Release Date: April 14th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- How Can It Be
- Trust in You
- My Revival
- Power to Redeem (feat. All Sons and Daughters)
- Here’s My Heart
- O Lord
- I Am Yours
- Come Alive (Dry Bones)
- Salt and Light
- Once And For All
‘…my heart’s cry is that people feel empowered as a body of Christ. It’s just heavy on my heart for all of us to rise up in unity and recognize the goodness of God. My hope is that people are empowered by knowing who they belong to, knowing that they are the son or daughter of God, and in response to that being able to worship fully, worship with complete abandon…’ Lauren Daigle, the latest artist to sign to Centrity Music, home to a plethora of great artists, from Aaron Shust, Jason Gray and Andrew Peterson, to Unspoken, Lindsay McCaul and Jonny Diaz; is an artist to behold, with her powerful voice that likens to that of Francesca Battistelli, Dara MacLean or even mainstream artist Adele. With such poignancy and heart at the age of 23, Lauren’s ability to bring a song to live with her passion and heart is something that makes her debut project How Can It Be something special, making this album one of my favourites, alongside NF’s Mansion and I Am They’s self-titled album, of 2015 so far. From the first single of the album “How Can It Be” that was a major hit during 2014, to the cover of Crowder’s “Here’s My Heart” and the CentricWorship hit “Come Alive (Dry Bones)”; this young Louisianan native has delivered an album worthy to be revisited time and time again as the months of 2015 progress!
One of my favourite worship songs ever, “Here’s My Heart” makes another appearance on an album released in 2015- with a near flawless rendition by new artists I Am They, Lauren Daigle releases her rendition of a David Crowder melody that’s arguably, in my opinion, one of the best worship songs of the 2010s decade so far. A poignant prayer and one of the standouts, not only on Neon Steeple and I Am They but also on Lauren’s album as well, this 6 minute emotive, worshipful, heartfelt, and often uncomfortable song brings the theme of giving everything to God to the fore. Encouraging us to worship God wholeheartedly as we give ourselves to Him out of reverence; Lauren delivers one of the best vocal performances of any female artist currently in the CCM market- maybe a frontrunner for new artist of the year at the 2015 Dove Awards? While on the surface 6:15 may seem a little long amongst all the 3 minute and 4 minute songs on the album; what Lauren has is passion, something that can seem to be forced, mimicked, or even falsified in today’s music industry.
Enthusiasm that brings “Here’s My Heart” further up to be one of my favourite worship songs within the last 5 years (alongside others like “This is Amazing Grace”, “God’s Great Dance Floor”, “Your Grace Finds Me” and “We Believe”), it is the chorus of how ‘…I am found, I am Yours, I am loved, I’m made pure, I have life, I can breathe, I am healed, I am free…’, while also showing us that ‘…You are strong, You are sure, You are life, You endure, You are good, always true, You are light, breaking through…’ that continues to be the highlight of every version of the song. Kudos to Lauren for such a great song, one that further asserts her as someone who will hopefully become a household name within the CCM industry in the future- purely based on vocals alone!
With Lauren releasing her full length album around 6 months after her 5 song EP released in September 2014, we continue to see Lauren’s vocal prowess as these songs we’ve heard for 6 months continue to inspire and amaze us in how much Lauren has impressed in such a short time within the CCM industry. Title track “How Can It Be” delivers honesty at its most vulnerable as we see that ‘…You plead my cause, You right my wrongs, You break my chains, You overcome…how can it be?…’, words that’ll hopefully have us thinking about the gravity of what Christ has done for us. With a symphonic atmosphere that floods not only the title track but the album in general; it is the soaring vocals of Lauren and the epic music and sound production that places this album as one that’ll be enjoyed by millions who love CCM at its finest.
