Release Date: September 18th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Jonny Diaz– Everything is Changing (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Enough in You
- Saved From
- All Because of You
Jonny Diaz is a difficult to peg inside a music-style box. With a bit of pop, rock, acoustic, CCM and even a splash of country written all over his music, it’s hard to fit an artist in a box when every new release is different stylistically from the last. Starting his ministry way back in 2003 with a bunch of independent albums, it is his 2009 album that released on INO Records (now Fair Trade Services) that placed him on the map. With his hit song “More Beautiful You” even crossing over to mainstream; Jonny’s music continues to give listeners to this day melodies that are heartfelt, poignant and real. In a similar musical or stylistic vein to artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Josh Wilson or Andrew Peterson; Jonny continues to deliver music with a message, even after his lucrative deal to delve into the country music genre after his hugely successful crossover hit in 2014, “Thank God I Got Her”.
On a roster alongside artists like Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Aaron Shust, Jared Anderson and Unspoken to name a few; this September 18th release hardly fits into the nice neat box of CCM…which is a good thing. Fresh, invigorating, powerful, emotive, poignant, and everything else in between; Jonny continues to unveil his passion for bringing life-affirming and identity building messages of hope throughout these 6 songs. While possibly the only gripe is that the EP is way too short (here’s hoping he does a full-length soon), Everything is Changing, despite only 6 tracks, still nevertheless stands tall amidst the album releases in September 2015, and is one of my favourite EP’s of the year alongside Zealand Worship’s debut EP and Nichole Nordeman’s comeback one!
Releasing his current single “Breathe” to digital outlets and countless radio stations earlier in the month, Jonny reminds us all to slow down and be present with the Lord in this song that gives us all a snapshot of the day in the life of someone who is busy- as in all of us. This song, while its central theme is to wait and sit and breathe at Jesus’s feet, is nevertheless universal in that we can all relate to what Jonny is saying, that sometimes life can be crazy, and that there are literally too many things to fit in a day that consists only of 24 hours. With a powerful acoustic guitar hook and a kick drum beat, Jonny sets off to present a real and relatable day-in-the-life-of through the poignant lyrics of how the ‘…alarm clocks screaming, bare feet hit the floor, yeah it’s off to the races, everybody out the door, I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life…’
When it comes down to it, “Breathe” is a call for us to stand still and find the peace in the middle of the chaos, finding the little moments of us sitting and taking it the atmosphere of this life, in the midst of life itself. That can be an art, and a balance to even achieve, yet as Jonny discusses himself, ‘…I realized I’m not the only one feeling that way, and I think a lot of listeners can relate to that…’ Being busy is great, but being busy at the expense of us breathing and taking in the beauty of God’s creation isn’t necessarily a good thing- with “Breathe” a chance for us to remedy what is in our lives that need to realign for us to feel refreshed and rejuvenated as we head into our weeks with God in us and with us!
While there are only 6 songs on the EP (I would wish that it would be a full-length), each song is as heartfelt as the next, and each song is possibly some of Jonny’s most personal and heartfelt yet. In fact, dare I go and say that Everything is Changing consists of some of Jonny’s best recorded and written work ever throughout his whole career? “Enough In You”, arguably the song that’ll fit right in radio after “Breathe”, is as catchy as it is compelling, as Jonny uses drums and layered electric guitar sounds to create an epic anthem about us being enough in God because God was enough for us. We don’t have to bring anything else along with us to be in God’s presence- as God laid down everything for us, surely we can lay down everything at His feet, knowing full well that what we carry, the good bits, the bad, the hurt, the pain, the ugliness and even the triumphs, are all shaped and moulded by God anyway. The chorus of the melody places things in perspective, and as Jonny sings out alongside the big drums and the high piercing and powerful backing vocals, that ‘…through the thunder and the lightning, You hold me close, You have always been enough, so…I can see that I’m enough in You…’, we realise that whatever we can fill in the void inside us won’t compare to God Himself, which is freeing in a way as we don’t strive to amass whatever we can but just sit at His feet, and let His presence fill the space in our hearts we want for something to occupy.
“Joy”, though a tad over 3 minutes, is perhaps the most joyful song on the album, complete with acoustic guitars galore and a melody that is as danceable as it is meaningful. The topic of joy and having it is as discussed in both the mainstream and Christian industries, which is why I reckon this song will be a crossover hit in the future…maybe on Country Radio? As frenzied as it is poppy and primed for many radio spins in the upcoming months, it is as heartfelt as Jonny relays the truth of how joy is ‘…gonna be my strength, be my truth, gonna light the way, and see me through, gonna be my hope, be my shield, gonna lift me up no matter how I feel…’ “Saved From” further explores the country music landscape with light acoustics and a steel electric guitar undertone as Jonny relays the theme of us not being boastful in us but in our God. The chorus is something to behold, as Jonny unveils the truth we all should be living, that ‘…there’s no self in my esteem, any bit of good, it ain’t from me, there’s no reason I can boast, what I’ve got is not my own, I’m coming clean on all my dirt, in my weakness I have learnt that I can show my Saviour’s love if I show you what I’ve been saved from…’ Coupled with “Joy”, Jonny’s venture into country music and country radio territory is nothing more than seamless.
“Chance” falls back into CCM/pop music atmosphere (not a bad thing) yet when compared to the aforementioned 4, this melody feels like a song that any other CCM artist would or could sing. A song that could, and probably should, be on radio in the upcoming months, Jonny presents to us the truth that every circumstance is a chance for us to become better people in Christ our Lord, Jonny relays the truth, no matter how compelling and confronting, that ‘…hurting is a chance to find You as a healer, lonely is a chance to fall into Your love, broken is a chance to know You as redeemer, empty is a chance to find that You’re enough…’ Lyrically similar to Sidewalk Prophets’s “Keep Making Me”, Jonny has continued to delve into the unsafe, yet equally necessary, thematic elements that make up an EP that is as needed as it should be enjoyed. Jonny also ends the EP with “All Because of You”, a stripped down quiet song dedicated to Charlie Grace, his newborn child. As Jonny outlines himself, ‘…I wanted to acknowledge [in this song] the fact that this is not all easy, and it’s not all perfect. There are some things about this baby coming that are absolutely going to turn my world upside down, but at the end of it, I wouldn’t want to change a thing…’ A great subdued and emotive song to end the EP with, Jonny encompasses a range of themes and musical styles to present one of the most musically diverse collection of songs, from any artist, released in 2015 so far!
Jonny Diaz has always been such an artist that always writes honest music, regardless of what the theme of the song suggests. Whether he is on INO Records, independent, or now currently on Centricity Music; Jonny’s music has always been the same, and the same can be said of this new EP. One of the most pop/country/acoustic albums I’ve ever heard from Jonny, ever since Jason Gray’s Post Script way back in the first half of the year; Jonny’s heartfelt message of being humble, real and honest before the Lord is something for us to take notice of, as the overarching theme of sitting before God and allowing Him to work in us as He sees fit is something we all must be believing on a continual basis. Well done Jonny for such a powerful EP, and one that currently sits at #3 in terms of my favourite EPs of 2015 so far!
3 song to listen to: Joy, Enough in You, Saved From
RIYL: Josh Wilson, Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Steven Curtis Chapman