Word Label Group
Release Date: April 27th 2018
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Right Where You Want Me
- Feel the Waters
- Something About You
Sarah Reeves, the latest addition to the Word Label Group artist roster, is in good company. Artists like Francesca Battistelli, Sidewalk Prophets, Big Daddy Weave, Stars Go Dim, Meredith Andrews, Love & the Outcome, Chris August and Blanca, to name a few, are all on a record label that is one of Christian music’s biggest labels (alongside Capitol CMG and Provident Label Group). And while now we are starting to hear and see Sarah and her music for what it is- unique, powerful and heartfelt, she has been around the industry for quite some time. Since unveiling her debut EP titled Sweet, Sweet Sound way back in 2009, she has continued to show us her talent, even throughout these last 10 years, she’s been under the radar and very underappreciated…until now, that is. Following up Sweet, Sweet Sound with another EP in 2010 (God of the Impossible) and a full-length indie album in 2011 (Broken Things); sad to say, that after her 2011 album that featured her popular song ‘Mighty Wave’, we didn’t hear from her for quite some time. She didn’t really post much on social media and youtube, aside from worship music covers with just her and the piano. But after 2011, there wasn’t any new music, until when she signed to Word Records in 2017- after that, she went on a release frenzy. Songs like ‘Nowhere’, ‘Details’, ‘Right Where You Want Me’, ‘Something About You’ and ‘Feel the Waters’ followed, and that led to a culmination of songs that released on an EP titled Easy Never Needed You, a collection of 7 tracks (5 of which have released prior) that dropped last week Friday. This collection of songs shows us much growth for Sarah, as she embarks on the journey to release more new material as the months progress (we hear from a press release that this EP is just vol. 1 in her new chapter and journey, so I guess all we can do is stay tuned!). And so, how is the flow and cohesiveness of Easy Never Needed You, considering that 5 out of the 7 we’ve heard before in the form of digital singles over the last year? Does this EP stand tall amongst other EPs of Sarah’s in the past? Let’s just say that this project has a lot of experimentation in terms of electronic music, some songs providing the right effect and others not so. Nevertheless, Sarah is bold in what she releases, and this project is evidence that she can delve into acoustic, pop, dance, praise; she can be versatile if needed.
‘Nowhere’ released as a single way back in April last year, and Sarah’s first track that was unveiled from this EP, is one of hope and comfort, as Sarah reminds us all that ‘…there’s nowhere that I can run, there’s nowhere that I can hide, when I feel like I’m alone, Your love and my heart collide…’, a notion that God always chases and runs after us, no matter how far we run or hide, but also when He does find us, He does so with a heart of love, giving us comfort and healing in moments where we need it the most. Eloquent and inspiring, we are marvelled at the fact that Sarah’s voice is just as powerful and emotive now as it was back then when she was signed to Sparrow Records, in fact now, there seems to be much more freedom in terms of music expression compared to previously. ‘Details’, a song that was a follow-up to ‘Nowhere’ and released in July 2017, when I reviewed the album way back when, I was impressed with the message, but was harsh and critical on the music itself, saying, and I quote, ‘…this song is good in message, but seemingly lacking in musical direction and cohesiveness. Not to discount anything from Sarah and her heart for music and worship, not at all. But rather, this song sounds less like Sarah and more like Capital Kings or V. Rose. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, maybe she wants to branch out into a different style and that’s ok. But more often than not, when I listen to a worship artist, I somehow expect, rightly or wrongly, a song that resembles something like a worship song. “Details” is a track where its pluses are that it is musically inventive and unique, but for a worship/pop song? No. Just no…’ Yes, I did write that, and upon reflection, I was way too critical. Here in 2018, I have since heard more EDM songs from Sarah, and thus, I may probably write another review of ‘Details’ in the future, as my very own outlook has shifted greatly. ‘Details’ has grown on me, yet even now, I myself am hesitant at listening to any worship that has an EDM feel (because I myself aren’t fully reconciled about what worship music is and what it should sound like). Nevertheless, Sarah’s music over the past little while has challenged my own assumptions and assertions about worship music in general, and if I were to give a review again of ‘Details’, it’ll be much more positive. Both ‘Details’ and ‘Nowhere’ were songs that gave us anticipation all throughout 2017, and now in 2018, we hear the rest of the 7 songs that encapsulate Easy Never Needed You, all, if not most, challenge us as to what we are to believe worship music looks and sounds like.