“O Lord”, “Power to Redeem” and “Come Alive (Dry Bones)” are all repeats from the EP, and are all still standouts even now- “O Lord” speaks about the faithfulness of God and how He hears our cries, taking ‘…what’s wrong and make it right…’, and is given electronic keyboard effects and a dance beat to be one of the catchiest songs on the album; while “Power to Redeem”, a duet with folk-worship duo All Sons and Daughters, is an acoustically driven song describing how God redeems every situation, no matter how broken it may be. The harmonies of David, Leslie and Lauren highlight the simplicity of the song, and how sometimes a lack of musical instruments makes the voices and the message of the melody more impacting.
“Come Alive (Dry Bones)”, originally recorded on CentricWorship’s live EP of the same name, still has the radio marketability that drove the live version to become as popular as it was, and while I enjoy Lauren’s voice in the live setting more, the song is still as powerful as ever, with the theme of calling dry bones to life being presented, as we are reminded of the story of Ezekiel. Confronted with a riveting piano riff and the truth of how ‘…we know that You are God, Yours is the victory, we know there is more to come, that we may not yet see…we’ll step into the valley unafraid…’, the culmination of strong drum beats, a radio presence, and Lauren’s powerful voice makes this one of this year’s most enjoyable songs that could easily be as popular, or even more so, than “How Can It Be” on radio.
“I Am Yours”, “Trust in You”, “Salt and Light” and “Once And For All” were all on the physical copies of Lauren Daigle’s EP available at her live shows last year, all of which continue to focus on Lauren’s powerhouse vocals. “Trust in You”, the next promotional single on the album prior to album release, speaks about how God is trustworthy in spite of what we see and believe. With a looping percussion beat, this is a perfect song to segue out of the title track, and one that I’m sure will be great on radio whenever it releases (it’s only a matter of time). “I Am Yours”, sandwiched between “O Lord” and “Come Alive” in the tracklist, is as enjoyable as the songs before and after, highlighting that regardless of everything that happens in our lives, we are His. With pulsating drums, Lauren’s heart is revealed in the emotive words to ‘…let the waters rise, I will stand as the oceans roar…You are God over the storm, and I am Yours…’; something for us to consider- do we really believe We are His in these circumstances or not?
Stripping the music down in “Salt and Light” (an acoustic guitar and a violin, with Lauren’s vocals), Lauren makes it known that ‘…You are salt and light, You are love’s great height, You are deep and wide, a consuming fire…’, that one touch of God’s presence will change us forever, just like how salt and light affects whatever it comes into contact with. The album ends with “Once And For All”, a piano only track about laying down everything at Jesus’s feet and trusting that He has paved a way for us to be brought back to Him once and for all, while also delivering songs like “First” (the first track on the album that describes the theme of seeking God first in every moment in our lives), “My Revival”, a song that reminds us all to rest in Jesus and He renews our strength; and “Loyal”, a slightly chorus-repetitious melody that describes to us that ‘…Your love is loyal…’, that God will never leave us even if we believe it to be true.
As the 12 songs come to an end, all I can say is- can I listen to this album again? Hardly have I said and thought this statement, of any worship artist of recent times. On par with NF’s Mansion, Third Day’s Lead us Back, Jonathan Thulin’s Science Fiction and I Am They’s debut album as being the top 5 albums of the year so far for me personally (with albums from Jeremy Camp, Kevin Max, Chris August and Hawk Nelson closely following behind); Lauren has given us a near flawless worship album (the only downside is that the album is so good it is over before it began- and the fact that the album may not necessarily be as noticed as other popular worship artists on other labels like Integrity Music); that continues to assert her as one of the most techniquly sound and proficient vocalists of this generation. From the title track to pop dance melody “O Lord” to the CCM “Come Alive”, each melody is reminding us of the gravity of God’s sacrifice, and that all we can do and say is to come to Him in awe and reverence. An album to be cherished in months to come; Lauren ought to be congratulated for an album well done. Can’t wait for more success in the future- maybe a few award nominations in the future? How Can It Be certainly deserves it!
3 songs to listen to: Here’s My Heart, How Can It Be, O Lord
RIYL: Dara Maclean, Francesca Battistelli, Meredith Andrews, Jason Gray, Lindsay McCaul