Word Label Group
Release Date: September 23rd 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The God I Know
- Ends Of The Earth
- Good Life
- If I Don’t Have You
- Hear From You
- These are the Days
- Louder Closer Deeper
- Seek and Find
‘…I feel like it’s a really good progression into something a little more honestly us. Chris is a bass player by trade, and I play a drum and a keyboard but I grew up playing piano and singing. So we wrote the whole record with those components and filled it out around it instead of sort of making it with a full record of band tracks and then trying to pull it off on stage. So we really wanted to write everything off of the bass riff and my drum, and then I would start singing. That’s how it was all composed…’ Since bursting onto the scene in 2013 with their self titled album, Love & The Outcome have had a whirlwind of a three years between their first album and their follow up, These Are the Days, that dropped on iTunes and other major retailers this last week. Signing to Word Label Group, home to many other artists like Zealand Worship, We are Messengers, Group 1 Crew, Big Daddy Weave, Chris August, Francesca Battistelli and Meredith Andrews to name a few; this duo consisting of husband and wife Chris Rademaker and Jodi King, have continued to deliver to us hit after hit, making what I reckon is easily one of 2016’s best.
These are the Days is certainly worth the three year wait after what I initially thought was going to be a one album wonder (as with many new artists these days). In spite of my thoughts, this Canadian duo are back, making their second effort arguably one of the most seamless transitions from a first album debut to a second album that I’ve heard ever since Colton Dixon’s 2013 and 2014 albums, A Messenger and Anchor respectively. The duo continues to weave together Jodi’s melodically pop sound with the prominence of Chris’s bass guitar, while still littering through the album a distinct 1980s influence, all the while always focusing on the lyric material ahead of any other facet that the album has. These Are the Days has a strong message of hope and looking forward, of taking stock and treasuring the memories that come away, all because of the fact that ‘…these are the days, these are the days, the days we’ll never get back…and these days are all we have…’ (“These Are The Days”); as this collection of 13 tracks have become some of this year’s most musically unique and impressively choreographed songs I’ve heard this half of 2016 thus far. A certain purchase if you are a fan of similar artists, like Francesca Battistelli or Natalie Grant; Jodi and Chris have themselves a winner in this new album, with their first radio single, “The God I Know” already climbing the chart on both radio and iTunes.
“The God I Know”, released to radio in April 2016, is as pop as you can get, with the song just clocking a tad over 3 minutes in length. Yet while on face value, if you just look at the length and don’t even listen to the song, it could seem like the song isn’t as thought out as it could’ve been (and people could just believe that, considering that the song is actually a fade-out); what “The God I Know” really is between 0:00 and 3:16 is 3 minutes of hope and truth, as we witness arguably one of the most poignant tracks I’ve ever heard in 2016 thus far. Presented with a 1980s musical aura around the track, complete with synth keyboards, a strong bass presence and hand claps; both Jodi and Chris make the song worthwhile, reminding us all that ‘…I can throw my hands up, worries down, I remember when He showed me how to break up with my doubt, once I was lost, but now I’m found, no strings attached when He saved my soul, I want you to know The God I know…’ It is when we surrender ourselves fully to God that we can truly throw up our hands, knowing full well that our worries are taken care of.
The song is a story, a story to people who don’t believe for whatever reason, of who God is- that He is more than just a religion or a figure in the sky. That as Jodi puts it ‘…if it was all about religion, what to do, what to say, what to wear on a Sunday, all about perfection, black and white, wrong or right, never grey, well I’d never make it, I’d never be good enough…’ But the truth is this- we don’t have to be good enough, we don’t even have to do any work at all when it comes to our salvation. The song is hopefully one that will lift off our burdens. That we’d realise if we haven’t already, that it is in view of God’s love and acceptance of us as we are, that we can change ourselves, not by anything else. Jodi and Chris have given something to us that is freeing, and a definite song that’ll be on my top 30 songs list at the end of the year!
