Release Date: August 12th 2014
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Our God Reigns Here
- Sons and Daughters
- Break the Chains
- While I’m Waiting
- I Just Want You Jesus (feat. Josee Waller)
- Don’t Stop Praising
- Fix My Eyes
- As for Me and My House
John Waller has been around the music industry for quite some time. Signing to Reunion Records in 2007, his ability to create hits and powerful songs meant to minister to and heal people from whatever they’re going through, his songs like “Still Calls Me Son”, “While I’m Waiting”, “Our God Reigns Here”, “As for Me And My House”, as well as his newly recorded “Orphan” and “Life is a Gift”, have impacted people around the world with a sense of truth, honesty and heartfelt nature that John has been able to fill his songs with. With “While I’m Waiting” appearing in its entirety in the 2008 movie Fireproof (starring Kirk Cameron), John’s enthusiasm for the church and giving us songs that show us a hope and closeness to God through music has been one of the reasons why I reckon John’s one of the most underrated pop/contemporary CCM artists within the music industry currently.
Releasing his new studio album Life is a Gift in February with virtually no promotion on social media prior to releasing; this new album is similar as well- with no social media promotion, John’s new album, and first live one, released a few days ago. Worship While I’m Waiting showcases some of John’s favourite beloved songs, as well as 5 new songs that haven’t been recorded (or even demoed…?) before. Standing at 9 songs, the acoustic nature of these melodies encourages us that songs are much more than the instrumentations and musical arrangements, and that some of the most poignant and emotive melodies are the ones that are musically lacking. Having a great ability to infuse genres like CCM, pop, country, acoustic and worship all into one album, John performs these 9 songs with enthusiasm, fervent conviction and joy, making this album one of the most unexpected (in a good way) albums of 2014 so far!
“While I’m Waiting”, “Our God Reigns Here”, “Rain” and “As for Me and My House” have all appeared on previous John Waller albums, and are all standouts on this 9 track worship offering from a man that has been one of Christian music’s most honest and lyrically poignant songwriters within the contemporary/pop CCM genre. One of his most famous songs ever (and one of the most famous CCM melodies within the year of 2009), “While I’m Waiting” is a song that embodies John’s heart for worship. 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 uses the acoustical nature to draw out the meaningful lyrics of being content in the waiting as we, collectively with John, are 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…’ One of my favourite songs, not just on the album, but of John Waller ever, this is a great acoustic rendition of a song that anchors the album both musically and lyrically!
“As for Me and My House”, a song that has been one of John Waller’s anthems that give us a great reminder of our reverence, honour and praise toward God in every aspect of our lives; sounds just as poignant and enjoyable acoustic as it is live. With an acoustic guitar and John’s passionate vocal, the song takes the meaning and lyrical importance to another level as we reflect on what it means for us to declare the words of how ‘…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, we will serve the Lord…’ A fitting track to finish the album with, John also invites into the melodies of “Rain” and “Our God Reigns Here”, from Life is a Gift and As for Me And My House respectively, both melodies discussing about God reigning down on us with His blessings, encouragements, and our response as we cast out our own demons, frailties, ailments and hardships in Jesus’s name. With both melodies showcasing a sound that’s equally as enjoyable as John’s full band flavour, both songs highlight our own importance to rely on God, and understand that ‘…our God reigns here, we claim this ground in Jesus’s name…’ (“Our God Reigns Here”)
The remaining five tracks are new, and while I have only listened to them a few times, these new songs fit quite well in with the familiar four, giving us a chance to hear some new John Waller songs… maybe another new album on the horizon? “Sons And Daughters” is an upbeat acoustic and vibrant song that declares us to be the sons and daughters of Christ Jesus (and thus us boldly stepping into whatever Christ has for us), while “Break the Chains” brings to the fore xylophones, harmonicas, and a slow rhythmic beat as we dwell on our own chains that need to be broken by the ‘…bondage breaker…Jesus healer…set me free…’ Standing at a formidable 7 minutes 21 seconds; “Break the Chains” is one of my favourite songs on the album.
“I Just Want You Jesus” features Josee Waller, John’s wife, on vocals as the heartfelt prayer of longing to be with Jesus and wanting his presence elevates this song to be a great reflective melody a la Bethel Music, while the album finishes with “Don’t Stop Praising”, another anthemic song that encourages us to praise God in every circumstance, and “Fix My Eyes”, with its piano prominence and the central theme where we fix our eyes on Christ for everything we need and want. And while it is great to hear all these new songs in an acoustical nature, what is even greater is the anticipation of these songs to be heard in their studio setting… maybe these 5 melodies are the 5 singles from John’s new album?
John Waller’s first live album is one of the most pleasant surprise albums within the last few months. Even though John started off as signed to a label, he is now currently one of my favourite indie artists, alongside others like Audrey Assad and Kerrie Roberts (both also previously on labels). With heartfelt lyrics and vertical praise moments to bring out congregational worship, John’s heart for worship, family, adoption, hope and Christ is all evident within these 9 songs. Still singing with his distinct southern gospel sound, it is the acoustic nature of the album that I’m sure will accentuate the lyrics of the songs even more and thus make the album much more poignant. Despite the lack of promotion, this album has quickly risen to become one of my favourite albums released in August 2014 so far. Well done John for such an inspired and enjoyable album, and one that’ll hopefully encourage us all to live a life worthy of what Christ longs- to worship while, and through our waiting!
3 songs to listen to: Break My Chains, Fix My Eyes, As for Me and My House
RIYL: Casting Crowns, Steven Curtis Chapman, Phil Wickham, Chris Tomlin