City Of Peace Records
Release Date: August 21st 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Crazy Faith (movie version)
- Love Has Spoken
- Life is a Gift
- I Know My God
- Forgive Me
- Your Word, My Life
- Crazy Faith (adoption version)
- While I’m Waiting (live)
- Our God Reigns (live)
- As For Me (live)
Recently known for his strong pro stance on adoption, singer/songwriter John Waller has had a music career most artists would dream of. Being recognised and respected for his hit songs and powerful anthemic ballads that bring people hope and let us know that Jesus’ love is boundless and endless; John’s song “While I’m Waiting” was featured in the Alex Kendrick directed and Kirk Cameron acted film Fireproof, while the heartfelt and emotional music video for “As For Me And My House” was nominated for a Dove Award alongside videos from Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North, Chris August, Chris Tomlin and Hawk Nelson (which is pretty good, considering that song was from an independent album!). Even his debut hit song “Still Calls Me Son”, from the 2007 album The Blessing, struck a chord with me- John’s prowess at writing is just as good as a veteran artist like Michael W. Smith or Mark Hall from Casting Crowns. And yet, not that many people listen to his music compared to CCM artists who are signed. Well, now John is back with his new full length album Crazy Faith, via City Of Peace Records, featuring songs from his independent 2014 album Life Is A Gift.
With the theme of caring for the less fortunate, the down-and-outs, the weak, the hurting and the broken a theme carried onto the whole thirteen tracks, probably inspired by the fact that John has nine children himself- some adopted; we are challenged by John to make a positive active difference in this world, either through adopting children, or praying for the people who do, so that kids can know about the God who has adopted us all into His kingdom! With Crazy Faith employing and adopting many different musical genres, there’s something on this album for everyone, as we are met with a special moment of worship to the Almighty. This is an album not to miss out on! And if the music video of “Crazy Faith” is any indication, John’s prowess as a songwriter and a worship leader is one of the best in the industry right now. So let’s dive into why I think the album is so great!
Because of the vast genres encompassed in the album, even though John isn’t an expert at some of the musical avenues he tackles, the delivery and execution of some of these tracks actually turn out quite good. With John presenting us with two versions of “Crazy Faith”, the title track is sung with different lyrics in the music video than previously released in 2014, however the impact of both versions cannot be denied, and both are impacting and compelling. Skilfully singing a moving acoustic ballad about faith in “Crazy Faith” (similar in lyrics to “Yes” from his 2011 album!), the themes of the fruits of the spirit and Godlike qualities start to seep through the words and the music. We are challenged with the acoustic guitar, about the notion of playing it safe, while God may be calling us to an area where we may at first glance think its crazy; as John encourages us to actively move and seek God’s presence.
“Love Has Spoken is the next song, and carries on with the theme of stepping out in faith, as John experiments in the country genre, and singing in a deep raspy voice. God’s love is stated to have been spoken over us, and spoken life abundant as well across the danceable banjo and the mandolin. While it isn’t that crazy to believe that God’s love has spoken prophetically over our lives, it may be crazy to believe at first that God’s called us to an area we’re not familiar in. Yet this might have been God’s plan all along, and as John inspires us to ‘…take crazy faith, so what if it costs everything? I’m stepping out, I’m taking a leap of crazy faith…’, our thought processes remind us that if Moses, Abraham, Noah, Daniel, David, others in the Bible, and even Jesus, said ‘Yes’ to God’s plan, why can’t we? Well done John for these two comforting and equally confronting heartfelt and honest melodies.
The emphatic and majestic stirring anthem “Life Is A Gift” is another favourite of mine, and somewhat anchors the album lyrically and musically. With a light electric guitar introduction, we are reminded in a timely and un-intrusive fashion that our lives are gifts from God to us, and that everything we do in our lives should point back to our Father and Saviour, praising Him for the gift of life that He so freely gave us. Though the song title seems cliché, and sometimes I do roll my eyes at the words of the verses, as John reminds us that ‘…every laugh from a child at play, every breeze from a summer day is of Him, and I know that life is a gift…’; sometimes cliché works in changing people’s lives. Everything we do in our lives is brought back to God’s faithfulness to us time and time again; and John’s anthem of praise to God, our rightly response to God, is a welcome prompt, that as we look around at creation, life on this earth should not be taken for granted, and should be cherished and lived to the full. With strong guitars and a country twang to his voice, we are reminded of what we do not deserve because of our sin, yet also of what we freely receive because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us.
The worshipful “I Know My God”, speaking about hope, certainty and assurance, has John asserting his identity in Jesus Christ, emphatically crying out ‘…I know my God and he will save, I know my God will not delay, hallelujah, hallelujah, oh what a saviour…’; a powerful declaration sure to lift us out of our chairs and into total surrender and praise to our Lord and Saviour! With the essence of this song being where John invites us all to experience God’s love and promises for ourselves; the nearly 5 minute standout and personal highlight, boasts a choir, exquisite instruments such as electronic keys and speaks of the truth that God saves us all the time, even when we think we’re unworthy.
