Release Date: April 1st 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Only Ever Always
- Need U On Repeat
- I’m Not Lucky, I’m Blessed
- Look What God Has Done
- End of the Day
- Start from There
- Nothing Surprises You
- You Got This
- Lookin’ Up
- Same Page
- I’ll Find You
- Moving On
Back in 2013, Word Label Group signed Canadian husband and wife duo Love & The Outcome, who have come to be one of my favourite duos ever- along with for KING & COUNTRY. Though Jodi King and Chris Rademaker have not had an easy road to recognition and prominence; both felt a calling on their hearts to make music, and thus began their trek across the border from Canada to the U.S a number of years ago; into the great unknown and the vastness of uncertainty. Being from another country, they had to pack up their bags (literally), acquire a new place of residence, and say goodbye to everything they’ve ever known. Jodi has recorded a few albums as a solo artist (you can view the music videos here– all of the albums have been removed from the internet!), but eventually included her husband on one of her own unreleased solo studio albums, and then changed the direction of the album from a solo focus to a band focus. Thus, the journey of recording the self-titled debut Love & The Outcome, which released in 2013.
With the debut album having four producers (Seth Mosley, David Garcia, Jeff Pardo and Ben Glover), the seamless easy to listen 11 tracks of hope, testimony, and encouragement, wrapped up in the genre of pop, with plenty of upbeat tracks next to transparent heartfelt ballads; was one of my highlights of 2013. Jodi’s vocals are sublime all throughout, as is Chris’s guitar playing. And the lyrics are what really gets me; they’re very personal and emotional, not necessarily something you’d see on a debut album- probably a third or fourth album, but not a debut. That’s what makes these Canadians special, as they’re willing to branch out and defy expectations, and sing about real issues, even if these issues have a solution and especially if they don’t. Fast forward to now, and apart from a sophomore album These Are The Days and an expanded edition of that same album (read both reviews here and here!), as well as a Christmas EP and acoustic stripped down EP The Ocean Way Sessions; the duo are back for their third full length studio album Only Ever Always– their most honest and vulnerable yet.
Only Ever Always, aside from their 2020 EP You Got This, is technically Jodi and Chris’s first new original material release in 6 years- particularly because Jodi had a couple of kids and the duo just slowed down a bit as they breathed and watched their kids grow up- of which you only have one chance. And that is commendable. So with these 13 tracks, you’d expect them to be a bit rusty, right? Nope, not at all- it’s just like riding a bike. Music is in Jodi and Chris’s blood, so nothing less than impacting and inspiring songs is what we all have been delivered on this album! The promotional single “You Got This”, a previous single in 2019, has been on the CCM charts for the better part of 2019 and in 2020 as well- and because Jon reviewed this track extensively a while ago, I’m not going to review this track at all. It’s a moot point, because I generally love all of the music that resonates with Jon, so why don’t we all read Jon’s review and then come back to this one? With this song being a firm assertion and declaration that God has all of the power and all of the control over our lives, thus we can be comforted knowing that He has a plan and His plan is perfect; this melody inspires us to live with a more kingdom and eternity mindset, knowing that He has everything all under control.
2 more songs aside from “You Got This” from You Got This EP are present in Only Ever Always. “Same Page” is a 3-minute pop tune about our total surrender to God, allowing Him to move the chess pieces of our life around so that it makes sense and that we’re both on the ‘same page’ and in total agreement. Yet for me, “Moving On”, the heartbeat of the EP, is still THE track from this album (yes, above all the other 12 tracks!) that provides us with inspiration, impact, passion, heart, and relevance. Fitting as the album closer, both Jodi and Chris make a big declaration, that we all as Christians, or even we all as humans, can move on from the pain, hurt, adversity and the sin in our lives, the things that have weighed us down for so long- we can all leave that behind and move on, as ‘…guilt has had it’s grip on me for way too long, this will be my freedom song, Hallelujah, because of You I’m moving on…Your second chances never end…’. One of my favourite songs of 2020 (and I guess also from 2022!), we are reminded that Love & The Outcome are back and back with a big bang!
“I’m Not Lucky, I’m Blessed”, the official lead single from Only Ever Always, is as catchy and as musically poppy as ever, with Jodi and Chris earnestly relaying that ‘…not one battle here did I win on my own, every bounce that ever went my way, I know, I’m not lucky, I’m blessed, I can’t deny it…why try to fight it?…I got a good life…I must confess…’. A song that unequivocally acknowledges God’s hand in our lives and His fingerprints over every situation and circumstance; this pop melody pays tribute and homage to God and His faithfulness and the miracles He has done time and time again. A song that makes us feel grateful; there could be other listeners who reckon this song could be a track that is too ‘preachy’. Although that could seem to be the case, Jodi and Chris seem to be good people and humble people; and this song only serves to highlight the King and point to Jesus. Isn’t that the point of CCM songs? Though cliché sounding, the sentiment of Jesus being the author of everything still rings true. “I’ll Find You”, a piano ballad and seemingly inspired by the hymn “It Is Well”, is the final track released before the album was unveiled today; and probably is a bit more palatable than “I’m Not Lucky, I’m Blessed”. With this powerful piano anthem declaring that Jesus is always with us and that He will never leave us, this simple yet effective melody is sure to provide comfort and healing and calmness to all who listen.
