Release Date: October 26th 2018
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Sovereign Still
- Love Me
- Trust In You
- What If We Loved
- Nothing Less
- What A Beautiful Name
“…When I was growing up, I loved Mariah Carey because she looked like me. I know that as a little girl, you pick out the Barbie that looks like you, or you pick out the baby doll that looks like you, or you look up to the artist that looks like you. I think that’s really important for me to be able to step into music in faith and know that God is leading me in this direction. There are so many girls and women who need to hear what God has to say about them. Women don’t believe they are beautiful anymore. We define ourselves by society’s impossible standards that leave us feeling empty, unworthy and not enough. I was tired of feeling like I wasn’t measuring up and needed to fight back the lies I had been fed. The most beautiful thing we can do is embrace the fact that we are chosen and loved unconditionally by the Creator of the universe, and there is nothing we can do to add to our beauty. We are perfectly made, and it’s time we start standing in our freedom. Wildflower is an album of truth…” You know how sometimes you stumble on an artist due to a song being in your weekly Spotify playlist Release Radar? That’s how it was last week for myself when I listened to “What A Beautiful Name”, the Hillsong Worship cover recorded by newcomer Lauren Béa. From then on I was hooked. Even though I hadn’t heard of her music before (and still don’t know much about her apart from her website biography!), I decided to take a chance on Wildflower, Lauren’s debut album which released at the end of October, from the strength of the stellar Hillsong Worship cover. What resulted is me finding probably the ‘new artist’ of the year (not Tauren Wells, who actually won at the Dove Awards- sorry everyone, but Tauren isn’t exactly new, cause he’s been doing music for years!); and an album that has caught me by surprise in definitely a good way! A young artist that we all must keep an eye out for, as I am certain she will go far in the CCM industry in the coming months and years; Lauren’s debut project is for anyone who loves artists like Blanca, Beckah Shae, Jasmine Murray and Mandisa!
Opening proceedings with the high-octane radio friendly pop tune “Sovereign Still”, Lauren emphatically relays to us with intense fervour that Jesus is sovereign over all, and at all times, even in the moments where we feel that He isn’t in control. Similar in theme of Steven Curtis Chapman’s “God Is God”, “Sovereign Still” poses the question of why we believe in Jesus even while there still is suffering in this world, and the answer is that we know from events in the Bible that He is sovereign. Period. Doesn’t matter what we feel, because we know what is fact. Does this song bring comfort? Maybe. Maybe not, for those of us who are struggling with the knowledge that God is still sovereign, even in this political and economic uncertainty. Yet what Lauren has shown us in this song is a statement, a declaration, that we can and will cry out, either now or into the future; because of our faith of who He is and how much He loves us.
The rest of the album introduces us to a fresh, reinvigorating pop sound that is sure to garner praise from listeners and critics alike, as Lauren continues to step out into what God has called for her to do. “Undefeated” may not be the same song from Tauren Wells, but it certainly does have the same lyrical themes, as Lauren confidently relays across electronics and remix effects to us, that Jesus reigns on high, is undefeated, and deserves all the praise because He conquered the grave; while title track “Wildflower” focuses on the theme of identity and beauty, as Lauren passionately highlights to us the ever-true notion that Jesus sees each of us as perfect, as beautiful and as a wildflower, no matter how we perceive ourselves. The electronic pop mid-tempo melody “Everything” then follows, which is inspired by her unfortunate miscarriage, as Lauren vulnerably lays her soul bare and outlines that ‘…when I had nothing You give me something, when I had no one You were my everything…’.
The album ends its first half with the honest and open “Love Me”, a musically daring anthem directed to teenage girls in the viewpoint of a young teenage girl- supposed to be ‘…really for any woman who feels like they’re in a circumstance where they’re not enough. They don’t feel like they’re enough at work, or they don’t feel like they’re enough in their marriage or they’re not enough as a mom…’. “Treasure” brings the tempo to a more anthemic, soundtrack type of atmosphere as Lauren imparts to us the concept of us finally releasing control in the material possessions that we are holding onto and instead focusing on the things that really matter in life aka God and family and relationships, as we ensure that our treasure and our heart is firmly on our Father and Saviour; while “Trust In You” is probably the most emotional and personal song I have resonated with on this album, as Lauren lets us know that she trusts Jesus 100&- it may be hard but is thoroughly worth it in the end!).
Thematically similar to Matthew West’s “My Own Little World” and Michael Boggs’ “What Would Jesus Undo?”, “What If We Loved” has Lauren placing on her Britt Nicole hat vocally, as we are challenged by the questions posed here, which ask us what do we do with the people around us who need love, and who are different from us. Are we going to love them no questions asked, like Jesus does? Something to ponder about, isn’t it? While the 80’s themed pop ballad “Nothing Less” lets us know that God loves us the same, and there’s nothing we can do to make Him love us any more or less; yet it is “What A Beautiful Name” which showcases Lauren’s vocals the most, as she delivers a worthy version of Hillsong Worship’s smash radio hit. There’s nothing much more that I can say about this track (for that you can read my review of Hillsong Worship’s There Is More!), but what I will say is that because of this rendition, many more people will hear Lauren’s music, and that is definitely a good thing as she continues to spread the gospel to hopefully everyone on the planet.
Lauren Béa has come a long way into stardom, and as she stands on a platform and tells each one of us through song the truth about God’s love and goodness on our lives; I am sure that we as a people will be blessed by her music. Musically similar to artists like Mandisa, Karyn Williams and Koryn Hawthorne, Lauren’s music may not be unique, but it sure is needed in today’s society which tells us all that we need to act like we’re perfect and we can’t rely on others. So without further ado, let me just say ‘listen to Lauren’s new album’! Regardless if you connect with it now or later or never, take a chance. Perhaps you’ll find out the truth of Jesus being a beautiful name!
3 songs to listen to: Love Me, Trust In You, Nothing Less
RIYL: Lexi Elisha, Beckah Shae, Mandisa, Blanca, Kerrie Roberts, Plumb, Jaci Velasquez, Jasmine Murray, Karyn Williams