Capitol Christian Music Group
Release Date: July 7th 2017
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The Sound of Surviving
Yes, I know, this indeed can seem like overkill when I review yet another Nichole Nordeman song just a week after I reviewed her title track from her upcoming album Every Mile Mattered releasing at the end of the month…and especially when the album is releasing at the end of the month, surely I can just wait a little and review this song with the others then, right? Maybe, I can, but hearing this song a few times, and then a few times more, I figured that I cannot not say anything about this song, when it has become one of my favourite Nichole Nordeman songs ever. Yes, ever. And shall I say that Nichole is perhaps one of CCM’s most lyrically ingenious and poetically honest songwriters of this generation? Never once has she written a song without as much heart, hope, encouragement and hard truth as this upcoming song, and perhaps, if this new album is as vulnerable and challenging as ‘The Sound of Surviving’ and ‘Every Mile Mattered’, then this album will be one of my favourite albums from Nichole since Woven And Spun back in 2002!
So what is this song about? What makes ‘The Sound of Surviving’ one of the most impactful songs from Nichole, ever? What is it about this song that has released in the last week that has impacted myself so much as to write a mini-review of sorts based upon the song and its themes? Why? Why not wait for the end of July so as to write the review of the whole album, this song included? Let me just say this- “The Sound of Surviving”, though it is as mainstream as they come (never once does Nichole utter ‘Jesus’ or say anything about the cross or forgiveness or the resurrection), is as impactful as many other worship songs that have released over the years. The essence of the song in a nutshell is this- ‘The Sound of Surviving’ speaks of just that- surviving. Because sometimes in life, that is all we can do. I know we all have been called by the Lord to thrive and not survive, that if we are in Christ, we are called to accomplish greater things than even Jesus; but sometimes during the mundane and monotonous, we realise that all we are just doing is surviving. ‘The Sound of Surviving’ is just for situations like this- for people who are just surviving, and winning at that. People who are hanging on by a thread, who are struggling to keep it together 100% of the time (that’s like, all of us!). The song is an anthem, and while it doesn’t mention Jesus, I am fully convinced that it is the Lord that gives us the strength and courage to keep going, and keep surviving.
As Nichole wrote in a blog about the song and what it means to her, ‘…it’s easy to talk about something hard that’s far behind us. The struggle, (that one, waaay back there), once paralyzing, but now safely in the blurry distance. So we say blurry, distant things about it. We exhale gratitude and relief for whatever it is we walked through. Climbed over. Defeated. We love and lean in for stories with redemptive endings. That was then, we say to each other, with fresh eyes toward the future. Those words come easily. But it’s harder for our hearts to find words when we are in the very center of the fight. The right now of a crisis. It’s hard for our soul to find a song that sings clear and strong from a place of fear and trembling…What does the sound of surviving really sound like? In real life? It is not the roar of warrior on a mountain top. It is not some chest thumping holler or victory lap. It is decidedly not a string of feel good phrases or clichéd comfort. It is, so often, a small and lonely whisper into the darkness. I’m still here. It is the tiniest shimmer of belief that even in the valley of the shadow of death, you are not walking, or falling, or crawling alone…’ What a comfort to know that even in the valley of death’s shadow, we are not alone, even if we feel like we are. The song is a reality check, that sometimes life is hard, and that surviving is a struggle. And that at times, we have to convince ourselves daily (or even as the Lord to encourage us) that we are still here for a reason that the Lord knows about, even if we don’t fully know ourselves. We have to remember that the fear that we’re feeling that we’re not good enough to show our talents and our stories to the world ought to be a fuel for us to prove the doubters wrong- and often these doubters are ourselves, the people around us, even our closest friends and family. Whatever the case, surviving this life isn’t as easy as we once thought it was. Hopefully this is a song that encourages us all to sing this anthem with heart and hope, knowing that the Lord is with us every step of the way!
Nichole is a lyrical genius, and it is a great to hear what she has to offer this year, and if it is anything like ‘Every Mile Mattered’ or ‘The Sound of Surviving’, or anything like The Unmaking EP a couple of years ago; then Every Mile Mattered is destined to be a favourite of mine in 2017. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing to survive during our lives, because sometimes, that is all we can do at that moment. And we have to be ok with that, with not having the capacity to thrive all the time. Because sometimes, all we need to do is just step back and recharge and survive because anything else would just take a toll on our sanity. We may not see that God can use whatever mess we’re in and turn it around for His glory. But He can. And He does. And He will. Nichole shows us in this song that everything we experience is shaped by God. Everything. And that and that alone ought to encourage us to appreciate whatever experience we have. With around a 10 year wait for a new full length album from Nichole (The Unmaking was an EP), this is certainly and definitely worth the wait, from an artist that’s certain to leave a wonderful and much-respected mark on not only the CCM industry but on the music industry as a whole whenever she does move onto another area if God calls her to do so. ‘Every Mile Mattered’ and ‘The Sound of Surviving’ are both certainly teasers of what is to come on her new album, and if it is anything like these tracks in any way, then this maybe, just maybe, will be her most refined, mature, lyrically heartfelt and encouraging album to date! Well done Nichole for this track, can’t wait to the full-length album at the end of July 2017!
3 songs to listen to: The Sound of Surviving x 3, and then three more times. It’s that good. Maybe even one of my favourite Nichole Nordeman songs ever!
RIYL: Andrew Peterson, Sara Groves, Bebo Norman, Jason Gray, Josh Wilson