The rest of the 8 songs from Only Ever Always showcases Jodi and Chris’s strong faith in Jesus and their unwavering love for all of God’s creation- their desire to see more and more people come to Christ. The album opener and the title track reveal a more personal and honest band, as Jodi and Chris give their worries and their pain and their struggles and their questions to God. A song that shows us that we can trust God and we can rely on Him because ‘…You only ever always love me, You only ever always hold me, You only ever always show me, more than anyone You know me, I’m only ever always Yours…’, this moving and inspiring melody, though musically still cliché, nonetheless reminds us of the fact that Jesus never, ever lets us go. Unfortunately, “Need U On Repeat”, though objectively engaging and musically creative, falls flat for me, with the concept of needing God all the time and saying it to Him over and over again, being probably overdone in Christian music- see songs like “I Need You” by Rebecca St. James and Jars of Clay (2 separate songs!). “Look What God Has Done”, another ho-hum melody, isn’t bad per se; but if you’ve heard similar songs like “Look What You’ve Done For Me” (Tree63), “Faithful” (Hawk Nelson) and “Autobiography” (Stars Go Dim), then you’ve probably heard the essence of this one- it’s a straight forward testimony like track that brings the glory back onto God.
“End Of The Day” is another solid, albeit still cliché, melody, with Jodi and Chris passionately relaying to us that God has everything under control, that ‘…at the end of the day, the sun still sets in the colors of a thousand promises, the beauty of it all I won’t forget, nothing’s gonna change a word You’ve said, hey if the stars still shine then maybe everything’s gonna be alright, even in the dark there’s just enough light to say we’re all gonna be ok…’; while the groovy, musically different track “Start From There” is a welcome change to the CCM- it’s an 80’s themed disco themed song where the duo fervently relay to us that disagreements and heated arguments with other believers, or even with other humans who aren’t believers, shouldn’t be the be all and end all of all relationships. With this song brilliantly conveying the fact that we all can be kind to each other and have relationships without seeing eye to eye on everything, Jodi and Chris sing about seeing things from the other person’s view- this melody is undoubtedly one of my favourites from Only Ever Always!
The piano prominent “More”, similar in theme to “More” from Matthew West, speaks about God seeing us as beautiful, holy, valuable, and worthy in His sight, even when we don’t. It’s a song that is an uplifter and speaks about how our self-worth should be based on how our Father in heaven sees us; while “Nothing Surprises You” powerfully and effortlessly unveils the ever-true concept of realising that God is in control, and that even in the worst days of our lives, we can rest in the promise that nothing surprises God, that He is working in the midst of the chaos, and that ‘…I might be shaking but I’m not shaken, when my heart’s breaking, no I won’t break, I’m scared but it’s ok, I might not know the way, but nothing surprises You…’. “Looking Up”, a groovy pop/rock dance melody, is different to anything Love & The Outcome have recorded before; however the sentiment in this song is similar to all of the songs in this album- an uplifting melody pointing to Jesus as the One who will always be here and who will only ever always never leave us
For me personally, I love both of Love & The Outcome’s debut album and sophomore album These Are The Days very much- with these songs being an extremely honest portrayal of the trials and tribulations of a young Canadian couple and how they’ve found life in America, and how God has remained faithful through every situation. So, after my analysis of this new album Only Ever Always, should you all go ahead and buy the songs, or at least stream them on Spotify? Of course, you can never go wrong with some music from Jodi and Chris, who remind me of Britt Nicole vocally and Stu G musically respectively; and both of them ought to be congratulated, for recording their music after a long time away from the spotlight and both of them sounding never better! This album isn’t as dynamic nor as emotional as their previous two albums, but it’s still one of the best CCM albums out at the moment. Well done guys, I can’t wait for what comes next in the future! A Christmas album?
When our house flooded, we heard this a lot, and it made us feel like God was forcing this tragedy on us so we could learn something…? We all mean well, but it’s hurtful, not helpful to push away pain. May we choose honesty even when it’s hard. Friends that sat in the rubble of our house and let us cry are such a gift. May we avoid wrapping everything in a bow and a bright side, making people feel like their faith wasn’t strong enough, or that their sin was the cause. Let’s not dismiss grief. Let’s mourn with those who mourn, let’s show up with chocolate cake and Kleenex and be together like Jesus is with us in all things. If you are suffering right now, you are not alone.
3 songs to listen to: Start From There, I’ll Find You, Moving On
RIYL: Francesca Battistelli, Jaime Jamgochian, Lindsay McCaul, Sara Bareilles, Jamie Grace, Point Of Grace