Release Date: October 16th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- I’ve Got It All
- Loves Me Most
- Meet Jesus
- Your Love Feels Like Home
- Hear That Story Too
- Heaven Someday
Jonny Diaz, the songwriter of “More Beautiful You”, one of the most inspiring melodies about self-worth, beauty and identity ever (along with Britt Nicole’s “Gold” and Alessia Cara’s “Scars To your Beautiful”), has had quite a remarkable career since releasing his first album in 2003. Jonny was offered a baseball scholarship in 2002, however he declined. This was because that Jonny felt God was moving him to minister to people through music so instead Jonny has since provided us with plenty of heart-warming and lyrically poignant songs bringing us all closer to God, from the heartfelt ballad “Beauty Of The Cross” that describes how much Jesus loves us to die on the cross for us, to the revealing and sometimes uncomfortable radio single “Break My Heart”- a call to action, where Jonny proactively urges fellow believers to act out their faith and be the hands and feet of the community.
In my own humble opinion, Jonny’s songwriting calibre is in the same or similar vein to artists like Bebo Norman, Jason Gray, John Mayer, Nichole Nordeman, Sarah MacLachlan and Andrew Peterson, and musically reminding me of Brandon Heath, Josh Wilson and Steven Curtis Chapman (and I reckon many listeners and critics may agree with me as well!); with many of Jonny’s acoustic pop melodies having changed the lives of many, while also excelling on the Christian Billboard charts and other radio formats. Though with such a hefty and lofty comparison to many contemporaries of his which are just as popular, or maybe even more so, than him; Jonny doesn’t let these comparisons faze him. This is evident shown in his latest EP Sweetness And Sorrow (reviewed here!)… and also shown on the heartfelt, inspiring, poignant, hopeful and comforting EP Hear That Story , which released yesterday.
I think back to when I first started dating my wife almost 13 years ago, and my heart begins to pound! There was so much excitement, so much uncertainty, and so much nervousness. These early days were more about putting my best foot forward and less about letting my guard down. 13 years and 3 kids later, she is now my safest place. Nervousness has been replaced by comfort. Acting has been replaced by authenticity. It’s not a Hollywood romance. It’s so much better! I find so many parallels in my relationship with the Jesus. I’ve learned that I don’t have to put on a show. My prayers look less like some type of ritual as I’m dressed in my Sunday best and more like a genuine conversation. It feels less like jumping through hoops and more like a long walk with an old friend. It feels less like trying to follow a rule book and more like gratitude. It feels… like home!
The lead single “Your Love Feels Like Home” released a few months ago, and though one of the more radio friendly and musically cliché tracks, still is moving and still packs a punch. As “Your Love Feels Like Home” reminds us that it is only Jesus’ love that can and will ever make us feel like home and make us feel like we’re loved, worthy and wanted; we are met with a stirring acoustic guitar ballad that has Jonny at the top of his game as a singer and as a songwriter. With his enthusiasm and passion still compelling and powerful, this track is definitely for fans of Jonny, as well as those who need encouragement in their daily walk with Jesus. Even when 2020 is pressing down upon us like an unwelcome parasite, Jonny is like a close friend, letting us know that we’re all going to be alright with Jesus by our side. We can feel at peace and at home with Him.
The rest of the project is just as compelling and engaging as the first single, as Jonny encourages us to keep steady at walking the Christian life, as God is with us and He won’t ever leave us. EP opener “I’ve Got It All” is a revealing pop number essentially where Jonny dives into the concept of striving to gain more and more material possessions, however also declaring that ‘…I’ve got more than the richest man that ever walked the earth, a treasure any king would covet worth much more than I imagine, peace like Jesus in the middle of the storm, blessings in my life I can’t ignore, now I see all my worries seem so small, I’ve got it all…’; while likely radio single “Loves Me Most” is one of the most CCM-esque songs I’ve heard this year- as Jonny earnestly relays that Jesus is the One who knows us the best and still loves us the most…’. “Meet Jesus”, one of the most confronting and perhaps controversial songs of the year, has Jonny admitting that sometimes Christians can be hypocritical (and Jonny even refers to scandals and crusades in this song!); yet the melody also reminds us that when we truly meet Jesus, we’ll all be changed from the inside out, and all of the hurt that we are holding inside will be healed in time, and we’ll be made brand new.
The title track “Hear That Story Too” is as encouraging as ever, as Jonny eloquently relays to us the fact that our stories are invaluable. Our testimonies are invaluable and our life can actually provide some inspiration to another. Too many times and too often we believe that we’re only useful to someone once we’ve overcome something. Yet God says that while we’re in the midst of trials and tribulations- God is using us too. It’s a comforting melody and one of my favourites; yet nothing can compare to the emotional tear-jerker and unbelievably sad “Heaven Someday”. As Jonny sings to his unborn child whom he and his wife lost some time ago at 12 weeks (and the fact that we don’t know the gender is intentional, as I reckon they didn’t even know the gender!), we are presented with a song overcome with emotion, honest and raw heartache, with Jonny recounting that he can’t wait to meet his child in heaven someday. The hurt of losing someone long before you meet them and long before you know them… well I’m sure that hurt won’t go away. Yet this song is a part of what will bring healing to Jonny and is also a part of what will bring healing to many more in situations like these too. I don’t think there’s been a song like this in recent memory- so well done Jonny for diving deep and peeling back the layers of honesty that is sometimes not explored in Christian music.
I was a freshman in college back in 2003 when I had the opportunity to record my first (indie) CD. I had very little money, no clue how to promote my music, and no idea how to even make a record. However, I had some songs that God laid on my heart, and I knew I wanted to share them with as many people as possible. If I’m honest, I assumed that would be the only CD I ever got to make. I figured I’d try to do the whole music thing, but as soon as college was over, I’d have to get a real job. I’m so glad I was wrong 🙂. It’s now 2020. I’m a 37 year old man with a wife and three kids. I have an amazing record label to help me promote my music all over the world, and I’m blessed to work with some of the most talented producers and players in Nashville each time I go into the studio. Although much has changed, one thing has not. I have some songs that God laid on my heart, and I’d love to share them with as many people as possible.
With Jonny Diaz still right now being underrated in the CCM industry, I personally hope that Hear That Story Too will make him be noticed by…almost everyone I guess; this EP reminds us all that Jonny is back to his brilliant best. With Jonny’s newest Centricity Music project being one of my favourite EP’s of 2020; there’s no reason not to listen to this hopeful and inspiring melody, and be encouraged and inspired! Well done Jonny for creating thoughtful music. Bring on the next full-length album I say (maybe sometime in 2021? Maybe a Christmas project?)!
3 songs to listen to: Meet Jesus, Hear That Story Too, Heaven Someday
RIYL: Josh Wilson, Brandon Heath, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bebo Norman, John Mayer, Matthew West, Hunter Hayes