Release Date: April 28th 2015
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Love Has Spoken
- Our God Reigns Here
- While I’m Waiting
- Your Word My Life
- Bless Us And Keep Us
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, his 2014 album Life Is A Gift hopefully changed listeners’ points of view for the better, as personally I think that this fourth album is John’s crowning achievement so far in his career!
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 ten 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! Life Is a Gift is truly a gift, as many genres are infused together to create a special moment of worship to the Almighty, and an album not to be missed out on! And now that I have championed an album already released from John, let’s dive into the noisetrade sampler Five For Free that released earlier this week, in preparation for John’s debut of his music video “Crazy Faith”!
Though “Crazy Faith” is not on the album, the EP starts off with “Love Has Spoken”, from the 2014 album. With John experimenting in the country genre, and singing in a deep raspy voice in “Love Has Spoken” (it was weird hearing John sing out of his comfort zone!), the themes of the fruits of the spirit and Godlike qualities are evident across the words and the music. God’s love is stated to have been spoken over us, and spoken life abundant as well across the danceable banjo and the mandolin; as John encourages us to actively move and seek God’s presence. 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 and relays that ‘…Love has spoken…God is in this Heaven now, and I will soon be in the ground but death will never hold me down…’, our thought processes and actions are sure to come into play and examination- a very good thing indeed. Because if Moses, Abraham, Noah, Daniel, David, others in the Bible, and even Jesus, said ‘Yes’ to God’s plan, and allowed God to speak into their lives, why can’t we?
“Your Word My Life” 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 melody worthy to be included on this compilation! With the EP ending with the more subdued and reflective piano led “Bless Us And Keep Us”, which has John singing a refrain of a well-known prayer, asking God ‘…Lord bless us and keep us, make Your face to shine upon us, raise Your countenance on us and give us peace oh God…’; the final two songs present are “While I’m Waiting” and “Our God Reigns Here”, two of John more popular and impacting songs of his career to date.
A call to action and an in-your-face guitar rocker/epic anthem as well; “Our God Reigns Here” 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”.
One of his most famous songs ever, John’s melody “While I’m Waiting” can be confrontational and controversial at times, as we are reminded that we can worship in spite of our circumstances, while we wait for our situations to change for the better. However I believe that instead of worshipping in the good times, dependent on 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…’, a notion Paul in the New Testament regularly comes back to. One of my favourite songs from John ever, this is a great inclusion that even anchors this EP both musically and lyrically!
John Waller’s surprise EP Five For Free, a standout and favourite EP 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 EP, and hopefully it calls people to action to live a live that pleases God!
3 songs to listen to: Our God Reigns Here, While I’m Waiting, Your Word My Life
RIYL: Steven Curtis Chapman, Bebo Norman, Casting Crowns, MercyMe