Save The City Records
Release Date: May 19th 2015
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- To You My King
- Turn It Around
- You Stay
- Alive Forevermore
- Wide Open
- No Turning Back
- You Can Use Me
- All That You’ve Done
- Nothing Worth More
- My Forever
- Tell The World (feat. Jekob)
- Father We Love You
“…City Love Music means to be a City on a hill, to Love God, Love People, and to make Music that inspires. It has now become my mission statement. So many people have been broken including myself but God can always put us back together. I hope you are blessed by these songs and they encourage you in a positive way…” Signed to Save The City Records; worship leader, singer/songwriter and producer Jonathan Singh, who leads Sugar Creek Baptist Church in worship, recently released his first album in May, and let me tell you that it’s a real treat. Brimming with enthusiasm, passion and excitement, these heartfelt and eclectic melodies are thoroughly enjoyable, particularly when these songs are contrasted with Jonathan’s honest and vulnerable testimony which can be read here, putting these songs into great context. So, have you all finished reading the bio yet? Good, let’s progress. So, Jonathan is an artist we should and definitely need to all be musically and lyrically introduced to, as his explosive, diverse and inspiring batch of 12 songs are almost guaranteed to be sung in churches everywhere, or by listeners during personal worship in the near future. With his infusion of r&b, pop, dance and worship seemingly contagious and keeping me on my toes dancing, City Love Music is an album not to be missed!
Opening with the ardent and encouraging gospel infused electric guitar and acoustic guitar prominent dance worship anthem “To You My King”, Jonathan packs a punch as he vividly encapsulates his desire to give God praise, honour and glory. Conveying eternal truths about Jesus that have me agreeing with every word, this up-tempo groovy melody has Jonathan fervently proclaiming that ‘…I won’t be afraid, when the darkness comes I’ll cling to the light, I will call on your name, I’ll bow at Your feet, to You my King…’, an assertion that we all should believe in with a hundred percent conviction. Musically fresh and invigorating, Jonathan has created a melody that has us pondering our relationship with Jesus, and whether we’d praise Him in the trials as well as the joys; well done Jonathan for probing and asking questions.
As Jonathan is a worship leader, vertical songs to Jesus are what this album is mostly about thematically, yet musically there’s stylistically a lot of ground that Jonathan covers, making this album one of the most musically diverse I have heard this year. The piano pop tune “Turn It Around” employs synth and programming, as this disco 80’s themed dance mid-tempo melody celebrates that Jesus has turned around our life for the better. Even though there are a few lyrical clichés that Jonathan unfortunately includes, not to mention the continuous repetition of a refrain in the chorus, it’s hard not to dance and move to this catchy and infectious pop tune. So this song isn’t that bad if it gets us dancing and listening to the lyrics, right?
The airy and holiday inspired Caribbean r&b flavoured piano prominent acoustic ballad “You Stay”, where Jonathan’s serene vocals shine, reminds us that ‘…no matter what comes, no matter what goes, when I lose my way, Lord You stay…’, a gentle word of reassurance that we are not alone; while the remixy dance club offering “Alive Forevermore” reminds me musically of Hillsong Young And Free. Jonathan graciously and with pure emotion sings a straight up worship song to God, proclaiming His sovereignty and that He is alive forevermore and reigning here on Earth on display for everyone to see and believe. Reggae and soul are also explored in the album, through the personal highlight “No Turning Back”. The musically daring and courageous guitar and pulsating drums focused melody asserts that we will never turn away from God and that there’s no turning back from His love, which is endless and runs forever, as Jonathan delivers a near flawless performance that is simple in lyrical nature yet effective thematically and musically in conveying the message of God’s faithfulness and our gratitude to Him because of everything He has done.
“Wide Open” slows the tempo down a bit, with the piano only track being a nice change of pace, where Jonathan delivers an honest, moving, emotional and heartfelt performance, declaring his heart to be wide open to anything God wants to impart to him, to ‘…receive Your love, receive Your word…’, and tracks like “Nothing Worth More” and “You Can Use Me” reinforces the fact that Jonathan is just at home singing slow ballads than the high octane dance and praise songs near the beginning of the album. “Nothing Worth More” is a song lyrically and musically similar to a Planetshakers ballad, reminding us that in this word there’s nothing worth more than His presence and His love; and the latter song is probably the most emotional and personal on the entre record.
Here, Jonathan sings probably the most CCM song on the album and highlights the inspiring message that ‘…out of the ashes I will rise, I’ll listen for Your voice, You gave me life, You can use me, use me, again, and again…’, an honest prayer of admission that God can use us anything He wants, and in anything He wants. What a prayer of total and utter surrender, well done Jonathan for inspiring us to live more for Christ, even if it is in a direction that the norm doesn’t follow. Jonathan Singh is truly an inspiration and an artist to be reckoned with in the future, on his musically versatility alone, but there are more tracks to listen to and delve into, so let’s finish off our thoughts shall we?
The folksy blusey country inspired “All that You’ve Done” borrows a phrase from, as well as the entire theme of the 90’s song “Trading My Sorrows” from Darrell Evans, as Jonathan ardently and passionately reminds us that everything that we have in this world comes from Jesus anyway, so we can sing out His praises for all that He’s done. While the radio friendly strings and synth led CCM prominent tune “My Forever” is just as enjoyable as any other CCM pop song this year, with Jonathan boldly exclaiming that Jesus is ‘…the anthem that I sing, You’re the anchor that I hold onto, You’re the hope when I have none, my forever, my forever…’, an honest and emotional melody outlining our shortcomings as well as our security in Christ alone as He makes us new and wipes our slate clean. Musically very grand like an orchestral piece with a chilling crescendo; Jonathan saves the best for last in the final two musical masterpieces.
Featuring label mate Je’kob (speaking out an impressive rap/poem in the bridge, though not as catchy as anything NF has recorded!); Jonathan starts off the captivating r&b tune “Tell The World” with a refrain of the popular hymn “Amazing Grace” then launches into a testimony about how God saved him from himself and from sin. Declaring that ‘…I will do Your will for my life, spread Your love like the ocean wide, I will speak of Your goodness and how You rescued me, time and time again…’, this song is a blueprint of how we should pray to God, as we are dutifully and expertly reminded of the fact that the whole world need to know that Jesus has set us free, and that it is our honour, duty and privilege to share the love of God with everyone we meet. The album closer “Father We Love You” musically sounds like an Owl City melody, with synths and electronic programming galore. Sounding ethereal and remix-y; Jonathan reiterates a simple message, that we love Jesus because of everything He has done and that ‘…I will worship You for the rest of my life…’ Ending the album in the best possible way, in that the notion of praising God is explored in its simplicity; Jonathan deserves plenty of praise, as City Love Music is sure to be on many listeners’ playlists in the near future.
A rising star in the making, Jonathan Singh is sure to be a household name and the artist everyone will soon be talking about in the months and years to come. With City Love Music being one of my personal favourite albums in 2015; there’s nothing more that I can say about this album that hasn’t been said already. So let me just say this- go listen to some tracks. I guarantee you’ll like these honest, emotional, personal and transparent songs! Well done Jonathan, I can’t wait to hear your sophomore album whenever it releases!
3 songs to listen to: Turn It Around, You Stay, You Can Use Me, Tell The World
RIYL: Planetshakers, The Katinas, newworldson, Dan Bremnes, Mikeschair