Save The City Records
Release Date: August 26th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Falling Together
- Fireman (feat. Canon)
- Smoking Gun (feat. Jekob)
- Low (feat. Deraj)
- Better (feat. Beleaf)
Recognised and respected for her stint as a lead singer of Souljahz and The Washington Projects, alongside her brother Je’kob, who is also a solo artist, Rachael Messini’s unique interpretation of rap, pop, soul and r&b has seen her be one of today’s most versatile female vocalists in the CCM industry. It was also one of the reasons why I was very excited to hear her solo debut album on Save The City Records. A project that has been stirring inside her for quite a while; that is musically different yet still authentic and similar to both groups she has been a part of; Honestly dropped at stores and on digital outlets this week against Bluetree, Steffany Gretzinger, Julie Elias, and Thousand Foot Krutch to name a few. One of the artists that may fly under the radar initially, in favour for the more high profile bigger label artists; I definitely encourage you all to buy or at least listen to Rachael’s 10 new songs, and let me tell you 10 reasons why, as I talk about all of the songs.
Opening the tracklist is the title track. “Honestly” is a vulnerable, personal and emotional piano ballad, with electronics littered throughout for musical variety, where Rachael pours out her heart and soul, and sings and raps about her fears and insecurities of making it as a solo artist when all she’s ever know was being in a band. As a rapper Rachael is captivating, and is just as powerful and inspiring as HillaryJane, another favourite female rapper; and hits the nail on the proverbial hammer, and reminds us that the dreams inside of us are put there by God, so we have to be honest with ourselves, and ask where our fears are really coming from. As the chorus mentions, Rachael explains that ‘…I’m too old for these games, but I’m way too young to feel this way, honestly. It’s time for yesterday to up and fly away. I’ve got so much left to say, honestly…’, and it is the chorus that assures us that we all have a part to play in life- we all have something to say, so we shouldn’t be scared or worried about how the future will play out. It’s all in God’s hands anyway, so why do we have to worry?
“Dreams”, in the middle of the album, carries on the theme of laying down everything at God’s feet and pursuing what He has placed on our heart. It’s a more focused and intentional track that is sure to encourage and inspire many, as we all have unfulfilled dreams that we’d like to accomplish, but maybe don’t have time to or don’t know how. However Rachael fervently encourages us once again with her heartfelt and confronting lyrics, with her talent in rapping and providing us with eloquent and honest lyrics giving each and every track depth and uniqueness. As Rachael declares in the bridge ‘…I close my eyes and drown out the world, let it all drift away, everything I wanna be is right here inside of me, so I can’t worry about tomorrow, I can’t worry about today, I gotta put my mind in Your hands…’; the feeling of surrender and utter abandonment to God, even when you don’t believe in yourself, is alluded to (with myself reminded of Jesus walking on the water!); and it is this song that is sure to give people a proactive push into living out their dreams instead of currently in a mundane existence. Well done Rachael for these two songs about identity, being honest and living out the dreams you were made for.
The rest of the album covers a variety of topics and contains a few surprise guest vocalists. “Falling” is a love song/rap where Rachael expertly raps about her love for her husband. Mentioning that they will both overcome any adversity and negative situation thrown at them as they believe in Jesus, the concept of faithfulness and sticking together through ‘thick and thin’, is brilliantly conveyed in the inspiring chorus as a model for all married couples or even single people, to think about, that ‘…I’ll be with you no matter what we’re going through, there is nothing that we can’t do, cause even if we fall, we’re falling together…’. “Selah”, a song driven by light keys and gentle synth, is dedicated to Rachael’s daughter of the same name, and has Rachael testifying God’s faithfulness and providence, giving God praise as He allowed her to give birth despite complications and the odds. Reminding us that God is the God of miracles, and that each life is precious to Him as He knew and loved each one of us since the beginning of time; this melody is sure to conjure up thoughts of thankfulness and gratitude for everything in our lives, as it is all for a purpose.
“Free” and “Joy”, are the final 2 tracks with only Rachael singing in the song. The mid-tempo CCM/pop radio type single “Free”, led by the synth and Rachael’s sublime and exquisite vocals, is a healing therapeutic type of track, dedicated to those who are struggling in life, where Rachael relays that Jesus’ grace and His death and resurrection covers every day of our lives, and that we can be free in Him; while the album closer, the Caribbean and reggae style “Joy”, driven by shakers, synths and unique forms of percussion, praises God for who He is, as ‘…nothing can steal my joy…’. A track to belt at the top of our lungs and shout it from the rooftops, as we lift God’s name high, this vertical worship song is a standout and favourite of mine, as Rachael sings the most overtly worship track on the album, and brings a smile to my face as I dance along to this breezy, summer feeling worship anthem fit for singing at church or at parties as well.
With her brother Je’kob no stranger to employing guest vocalists on his albums, Rachael follow suits, with 4 guest vocalists on just under half of the songs, with each enhancing the message that Rachael wants to convey to the listeners. While “Better” is a confronting wake up call, driven by electronics and synth, as Rachael encourages single ladies to run from destructive relationships with men who do not love them, and instead root their identity in Jesus Christ, and guest vocalist Beleaf directs his part of the song to the men, asking them to treat women how they would want their children to be treated; “Fireman” is more of a comforting, and edifying melody which seems to be “Better Part 2”, which is strange as “Fireman” is before “Better” on the album.
Nevertheless, Rachael and guest vocalist Canon make a great team, and they give a positive shout out and mention to the men, to those men who serve God and take care of their familles; in a similar vein to the men of the movie Courageous! Though I had to listen to the song a few times to understand the concept (Canon has massive talent, but sometimes his raps are too fast!); the message of standing up and taking on the mantle of responsibility is something that we all need to hear, especially in this society of the internet dulling decision making and social interaction.
While Je’kob makes an appearance on the courageous and daring “Smoking Gun”, as the brother and sister duo fervently, ardently, and expertly sing and rap about the perils and the pitfalls of an uncontrolled tongue, and also about the aftermath and the damage of a relationship due to the words that hurt and inadvertently destroy; the final song with a guest vocalist is “Low”, and is just as compelling, moving, heartwarming and thoughtful as the title track or “Dreams”. Featuring Deraj, the song is a slower paced ballady type of melody that explores Rachael’s plight during the time when she felt far from God. Another testimony like track, that reassures us to keep on relying on God, even when ‘…the truth is; I don’t know You anymore, not the way I want to. The truth is; I’m surviving on this storage, and I’m running low, low, low…’; “Low” reminds us gently that there is a God who can fill us up, who can recharge us when we are running on empty, and this song once again showcases Rachael’s brilliant writing, her strong vocals when either singing or rapping, and her great choices or rappers to join her on a few tracks. Well done Rachael for a vibrant, musically diverse and eclectic debut album that is sure to win souls for Christ and garner recognition and praise!
As far as debut albums go, Rachael Messini has blown this one out of the park, proverbially speaking. Rachael has blown me away literally, as this debut is the strongest lyrically and musically that I have heard since About a Mile’s self titled album in July. With plenty of genres infused in this 10 track 40 minute high octane ball of energy, from pop, r&b, soul, and rap; Rachael’s passion and heart for Jesus translates greatly to the songs, and each track is filled with honesty, vulnerability and a sense of relatability to the circumstances of the listeners. While not mentioning God explicitly, Rachael does point in His direction on a few tracks, and it’s encouraging to hear. I know someone will come to Christ because of this album, and Rachael has to be proud of this effort as well!
3 songs to listen to: Honestly,Dreams, Joy
RIYL: Beckah Shae, V. Rose,The Washington Projects, Group 1 Crew, Rhema Soul