Sonically different to the opening tracks, the mellow acoustic driven prayer “Forgive Me”, is predominately a song of soaking and immersion in God’s presence, a tender prayer that beautifully captures John’s heart for Jesus, as He sings out ‘…I don’t even know why Your mercy never dies, but Jesus I’m glad…’ and asks forgiveness for the things he did and didn’t do that didn’t please God. Essentially, this highlights the extent of God’s love, faithfulness and devotion to each one of us, as He will continually forgive us time and time again no matter how many times we screw up. The epic anthemic like track “Epic” (prophetic name don’t you think?), which takes the music back up a notch, has John singing passionately across emphatic and moving electric guitars and explosive gang vocals, as the bigness and strength of God is conveyed explicitly, with the song easily able to be sung in corporate worship on Sunday mornings! With the majestic chorus exclaiming that ‘…when I survey the world You have made, I lift my voice, You are epic in glory, how awesome in power, galaxies sing majesty and I will join them…’; it’s clear that “Epic” is every sense of the word.
With “Orphan” being a single in early 2014, and a captivating music video being made as a result; the emotional and spine-tingling track speaks about being adopted into God’s kingdom and being made a heir to the throne in the heavenly realm, yet also delves into orphans in the physical realm, reminding me of verses such as James 1:27 and Matthew 25:31-46- this world is littered with children without earthly parents, and “Orphan” encourages us to take an active stand, and to introduce mothers and fathers (or parental figures) into children’s lives, through ways such as adoption, fostering children, sponsoring children who live overseas, and many more.
Though opening up one’s home to children for an extended period of time, may be some people’s calling (like John himself, who has 9 children, and Steven Curtis Chapman, who has 6), others may not feel God calling them to this area and that’s ok. Because as John invites us to hear the words that ‘…Jesus hears the orphan, He is moving heaven and earth, all for one little girl, I heard Jesus calling, “Will you go and rescue her?” All for one little girl, little did she know…we were coming, cause Jesus hears the orphan…’, I am sure that people around the world will pray regardless for kids who need role models in their lives. Probably the most impacting lyrically and thematically in the album; the piano led song hopefully will give us courage to care for the orphans in the way that Jesus has called us to, no matter what it looks like.
“Rain”, a powerful string led declaration with an orchestral like crescendo near the bridge, where John cries out that God reigns forever, and similar in style to the Michael W Smith led “Let It Rain”, the most captivating part of the song is the second bridge where John spontaneously sings out ‘…He shall reign forever and forever…’, truly a masterpiece as we are drawn into a space where can worship Him without any reservations or fear. The album closer “Your Will, My Life” (aside from the three bonus live tracks), is a duet with his sister Laura Waller-Smith, which oozes out confidence and knowledge of the identity that we have in Jesus Christ. Starting off as an acoustic piano driven soft ballad, the obligatory crescendo of the strings, guitars and drums, is anything but, as there is a entrancing bridge- as John sings out ‘…Jesus You’re the Word, and the Word is living, Jesus You’re the Word, and the Word is life…’, we are met with a song that depicts the difference between being living and fully alive. We can live but not be alive, and it is God who breathes life into us, as expounded in a passage in John, where Jesus says that He has come to bring us life and life to the fullest. Something to think about and ponder; John has recorded a powerful and compelling album closer- and what an album full of bountiful treasures and gems it is!
A call to action and an in-your-face guitar rocker/epic anthem as well; the live version of “Our God Reigns Here”, from the bonus portion of the album, starts off with stirring guitars and explosive strumming, as we are immediately immersed into an active reminder that God reigns wherever we are. As John eloquently and passionately commands the devil and all of the emotions and feelings not of God (envy, jealousy, doubt, fear, death etc) to leave in Jesus’ name, because of that eternal fact that God reigns forever and always, we can boldly proclaim that ‘…our God reigns here, our God reigns here, the battle’s won, have no fear, ’cause God reigns here…’. While the song epitomising John’s message of the love of Christ is “While I’m Waiting”., which can be confrontational and controversial at times. We are reminded that we can worship in spite of our circumstances- John has it spot on- that we should worship all the time, regardless of our feelings and emotions, because God is God and He simply is and always will be. With the song giving us a moment of clarity and reason as we worship while we wait for circumstances to arrive, events to transpire and outcomes to be fulfilled; John brilliantly uses the acoustic guitar to accentuate the lyrics of being content in the waiting as we are gently reminded that ‘…I will move ahead bold and confident, taking every step in obedience, while I’m waiting, I will serve You…I’ll be running the race, even while I wait…’! The final melody on this album is “As For Me And My House”, a bold and courageous statement driven by electric guitar, relaying that we will serve the Lord at all times, as we live for Christ, and call on His name for help in resisting temptation, and ensuring we do not fall into the ways of the world.
John Waller’s excellent and inspiring new album Crazy Faith, a standout and favourite album of mine in 2015 so far, contains a vast smorgasbord of topics and issues that John delves into, creating questions and confronting our belief system head on, usually using bible verses to back up all of his songs. Though feeling confronted and challenged may not be what we’d like to feel at the moment, John’s words ultimately solidify my faith and that’s definitely a plus! With his heart for mission, family, and children, being intertwined with his heart for God and bleeding through throughout the whole album; there’s plenty of here for everyone, ranging from pop, CCM, country, and acoustic themed tracks, as John encourages us to live a life of no regrets, and a life for the kingdom of God. Well done John for a thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring album, and hopefully it calls people to action to live a live that pleases God!
3 songs to listen to: I Know My God, Crazy Faith, Your Word My Life
RIYL: Steven Curtis Chapman, Bebo Norman, Casting Crowns, MercyMe