Provident Label Group
Release Date: May 1st 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Mean Girls
- Truth I’m Standing On
- This Is What They Meant
Leanna Crawford would have to be one of my favourite new artists within the CCM realm over the last year or so- up there with artists like Tasha Layton, Apollo LTD, Cochren & Co. and Pat Barrett, to name a few. Upon signing to Story House Collective / Provident Label Group earlier on during the year, and on the back of her successful (moderately) EP titled Crazy Beautiful You in 2018, this up-and-coming singer-songwriter continues to impress and become an artist that’s certain to follow in the footsteps of people like Riley Clemmons, Hannah Kerr, and even Casting Crowns or Matthew West as Leanna continues to impart heartfelt songs to people listening- especially with the release of her second EP this last week, her first on a label. It has been a couple of years since I first discovered this young artist, and I can remember back then I knew that there was something about her music that made it intriguing and unique to listen to. Now in 2020, we see what the artist Leanna has grown into- one that is confident about who she is singing about, and one who’s not afraid to be a little quirky and weird, because it is often the different that impact people the most. Leanna is one such artist. And upon the success of songs like ‘Crazy Beautiful You’, ‘Write About it’ and ‘Prince Charming’ all the years ago, we see the songs that are certain to impact here on her self-titled one. 6 tracks standing at 20 minutes, this is a certain listen if you enjoy similar artists like Riley Clemmons or Hannah Kerr, or like the quirkiness and storytelling evident in her music, alongside the music of her mentor and well-known artist and storyteller, Matthew West.
‘Funeral’, a song that is an absolute bummer of a title, dropped digitally in February 2020, and while this song is indeed one that I’m sure will spark a lot of discussion because of the title; as we hear the story behind her song, nd why she’s calling such a song such a name, we see the beauty of the word ‘Funeral’, and why she is encouraging us all to have one in our lives, but not in the way that we think. The song itself declares our identity, firm and solid, in the foundation of Christ Jesus, and that who we were before we knew Jesus wholeheartedly is far different to who we are when we follow Jesus to the fullest. Though initially we may think that the song ‘Funeral’ offers a sombre tone, the song itself is anything but- with pop becoming the focus of Leanna’s song. In it, Leanna declares that she is throwing a funeral- but not for any old person, but for herself, and more specifically, herself before she knew Jesus. For the old me, the me that was self-centred, who was selfish, who was full of hate and bitterness, who lived for themselves. It is a reminder that a funeral is the end of something, but is also the beginning of something else, a new beginning if you will. It is a reminder that who we were is just that- who we were. That who we’re now is grounded in who He is and what He’s done for us. That is it. Inspired by the Bible passage in 2 Corinthians 5:17, where we are reminded that we are indeed a new creation, that the old has gone and that the new is to come; Leanna has given a bouncy and toe-tapping song, a great way to start off this EP.
‘Truth I’m Standing On’ released to Apple Music and Amazon upon the heels of her chart-topping and powerful song, albeit a quirky title in ‘Funeral’, in March 2020, and with both these two songs anchoring the EP thematically and musically (‘Funeral’ being a bouncy tune, while ‘Truth I’m Standing On’ being a reflective anthem that tugs at your heart for all the right reasons); we see these two songs as being indicators that her future within the Christian music industry is looking ever-so-bright, as this song thematically and biblically is taking on from where ‘Funeral’ left off. As ‘Funeral’ was a melody about us throwing a funeral for the ‘old us’ and understanding that we are a new creation in Christ; ‘Truth I’m Standing On’ is a reminder of how we have to keep coming back to the truth that we are standing on and resting upon what we believe to be true, even when all things around us tell us the opposite. The song itself is calling back to the promises and truth that God speaks in His Word, and reminding ourselves of this biblical fact that ‘…this is the truth I’m standing on, even when all my strength is gone, You are faithful forever, and I know You’ll never let me fall, right now I’m choosing to believe, someday soon I’ll look back and see, all the pain had a purpose, Your plan was perfect all along, this is the truth I’m standing on…’ A song to sing during the moments when we can’t see the Lord at work, for whatever reason; Leanna gives us the tools and compass to sing our hearts out as we choose to believe that God’s plan, however uncertain it may look like in this difficult time, is far greater and better than what we can ever believe or think from our own consciousness and imagination. Jesus and His ways are far better than ours, and though we may look at our current situation and believe that not to be true, because of what we see; Leanna invites us to have the conversation with the Lord, that it’s ok to be scared and have doubts, but ultimately understand that God’s truth is far believing and permeating than what we can see in a certain moment. ‘Truth I’m Standing On’ is a song for anyone who seems to be struggling with the current situation of the world right now, and cannot see the truth that God speaks of in His Word being seen currently, and thus, Leanna has created this song for you…well, in fact for everyone, because I guess everyone has felt during this time a sense of worry and doubt, of why we can’t see the promises of God and what He says become reality.
