Release Date: August 19th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Stranger on the Earth
- Broken and Humbled
- Dear Life
‘…Britt Nicole is an artist who has inspired me in my music career! Her love for the Lord is evident in her music and life. I got to see her in concert when I was 11 years old. After the concert, I attended her meet & greet. I shared with her that I wanted to be a singer/songwriter and she prayed for me and my music career right there on the spot! I will never forget how she took the time to encourage me! As a young girl, that meant so much to me! That moment inspired me to take the time to pray and connect with people I get to meet at my shows…’ With many new artists releasing a wide array of EP’s and albums in 2016 thus far, from artists like The Thomas Sisters, Urban Rescue, Rebekah White, We are Messengers, Magen Thurman, Jordan Smith, Seth and Nirva and Jordan Feliz; it’s sometimes tiring to even check out any other new artist, especially with all the ones we have been introduced to already. But herein lies the point- sometimes often than not, it is the newer artists that sometimes capture something when they release an album that sadly some veteran artists seem to miss. They have an energy, enthusiasm and an encouragement that is infectious and uplifting. Not that artists like Newsboys, Third Day, TobyMac and the like don’t have energy and enthusiasm, it’s just that along the way, artists may seemingly, knowingly or not, release music that isn’t as fresh, exciting or even challenging in a way- because somehow these artists have moved from the interesting into the mundane. Always when there’s a new artist releasing anything, or even an artist reinventing their music (a la Hawk Nelson or even Sanctus Real to a point), I tend to listen- because sometimes, they have a passion that sadly pales as each album (of any artist) progresses. Sad, but true. Here comes in Nicole ‘Coley’ Jones, releasing her very own debut EP Dear Life at age 17.
Though her first actual studio EP release, she has been to festivals and opened for artists like Big Daddy Weave, Chris August, Unspoken, Building 429, Colton Dixon and Love & The Outcome. Releasing her EP on August 19th, Nicole’s EP is one that brings us back to the acoustic guitar days, where you sing into an acoustic guitar, and no other noise or sound mattered. Which is a good thing, as Nicole presents a 4 song EP not too heavily saturated with instruments. Rather, she relies more on her voice, which sounds strikingly similar to that of JJ Heller or Lexi Elisha, as she presents in this 4 song EP about her musings on life, and her hope in that of Christ Jesus. Songs that are presented in a happy atmosphere, even if they discuss about things that are serious and need our attention; Dear Life EP is a welcomed EP that will be loved and enjoyed by anyone who loves artists like JJ Heller, Moriah Peters, Lexi Elisha or Jamie Grace.
Starting off with an acoustic introduction, “Stranger on the Earth” brings us to the forefront of what this EP is about- with the message of us being set apart, and not being of the world but instead being ‘strangers’ of sorts, knowing that this isn’t our home but rather a stepping stone as we await and long for our eternal home in heaven; Nicole delivers with such emotion and poise, presenting a somewhat innocence as she sings, in a similar vocal range to artists like Lexi Elisha, Jamie Grace, and even Bethany Dillion back in the day. With a similar theme to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Not Home Yet” or even Robert Pierre’s “Stranger in This Land”, Nicole powerfully asserts, amongst the light acoustics, that ‘…I’ll walk by faith, and not by sight, with Your strength and not my might, cause this is not my home, not where I find my worth, no, I’m just passing through, a stranger on the Earth…’, something we all need to be reminded of, how God gives us strength and that it is in Him that we find our worth and purpose. A song that encourages us to live life with a heavenly focus, this is a great song to be the first track on the EP, and one that shows us how talented Nicole’s powerful vocals are…who knows, maybe a label record deal in the future?
The remainder of the songs are just as encouraging and poignant as the first, and showcase a myriad of musical styles that Nicole can deliver, and remind us all that just because you’re young, it doesn’t mean you can’t present to others what you have and the talents you were given. At just a second under 3:00, “Masterpiece” presents the theme that the title of the song suggests- that we have been made and created by our Father, for a specific purpose, one that only ourselves can fulfil. We are His masterpiece, His workmanship, and what we undertake and pursue in this life is only because He has made us with those desires in our hearts. Light and bouncy, acoustically driven as we hear this musically fun-filled song, need us not to forget the poignancy of the message- that we are right where we are supposed to be, that what we have to give to others can only be given by ourselves and no one else. What we have to offer to the world is special, and it ought to be a privilege and a joy to be considered by God as a masterpiece. The EP also delves into the issues of us being real to God as we unveil the fact that we are broken, and that out of that brokenness comes a raw and real humble nature (“Broken and Humbled”), while the EP closer, again acoustically driven, is not the Delta Goodrem pop cover, but rather, an original song about how we ought to live life abundantly with no regrets, running ‘…for dear life from the things of evil…’ and holding ‘…on for dear life to the things of good…’ A great way to end the EP, “Dear Life” is an epiphany of sorts, as we realise that we are free in Christ Jesus, and that we should pursue everything that is good, and distance ourselves from the things of the past, the things that hinder our relationships with Christ and with others, rather than encourage and build up.
Nicole’s EP is fresh, unique, enthusiastic, and indeed, acoustic. While being an acoustically driven EP, it may not be for everyone, and that’s OK. Perhaps, artists don’t have to always deliver albums that have a myriad of musical styles, in order to capture a wide amount of audience as possible. Maybe they can just refine their craft and make the genre of music well- if they’re a worship artist, create that style of music well, and if they’re forte is rock, then create that with a passion. So many times, there are artists that try a few styles in an album, and sometimes it pays off and other times it doesn’t. Dear Life however is one of these albums that really shows us what it truly means to stick by a certain genre and record and perform it well (in this case, acoustically driven reflective songs of worship and introspection). An artist that will be thoroughly appreciated if you enjoy artists like Jamie Grace, Lexi Elisha, JJ Heller or Ellie Holcomb; Nicole’s future is very much bright- with Dear Life fastly becoming one of my favourite EP’s of 2016 thus far.
3 songs to listen to: Masterpiece, Stranger on the Earth, Dear Life
RIYL: Jamie Grace, Moriah Peters, JJ Heller, Britt Nicole