Throughout the rest of the album, the duo presents a variety of musical genres to bring in an equally vast number of listeners from all walks of musical appreciation. Starting off the album with “Strangers”, the song harkens us all the way back to the 1980s complete with strong drum beats, police siren sounds and electronic synth keyboards, as the message of us being strangers here on Earth while we focus our eyes ahead towards Heaven is conveyed in such a track. Musically captivating and nostalgic, “Strangers” invites us all to welcome such a message, as we as Christians acknowledge that even though we are strangers, we still nevertheless ought to shine where we are, showing whomever we are in relationship and comradery with, God’s love and grace. “Galaxies”, “If I Don’t Have You”, “Palaces” and “Gates” are all worshipful and all are presented in a reflective manner. All remind me a little bit of the 1980s/1990s throwback synth-pop sounds as the duo draws upon artists like U2 and The Police as influences of the musical landscape of the album as a whole.
“Galaxies” delves into the notion that God is a God who knows all the galaxies yet still longs and wants to have an intimate relationship with each one of us, even to the point of us understanding that ‘…your ways are far beyond my ways, your thoughts are far beyond my thoughts…your words demanding galaxies, your love is holding gravity…’; while “If I Don’t Have You”, a radio friendly song that could potentially become the next official single, gives us comfort yet equal moments of confrontation in the compelling lyrics that ‘…I don’t want the world if I don’t have You, I don’t want it all if it means I lose You, I’ve tasted and I’ve seen enough to know it’s You I need…’ With acoustics and Jodi’s passionate voice a la Francesca Battistelli; Love & The Outcome deliver a song that I’m sure will make us all look deep within ourselves and wonder- do we really believe that if we don’t have God with us, in us and flowing through us, then we don’t have anything at all?
“Gates”, co-written with Francesca Battistelli (and also featuring Francesca in an acoustic video of the song) is as worshipful as they come as the duo declare, alongside the pulsating drum and synth keyboards that ‘…I will run through the gates with thanksgiving and praise, into the place where freedom’s found, where all my fears come crashing down, I will run through the gates…’ While I reckon the song won’t be as popular or impactful as other songs like “Strangers” or “The God I Know”; what I reckon “Gates” could be is a song fit for a Sunday morning worship service song set-list… and I wouldn’t be surprised if that occurs in the near future.
“Palaces” slows down the tempo even more to incorporate a more 1980s music influence in Gameboy sounds and lasers, underpinning a track that presents to listeners where our source of life is from. It is when I hear such a track as “Palaces”, I can be reminded that what we amass here on earth, our own little palaces, cannot compare to the big palace Christ is preparing for us in heaven. It is in the humble and hopeful words that start the song, that places things in perspective- ‘…if I climb a mountain it won’t be cause I’m strong, if I face the giant it won’t be cause I’m tall, if I soar across the ocean, it won’t be on my wings, if I win the battle it will on my knees…’ We can’t do anything without God, and “Palaces” is a song that reminds us of this- in fact, “Palaces” is the track to hear if you only hear one song on the album- Jodi and Chris utilise and present a very current and relevant message in such a way that shows us what it means for an artist of today to still influence listeners with yesterday’s music!
With the duo continuing to rely on 1980s synths to relay the rest of the songs as much as the songs I’ve aforementioned and discussed; we hear and experience a variety of themes relevant to today, all with the musical similarity to that of songs of yesteryear…which isn’t a bad thing, except someone who is a fan of current CCM isn’t going to necessarily be satisfied with this album, and that’s ok. Love & The Outcome are taking much more risks with their music this time around, and it is paying off for the most part. “Ends of the Earth” is a powerpop anthem if ever there was one, with the song presenting to us a theme of surrender and devotion as Jodi declares that she will follow God to the end of the earth- that’s how far love for the Father for her goes, and that’s how far our love for Him as Christians should go; while “Hear From You” is a much more subdued melody with primarily the keyboard as the instrument in the forefront, as both Jodi and Christ invite the Lord to come speak to them, reminding us that often in times of trials (as with times of triumph too), we need to allow God to speak, even if it means for us to delete all the clutter in our lives and wait for Him to just speak to us with no distractions. The title track, a tad under 3 minutes, is an urgent call for us all to wake up and realise that the time we have keeps ticking by, that ‘…these are the days, the days we’ll never get back…and these days are all we have…’ As things are placed in perspective, we are reminded through Jodi’s humble approach, that the time we have right now is precious, and how we fill it is a reflection on how much we believe our time here on earth is worth- to ourselves as well as others.
