Provident Label Group
Release Date: September 18th 2020
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Koryn Hawthorne– I AM (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Speak To Me
- Start From Scratch
- Peace (feat. Jonathan McReynolds)
- Broken Pieces
- Know You (feat. Steffany Gretzinger)
- How Great
Have you ever heard a debut album that has just take you by surprise (in a good way!) that has you left in wonder and asking the question of ‘where did this person come from?’ (in a good way as well)? Enter in 20-year-old gospel/soul/pop/CCM/worship artist Koryn Hawthorne, formerly a contestant on The Voice. With powerful vocals akin to Nicole C. Mullen, Mandisa, Mary Mary, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, Kierra Sheard and Tamela Mann; Koryn’s label debut Unstoppable on Provident Label Group, which released in 2018; is nothing short of remarkable, as I am completely blown away- I am sure you all will be too. Despite the ‘shortness’ of all the 10 tracks clocking in at 37 minutes (as well as 4 songs being double-ups from her 2017 EP); there’s still no denying how on fire Koryn is for Jesus, which shows definitely in these energetic and passionate worship anthems. Fast forward to Koryn’s sophomore album I AM, which released in September last year. I hadn’t got around to listening to this album until now… but I reckon that I AM is a must listen if you’re a fan of gospel music, worship music, or even just music in general; as Koryn will touch your soul, and you’ll definitely never be the same again.
“Speak To Me”, the album opener, kicks off proceedings with a bang. I myself aren’t that well-versed in gospel… but this song makes me at least curious about the genre. As Koryn fervently relays to us that ‘…I wanna wake up to you every day, I think I’ll feel like this forever, as long as we’re together, wanna know you each and every way, I promise to be honest when I speak to you, wanna put you at the top of my list, wanna walk it like I talk it, wanna give you everything, please tell me that you’re rockin’ with this, you know all the ways to speak to me…’ (which could be a song about Jesus or a song about a loved one!), we are met with a passionate and prayerful worship anthem that lifts God’s praises up directly. “Joy” is next, and is a testimony-type track, filled with gospel choirs and a heavenly sound, as Koryn emphatically cries out that only Jesus can bring her true joy, and not material wealth and possessions; while the earnest and emotional “Pray” dives deep into the importance of prayer, in both the good and bad times, as Koryn outlines to us that we can lean on Jesus, because all things work together for the good of those of love Jesus.
“Start From Scratch” is kind of a ‘bargaining’ type of song- a song directed to God, asking Him about whether we can restart our relationship from scratch. You know how we all mess up and we all are like the prodigal son sometimes? Well, this song is like our prayer to God as we are coming back to Him so that we receive assurance that we’re alright and are still loved and accepted. Though this song dives deep into our insecurities and out beliefs that God’s love is semi-conditional; we are reminded of the fact that God is a God of many chances… so when we screw up, He’ll be right by our side, ready to catch us and ready for us to lean on. “Peace” is next, and features Jonathan McReynolds on guest vocals, and highlights the importance of the notion of peace, and that we need to hold onto peace and sanity and contentment in our soul- and ensure at all relationships in our lives foster the level of satisfaction and tranquillity that we so desperately need. Sure, Jesus gives us peace- but this song reminds us that we can cut out any negative person that brings chaos and destruction in our lives, if we feel like it is necessary. While “Broken Pieces”, one of my personal album highlights, is a humble, vulnerable prayer led by the piano, as Koryn asks God to make us whole, and use our broken pieces for His glory and our good; and “You” is a high-octane, energetic praise anthem, that gives the glory and honour back to God, and proclaims that God is the God of the impossible, and that He can move mountains and valleys if He wants to.
“Know You”, probably my most favourite track off I AM, is a heartfelt and poignant duet with Steffany Gretzinger, as both Koryn and Steffany relay that they both want to know Jesus in the most intimate way, and that nothing else matters in comparison to falling deeper into a relationship with Jesus Christ; while the controversial “Sunday” picks apart the concept of the Sabbath, as Koryn reminds us that living life with Jesus is a lifestyle change, and that we need to live like He’s the Lord of our life every single day of the week. Not just on Sundays. The album closer “How Great”, co-written with Matt Maher, is a modern day twist on the age-old and respected hymn “How Great Thou Art”- and is a song for the ages. Truly saving the best for last, we are reminded just how great Jesus is, that ‘…Your love is patient, always consistent with me, for this, I will praise You, You’re never distant, Your heart will never leave, for this, I will praise You…’; and Koryn’s vocals are never better here. If I wasn’t on board as a Koryn Hawthorne fan before- I am now!
Koryn Hawthorne’s debut project Unstoppable is, in a word… well, unstoppable I guess. A surprise left-field favourite album of mine, sky is the limit here for Koryn, as it’s literally a near-flawless album, and one that will be on my rotation on iTunes for a long, long time. Fast forward to I AM and the same sentiments can be said- as this project is extremely enjoyable, catchy, and full of biblical truths that we all need hearing again and again! I’m usually not a fan of straight up gospel, but Koryn has won me over. Well done Koryn, I am definitely eagerly anticipating what God has in store next! Every other listener out there- what are you waiting for? Spend the next 35 minutes immersed in all things Koryn, and then we can compare notes on how awesome the album is, shall we?
3 songs to listen to: Pray, Broken Pieces, How Great
RIYL: Mandisa, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard, Israel Houghton, Mary Mary, Mary J Blige, Tori Kelly, Carman, Natalie Grant