melodies and vocals reminding me of artists like Ellie Holcomb, Bethany Dillon or Lindsay McCaul, is what propelled her album Daydream into being one of my favourite easy-listening adult-contemporary albums of 2014. Now back in 2020 with another musical offering of all-original material (after her highly successful and well-received 2016 cover album aptly titled Covers); this 31 y.o. is mature lyrically and musically beyond her years, making this new 2020 EP one of my favourite standouts of 2020 thus far, alongside others like Colton Dixon EP (Colton Dixon), The Lost Demos EP (TobyMac), Leanna Crawford EP (Leanna Crawford), Goodness of God EP (Jason Ingram) and Disorder EP (Jason Gray); to name a few. Using her ethereal voice and acoustic guitars and keyboards to bring her songs to life so that they are to be enjoyed by lovers of CCM, mainstream or both; this particular album just released is a reminder of her ever-present and constant faith that she has, expressing her own beliefs in a way that I’m sure even non-believers can enjoy this type of music and not feel threatened, in a way. Meadows is a great way to begin a lazy day if you’re not working, a collection of songs to play on the weekend, and a reminder that Christian music doesn’t always have to follow the same radio format all the time. Meadow involves a lot of heartfelt themes, and issues that a lot of churches, individuals and communities need to discuss as the weeks and months roll on- as Jillian herself gives people a platform to launch from as these songs are heard and struck to the heart of what being in a meadow really means for someone’s hope and peace- as we realise that whether we’re in the meadows or valleys, we understand that God is still with us- always!
While a lot of Jillian’s previous work has been more focused upon delivering lyrics that can stretch and impact a wide array of people from all walks of life and from all parts on the ‘faith’ spectrum, Jillian’s latest collection of tracks have more of a Christian-faith lining, as Jillian gives us a glimpse into what she believes, a reminder that belief and what we know to be true, is something we need to seek for ourselves, especially during this pandemic coronavirus season. Jillian’s songs have given people comfort over the years, and this is nothing different when it comes to Meadow as well. ‘Heaven’s Eyes’ is the first track unveiled to us in April 2020. A prominently piano-driven melody, with the addition of Jillian’s soothing ethereal vocals, we are met with the truths of how Jillian herself is wanting assurance and certainty, asking God above to ‘…speak over me, tell me again that I’m someone you love, let it sink in, tell me a million times, who I am in heaven’s eyes, so I’m letting go of all other names that I gave myself when I heard You say, come and find yourself in heaven’s eyes…’ A gentle prodding to ask the Lord to reveal to us our own worth and love, it is certainly in our nature to always want conformation on something that we already have received and been given from the start, and yet, we still want to know if God loves us, and our own treasured worth of who we are in the eyes and sight of heaven. ‘Heaven’s Eyes’ is a song that gives us all comfort, especially during this uncertain time, and is a great song for Jillian to release as a first-single. ‘But I Know You’ is the next track given to us prior to the EP releasing, and again with a prominent piano undertone, Jillian presents a theme of God’s goodness through this track- and how we may never know the mystery of why God does the things He does- we may not understand the purpose in the pain of our situations, nor we may not understand the difficulties of the situations we’re facing right now. Yet we know Jesus, and know that He still sits on the throne regardless of circumstances happening around us. We know what He is capable of, and we know He will weave whatever circumstance in our lives to our good and His glory. And thus, this is a song to declare when we don’t know, when we are ok to admit that we don’t have things figured out- but we do know God in all His sovereignty, and it is in this moment of realisation that we can follow Christ, stepping one foot in front of another through the great unknown, declaring through it all that ‘…I am held in Your love and You won’t let go, I know you and that’s all that I need to know…’