‘Louder Closer Deeper’, similar to ‘Gates’, has a worshipful message at the forefront, and is thematically, and at times musically similar to that of Bethel Music’s ‘Closer’. A song that delivers to us a powerful message of how we can often find the Lord within the rubble and mess, and that the experiences that come out of what we have lost, can indeed bring us closer to Him; Jodi and Chris have created quite possibly one of my favourite ‘worship’ tracks I’ve heard since from a primarily CCM artist since Building 429’s ‘Be With Us Now (Emmanuel)’. With the poignancy of the chorus, and how ‘…if I lose my voice, I will only hear You speak louder…lose it all, I will only find You…closer, death to life, tears to laughter, You work all things to take me deeper…’, the duo have created what I reckon is one of the most vulnerable songs on the album, if not the most vulnerable.
“Paradise”, alongside “Good Life”, are the representatives of what you would call ‘mainstream’ songs, each reminding us that sometimes a song that speaks to us on a deeper personal level may not necessarily be that of a faith slant like most of the album. “Paradise”, complete with 1980s style keyboard riffs that undertone the song, alludes to the message that when we are with someone we love, we are in paradise, no matter what the circumstances around us start to tell us; while “Good Life” encourages us to see life from a positive angle, and that ‘…this is a good life…it doesn’t get any better than this…’, a reminder to us all that our problems, compared to the world’s, isn’t really worth talking about and discussing. Humbling when we see what we worry about compared to the state of the world today; “Good Life”, though on the surface it seems very shallow, nevertheless evokes to us hopefully impetus and initiative to make our own lives good and great, as we look at ourselves to see what aspects of our lives we need to change or not. The album then ends with “Seek and Find”, a song that delves into doubt and uncertainty, but then leaps into the assurance that even if we don’t have all the answers, it is when we seek God’s presence and find that He is all that we need in this life and the next, all the answers pertaining to the questions we are longing to be answered will come to us as time moves along.
With the album being released on the same day as the ever anticipated American Prodigal from Crowder and the most anticipated/talked about release of the year, WOW Hits 2017; Love and the Outcome’s second album is a much improved moment where unique musical instrumentation is presented in such a way that it is captivating, impactful, encouraging and just fun-filled, as both Jodi and Chris impart to us all an atmosphere full of joy and overcoming, as compared to their debut which was borne a lot out of hardship. As said by the band themselves, ‘…this season, we’re in our first house with our first baby, onto our second album, and we just have so many miracles the Lord’s done in our life. It feels like a season of celebrating that. And I think you feel that in the record. It sounds like a joyful revolution as opposed to songs about just holding on for dear life. So, I hope fans feel that…’ Indeed a 5/5 rating, and one of my favourite albums of this year so far, the band deliver a heartfelt and much needed message of us taking each moment of every day, and making it count in our lives that we lead. With standout tracks like ‘Gates’, ‘Palaces’, ‘Louder Closer Deeper’ and the first radio single ‘The God I Know’; both Jodi and Chris have revealed their vulnerabilities to unveil 13 tracks of honesty and transparency. Well done Love & The Outcome for such an inspiring and motivational album.
4 songs to listen to: Gates, Palaces, Louder Closer Deeper, Strangers
RIYL: Natalie Grant, Francesca Battistelli, Rebecca St. James, Sixpence None The Richer, Amy Grant