Fair Trade Services
Release Date: October 30th 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
John Tibbs– Dead Man Walking EP (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Silver In Stone
- Dead Man Walking (feat. Ellie Holcomb)
- Run Wild
- Love Stands Tall
Audio Adrenaline, Hawk Nelson, Phil Wickham, Mark Schultz, Sara Groves, The Afters, Citizen Way, Newsboys, MercyMe, Laura Story, Phillips Craig And Dean…Fair Trade Services currently have a pretty musically and lyrically diverse artist roster. With many of these aforementioned artists releasing albums that were much loved by critics and listeners, as well as critically acclaimed and popular; it’s time for yet another former independent singer/songwriter to join the ranks of being a signed artists. John Tibbs, who previously toured with the Newsboys earlier this year on their “We Believe…God’s Not Dead Tour”; has joined the Fair Trade Services family, and is set to release his debut EP Dead Man Walking next week. With the 5 song EP able to be streamed in full for a limited time on New Release Tuesday; let’s dive in to see how John’s personal and heartfelt music feels and sounds like, and whether listeners can resonate with any of the material.
Starting off with the guitar led energetic rocker “Silver In Stone”, John emphatically and passionately creates a semi country mid-tempo ballad, and belts out in distinctive and engaging vocals that God is with him always, moulding and shaping us to be more like Him. Reminding us that ‘…every time it seems impossible, but You still find a way to walk me through the darkest night…’, John relays that God is reliable, can be trusted, and that He can make something beautiful out of ashes and out of something not that beautiful. With the metaphor of the song being how the legendary King Arthur pulled the sword from the stone, and how God can pull the best parts of our life, separating them from the rubble; I am marvelled at the fact that God loves us so much to go to extreme lengths to make sure that the silver in our lives was separated from the stone. Well done John for a motivational EP opener setting the tone for the rest of the album.
“Abraham”, a weird title for a melody, is driven by keys and vibrant electric guitar, and is another mid-tempo rocker at heart, as John fervently and with intense joy outlines how the God of Abraham is all we need to live, and it is through Him, and only through Him that we are saved. Not by anything else. And as John stresses this point in the chorus, that to be a Christian, ‘…it’s not where you been, it’s not what your eyes have seen, it’s not who you are or what you’re becoming, it’s not what you say, it’s not what your hands have held, it’s the grace of God who makes this fallen place whole…’, John earnestly shows us that only God can restore us into the people He wants us to be- not anyone else. Carrying on from the theme of God making us whole, is the hymn like mid-tempo keys led ballad and title track “Dead Man Walking”, featuring Ellie Holcomb on backing vocals. Written by independent singer/songwriter Erik Nieder, there’s a sense of urgency and intensity here that seems to be heightened on this track, as John and Ellie remind us of Jesus’ saving blood, death and resurrection, and what that means for how we live this life on earth. As we are presented with the notion that we are dead men and women, walking through life without a purpose, until we meet Jesus and become alive; John’s vibrant melody is sure to go big on radio this year and next year, and hopefully this will be the track that launches John’s music career, as well as Erik’s!
I initially thought that “Run Wild” was a cover of for KING & COUNTRY’s smash hit from last year, however the guitar led synth driven 80’s themed danceable anthem is in fact an original song, yet thematically is similar in a sense- the song speaks about asking God to run wild in our souls, and ignite a passion in us so big and large that we cannot help but be on fire for Jesus, telling others around us about His love for us, and the things He’s done in our lives! While the final song on the EP (yep, the batch of 5 songs ends before I can truly appreciate just how great a songwriter and singer John is!), “Love Stands Tall” vividly depicts the qualities that God’s love is, a modern retelling of 1 Corinthians 13 if you will. As John eloquently reminds us in the chorus that true love means ‘…to rise above it all, swim out in the deep, climb up any mountain even when it’s steep, surrender all my weakness, give You all my faults…’, it is further on in the song where John relays that ‘…even when my faith is small, Love stands tall…’ that I take notice. God’s love isn’t judgmental or unforgiving, in fact when we doubt or are in a tight spot, God is there. That’s why He can be relied upon, and John Tibbs’ emphatic and hard hitting EP, which encapsulates the love of God and our love for Him quite nicely, is sure to leave a mark on CCM and worship industries alike.
“…sometimes we exist on this earth in chains-it could be an addiction, guilt, anxiety, or even having a hard time talking. Dead Man Walking is a song that speaks into the fact that Jesus came to change all of that, to take our chains and toss them aside so you and I can be the people He’s created us to be and have the Hope He’s given us-to experience chance after chance after chance…” John Tibbs’ debut EP has me eager in anticipation for his forthcoming full length album in 2016, and with plenty of exposure to the CCM market over the past year or so, he may already be known in some households. Are you intrigued by Dead Man Walking? Are you going to listen to John Tibbs’ music purely because you love Erik Nieder’s original version? Check out the album on NRT, and let me know your thoughts! I hope you like the EP, as John’s music is some of the most vulnerable and emotional songs I have heard in a long time!
3 songs to listen to: Dead Man Walking, Run Wild, Love Stands Tall
RIYL: Aaron Gillespie, Kutless, Jeremy Camp, Matthew West