Release Date: December 11th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Paul Colman– Recalculating EP 1 (CDBaby)
- Get Up and Go
- Saturday Night
- The One Thing (Live)
- The Best is Yet to Come (Live)
- Recalculate (Acoustic Remix)
‘…I’ve never been attracted to lyrics that explain everything. I love a good degree of ambiguity. For a while I tried to please the CCM markets desire for absolute clarity and it’s just not me. I like to write in a way that followers of Jesus understand but that those who do not follow him can still enjoy without being beaten over the head with the message…’ You see artists that have gone before. Switchfoot, needtobreathe, Skillet, Carrie Underwood, Lifehouse, even Plumb in her early years. Artists who are firm in their faith but minister in both the Christian and mainstream music industries. Songs by these artists that have impacted and influenced listeners who enjoy both (or either) styles/genres of music. Enter in Paul Colman, a seasoned veteran who has had his time in the Paul Colman Trio and the newsboys once upon a time.
While his most recent EP Recalculate EP 1 has a fair degree of ambiguity as to whether he is alluding to Christ in his songs or not; Paul’s heart is still true- with these songs being recorded as a vessel for connection between him and his listeners. A song doesn’t have to be declared about Christ, for it to be Christ-inhabited, which is what I believe these songs on Recalculating are. Paul, like many artists before, and many artists after, is one that has walked the line of ministering to Christians and lovers of mainstream music alike, and has walked the line well. From the title track “Recalculate” to the guitar driven short but ever poignant “Get Up and Go” to live renditions of “The One Thing” and “The Best is Yet to Come”, this is a must for anyone who loves Paul and his music, loved his music when he was with the Paul Colman Trio and the newsboys, or just anyone who loves music in general and longs to be challenged about their life and where they’re headed in the future. The beauty about ambiguity in these songs is their wide appeal, which is what I think will be core in the success of Paul’s music in the months and years ahead.
With Paul releasing 3 EPs over the span of 3 months, each with 5 original songs and a bunch of bonus tracks, this first collection of songs is as poignant as ever. “Get Up and Go” is an honest and somewhat sobering account of us getting up and getting whatever we want in our lives, and while the song makes no reference to Christ, it does remind us all that our God-given potential that we all have inside of us sometimes has to be awakened and chased after, as we make the first moves ourselves instead of sitting back and believing that God has our futures mapped out. Sure, He does, and there’s no doubting that fact, yet this song smacks us in the face with reality, that most times we have to ‘…want it, you gotta need it, you gotta get serious, you gotta get up and go…’ With looping percussion, electronic effects, an acoustic undertone and Paul’s lyrics that hit hard for the listener, no matter what faith persuasion they are, “Get Up and Go” is a great first song to an album that continues to deliver a constant flow of emotive truths as the songs go by.
The rest of the album, just like “Get Up and Go”, follow a pattern, of recalculating and restoration, re-evaluation and realigning as we take stock of our lives and see what has transpired thus far, and whether the events in our lives have helped us or hindered us from being the people we know Christ has called us to be. “Recalculate”, the title track, is a message of hope and encouragement, as Paul gives us a timely reminder that it’s never too late to recalculate- to make a u-turn if you will in our lives, knowing full well that Christ Himself has given His love so we can do that in the first place. As Paul declares in the chorus that ‘…it don’t matter if you lost your way, it don’t matter, just recalculate…’, listeners are able to hear the hope and optimism in Paul’s voice, as this song, as with many on his EP, will hopefully reach lovers of mainstream music just as much as lovers of Paul and the CCM industry. “Recalculate” (Acoustic Remix) is another rendition of the title track, this time with much more percussion and acoustic guitars, as we see yet another side of Paul we don’t really know. Having the ability to highlight the lyrics with the same poignancy without much instrumentation is a gift in and of itself, which is clear in this new recording. The acoustic remix of “Recalculate” is as much of a joy to hear compared to the original version. “The One Thing” and “The Best is Yet To Come” are also included in this EP set, both recorded live and both giving us reminders of the hope and future we have in Jesus. While neither live recorded song mentions “Jesus”, we nevertheless are given a message of declaration, declaring that Jesus is the one thing in our lives that stays constant (“The One Thing”), and declaring that our best days are ahead of us, because of Christ being for us, with us and in us (“The Best is Yet to Come”).
Throughout the rest of the final three tracks, Paul’s sense of raw and honest portrayal of what the Christian life, if you will, is, rather than what we believe it ought to be; is nicely constructed within the confines of the tracks. While each of these songs, like their predecessors, don’t allude to anything relating to Christianity on a ‘surface’ sense, these songs still encourage us in our walk with Christ. “Indestructible”, featuring heavy acoustic guitars and hand claps, remind us all of who we are in Christ- indestructible. As we bear witness to what we experience in our lives, we know full well that God is in each moment, moulding us and shaping our outlook, on others, life and God Himself. “Saturday Night” is a fun groovy song certain to fit in any 1970s/80s bar in any Aussie pub, as this song is a clear reminder of the Aussie culture in its best form. While the song hardly reminds us all about sin, the grave, and the resurrection of our Father, it does deliver some hard-hitting lyrics in the form of how ‘…I wanna sing way more than a song on the radio, I wanna bring, bring more than a beat on a stereo…’, as we as a humanity realise that we want something far more than just the pleasurable here and now, we want something that lasts, months and years into the future. God’s image is in us, meaning that our longing for something more than the here and now is in fact God-given, which is what this song strangely is a timely reminder of.
“Someday” is Paul’s most heartfelt song I’ve heard since “Pray” on PC3’s 2003 album One. A song that depicts many scenarios of men and women in difficult situations, and then having the chorus assert that an answer to their questions will come someday, we are reminded about just that- that whatever we’re feeling and whatever question we’re longing to be answered will come, in time. That sometimes we aren’t necessarily as patient as we long to be. The bridge especially ought to give us hope- ‘…if you can’t seem to find the beat, and all you see is your defeat, just hold, hold onto the promises, redemption finds a way, where there is no way…’ Waiting is a game even I sometimes struggle with, yet this song is a comfort that the timing’s of the Lord’s is far better than the timing of you and I. Well done Paul for such a comforting and confronting song, and my favourite on Recalculating!
Three years and 5 new tracks later, Paul’s latest effort may be his most mature, lyrically and musically, yet. Paul Colman has been around the industry for a while, and with credentials like Paul Colman Trio, his solo career and a stint in the Newsboys, Paul’s music is a must-hear for anyone who loves Paul’s previous roles (Newsboys, PC3), or those who love acoustic pop with a spiritual message. It is the ambiguity in the messages that I’m sure will work well for Paul and his music. From songs like “Someday” and the mainstream-esque “Saturday Night” to the title track and the go-getting “Get Up and Go”; this is Paul’s most personal album set yet, and one that’ll continue to propel him to new heights in the years to come. Well done Paul for such an honest, real, raw and heartfelt EP. Can’t wait til EP #2 in a few months!
3 songs to listen to: Recalculate, Saturday Night, Someday
RIYL: Newsboys, Paul Colman Trio, Phil Joel, Grant Norsworthy