Throughout the rest of the album, Leanna imparts to us themes for us to ponder and think about as these melodies become songs of discussion where we talk about issues dealing with the society of today. ‘Photoshop’ tackles this issue of beauty within the realms of teenage girls, and gets to the heart of what girls could do in order to make themselves (or at least their photos and images), better than what they really are. It is no secret that a lot of young people struggle with perceptions of themselves as well as body image, and so such a song that reminds us all that photoshopping is never really going to do anything or help anyone, is such a song that is as much needed now as I’m sure it’s needed at any time in society- the feeling of being judged upon appearance, whether perceived or real, is something that we know will never change as the years go by. Its just a thing that has been a niggling feeling for a lot of teenage girls around the world, across the ages. ‘Photoshop’ speaks to teenagers around the world, and their obsession to ‘look good’ even if they’re feeling rotten, to carve a certain image, even if that is far from the truth. Leanna gives us a gentle and timely reminder, that ‘…you don’t need no photoshop, don’t need to be what you’re not, you’re already a treasure, no one can make you better…’, as we see that as we believe in the truth that Christ made us as we are, that He loves us just because, we don’t have to change our appearances to seek approval from people, because we already have it from God Himself. ‘Mean Girls’ continues to bring to light issues faced by a lot of teenagers around the world right now- from image issues in ‘Photoshop’ to words and how they hurt people in ‘Mean Girls’. We all know that high school is a battleground for people who are picked on and bullied every day, and maybe ‘Mean Girls’ is drawing from Leanna’s personal experience, or maybe she knows someone who has been bullied real bad when they were at school. Regardless, the picture is painted to set the scene- the persona is feeling it from the verbal jousting that kids in high school seem to have, and we are met with the notion that yes, sticks and stones hurt, but words are just as bad- often than not, the person bullying will forget the incident before the end of the day, but the one being bullied may carry their scars for a lifetime. ‘Mean Girls’ is a reminder for us all to think before we speak, and to empathise with people who may have copped a lifetime of bullying, often in one day.
‘This is What They Meant’ boasts a ukulele as Leanna unveils a story of salvation, maybe her own, as she imparts to us what happens when someone accepts Jesus into their life, and grasps fully the unconditional and unwavering love Christ has for each of us- to the point where He dies and rises again to bring us back to Himself. ‘This is What They Meant’ is a telling reminder that when we invite the Lord into our lives, it may not be instant, but along the journey when we are walking with Christ, we are to experience a lot of great things that come our way because of it- ‘…grass is greener on the other side, most of the time that’s just a lie, but since the day I saw the light, it’s never been so true, the sky is bluer, the sun is brighter, the lows ain’t so low but the highs are higher, there’s a skip in my step and my worries are lighter ever since I found you…’ Yes, this picture painted by Leanna above can seem very over-zealous, and maybe not really true on some days, but all in all, having Jesus in our lives gives us a whole new perspective and a way of actually living it. Leanna then finishes off the EP with ‘Uncool’, and her way of writing a song that gives a statement about her faith as she makes a stand in being ‘uncool’. A song that rivals ‘Jesus Freak’ in being this generation’s song of declaring of faith, regardless of what people think; we are met with an anthem that’s certain to be declared by anyone who loves music and are not ashamed about the gospel. Yes, being a Christian is uncool by the world’s standards, but then again, we know through Jesus that often by standing up for the truth, we’re gonna be ridiculed and hated upon, that’s just how it is. We know what is true, and if it means being uncool and not being hip, not ‘keeping up with the trends’ and not ‘being tolerant of people of different beliefs’, then I guess we can be uncool then. Leanna has delivered a great anthem that’s even worthy of being a radio single sometime in the future. Well done Leanna for this song, and arguably one of my favourites on this EP.
Leanna’s new EP is full of hope and powerful songs that really challenge the way that people have acted and continue to act, especially in high-school settings as we look at how even when people are younger, the effect that assumptions, preconceptions and just plain bullying can have on an individual is gravely understated. Leanna’s new album, when it comes down to it, is primarily for the younger generation, those who have had a hard time in high school, those who are considered ‘outcasts’ for whatever reason. Leanna Crawford EP is a definite ‘crowd-pleaser’ for the high school students, and Leanna herself is fast becoming a good role model for young people everywhere. Following in the foosteps of young artists like Hollyn and Riley Clemmons, and musically (and lyrically) reminding me of artists like Matthew West and Cimorelli; Leanna’s new EP is arguably one of 2020’s best, and a set of 6 songs I’m certain I’m gonna play on repeat in the upcoming weeks and months ahead. Well done Leanna for these songs, hoping and praying that the Lord uses these to bring people healing and comfort, especially now during such a time as this!
3 songs to listen to: Photoshop, Truth I’m Standing On, Uncool
RIYL: Matthew West, Casting Crowns, Cimorelli, Riley Clemmons, Hannah Kerr, Francesca Battistelli