Throughout the rest of the EP, Jillian continues to impart to us themes of lyrical richness as this collection of songs continues to rise the ranks of being one of my favourite EP’s of 2020 thus far. ‘Meadow’, the first full-length song after the short track ‘Whisper Hymn’ (standing at 44 seconds), presents a theme of basking in the grace of God’s presence, and acknowledging that His love and undeserving favour is something that we need to sit in and reflect upon, really understanding what this love is really about, something that we know we can’t earn, but is given to us nonetheless, and that all we have to do is to know that this gift is for us, repent of what we have been doing before that we know is not of Christ, and to accept this gift of grace, living like we have been changed from the inside out for the rest of our days. ‘Meadow’ uses the metaphor of God’ s love, as being a meadow for us to explore, as we deeply dive into the love of God and always find things that are undiscovered times and times before. ‘Trusted’ continues with the backdrop of acoustic guitars and light keyboards, as Jillian imparts this time of resting in the arms of the Lord, and trusting that the things of this world are held in the palms of His hands, that He can sort out things that we have often tried to fix with human strength. ‘Trusted’ is about letting go of our control over things, and trusting that whatever happens, He still holds us close as He gives us a space for us to laugh, cry, grieve and triumph, whatever the case of the situation. ‘Weak Proudly’ can be a little dichotomous for a title of a song, but the understanding of it cannot be any more clearer- this is the moment where we admit that have never been that strong in it all- we’ve always needed help of some kind during this life. And it’s ok to be weak sometimes. Because it is when we are weak that we are humble, that we know that there is someone else out there who is stronger, who can help, who doesn’t want us or even require us to be the ‘strong’ people we masquerade as. To be proudly weak is to have a sense of always being a work-in-progress, to understand that when we are at the end of ourselves (shudder to think it can even get to that stage), we can be rid of all the false idols we’ve held on so dear, and grasp the reality that sometimes God needs to let us go that skin-and-bones state so that He can build in us something that is greater than it was before. The EP then finishes with ‘Mighty God’, an album ender with light percussion, where Jillian herself delivers a worshipful track where she declares God’s might (in a similar way to Hillsong’s ‘Mighty to Save’) and then proceeds to remind us that we are held in the palms of His hands, even if we cannot see it or even believe it ourselves!
Jillian’s new EP, standing at 6 tracks (the first track is an uber-short one standing at 44 seconds) is definitely worth the listen and purchase (if you enjoy artists like Bethany Dillon or Sixpence None the Richer). Highlighting the singer/songwriter/acoustic genre that can often be different and therefore shunned compared to the relatively popular CCM; Meadow is a great from-left-field project that has skyrocketed into one of my favourite projects, EP or full-length album, of 2020 thus far, as these collection of songs deliver music from an honest, transparent and heartfelt individual. And as I quote from my previous Jillian Edwards 2014 Daydream review that I posted on IndieVisionMusic.com, I can still the same thing about Meadow as well: ‘…despite Jillian not necessarily being a household name, her music is honest, transparent and certainly something out of the box than what listeners are used to from artists who have music on the radio. One of the most authentic and real albums of 2014, Jillian’s heart for writing songs that impact and encourage our hearts is a great part of why I think her music will minister to both the Christian music and mainstream music communities simultaneously in weeks and months to come. A gem of an album, regardless of the genre of music you like…’ Jillian’s work is overlooked and underappreciated- nevertheless, Meadow has given me hope that her songs can at least reach whomever I believe God wants to reach in the upcoming weeks ahead. With standouts like singles ‘Heaven’s Eyes’ and ‘But I Know You’, ‘Trusted’ and ‘Meadow’, to name a few; Jillian’s career from 2009 has, in my opinion, reached a point where her music is certain to bring her to newer heights with songs that showcase her central faith and her assuredly firm stance on her beliefs and where the stands with the creator, regardless of what happens through the circumstances in the midst of the created. Well done Jillian for such a powerful and heartfelt album, this is arguably one of 2020’s most impactful, and a hopeful nomination in the next instalment of the Dove Awards (for the category of Inspirational Album of the Year), whenever that arises!
3 songs to listen to: Meadow, Heaven’s Eyes, Mighty God
RIYL: Ellie Holcomb, Steven Curtis Chapman, Sixpence None the Richer, Ginny Owens, Bethany Dillon, Lindsay McCaul