‘Right Where You Want Me’ carries on from ‘Details’ and continues the EDM sound that Sarah has been exploring since 2017. As Sarah divulges, about not only this song, but what the vibe of the whole forthcoming album will be about, we hear her say that ‘…the past two years I have been on a journey of writing, creating and developing a sound…a sound that has been stirring in me for a long time. For so long the ‘worship leader’ and the ‘artist’ in me battled one another. I was scared, of what people might think if my worship looked and sounded different. After surrendering that fear, I tapped into a freedom of creativity that I’ve never experienced before. I let go of what I knew and just started writing from my heart. Out came melodies, sounds and lyrics that inspired me and made me come alive. I guess this journey has been finding myself in a way…’ A song where worship, pop and EDM collide, ‘Right Where You Want Me’ is a song to listen to in the car or at home…or maybe incorporate into Sunday morning worship services, because…why not? We all as society have a set structure about what worship music should be that we don’t all the Lord to move, especially in the ways can could seem foreign to us on the surface. Sarah’s song is unique and bold, anthemic and heartfelt, emotive and poignant, even progressive and challenging, as there ought to be more artists like her that can challenge worship music and reinvent and revolutionise what we think it ought to sound like compared to what God says it should be. With the first verse starting with the hard-hitting truth that ‘…if I’m a target for the enemy, then it means I’m where I’m supposed to be, there’s a war that’s raging over me, but I know the One who holds the victory…’, how can you not love it, a track that has been challenging in my own life of late, as I’m reminded that where I am right now is where I’m supposed to be. That God has placed me where I am for a reason, even if it not known to me, and thus, I have to be faithful and trust that whatever is in store for myself in the future is far greater and beyond anything that I can even comprehend or imagine at this moment!
‘Something About You’ is perhaps one of the most unique songs Sarah has recorded, ever, and accompanied with a vibrant and colourful music video, we are invited into the moment where Sarah indicates that there is something about Jesus, that gets her excited about life and living, about sharing His love and wanting to sing and shout and be excited about what He has done not only in her life individually but for everyone as a human race. Musically out-of-the-box, Sarah’s unique song and video are a standout on the EP. Another unique standout, and last pre-release song is ‘Feel the Waters’, a song that isn’t necessarily a vertical worship song, but rather a song about marriage and relationships. ‘Feel the Waters’ is a love song (a romantic one) rather than a song about Jesus, the Christian life and our struggles, often topics that have been discussed at one time or another in Sarah’s music before. As Sarah divulges herself, ‘…[Feel the Waters] is unlike anything I’ve ever released before because it’s actually a love song to my husband! It’s vulnerable and personal as it tells the redemption story of our once broken marriage. There are too many songs out there about breakups and giving up. This is our story of forgiveness, enduring hardships and fighting for the greater love. It’s romantic and I actually got the first line of the chorus straight from scripture – Song of Solomon 4:11 – ‘The kisses of your lips drip honey’. God created romance and I’m not afraid to sing about it! I pray that this inspires you whether you’re married, single or dating. Love is worth fighting for…’ And therefore this above quote is the essence of the song as a whole. It is a realisation that true love between spouses is one worth fighting for. That the trials and difficulties are all worth it because we know that it is in the midst of these difficulties that God refines couples and encourage them to re-discover their own love and passion for each other (and hopefully encourage each other in their walk with God in the process).
‘Speechless’ and ‘Faithful’ are the two remaining songs that haven’t been released to iTunes prior to album release day…and maybe that’s ok. It presents and sense of mystery and intrigue for many fans of Sarah’s, as we hear these new songs and see if they fit well on the EP or not. And fit in they do. ‘Speechless’, track 7, features an accompanying music video, and is by far one of the most musically unique songs she has recorded, as ethereal nature sounds are incorporated into the track (rain drops, rainforest sounds etc) to differentiate this track from others (and thus draw more people into a song that ought to leave us all speechless!). ‘Faithful’, another original track, was recorded as a piano only one a few years ago, and was co-written with her husband. The track itself shows us all that God is faithful even if we are not, that even if we can’t see the hand of God moving, He still does. Written during a time of uncertainty and hardship, Sarah Reeves and her husband Philip Kothlow have made ‘Faithful’ their anthem over the last little while, and hopeful, we too can use such a song as our own anthem in our lives as the months and years progress!
There you have it… Easy Never Needed You! And even though this new EP from Sarah is quite possibly the most different set of songs she’s ever written and recorded in her career thus far; it is good to see Sarah experimenting with songs out of her comfort zone. And with songs like “Nowhere”, “Right Where You Want Me”, “Something About You” and “Feel the Waters” anchoring the album musically and lyrically, this new EP is certainly one to be excited for if you enjoy music with a worshipful and alternative edge. Sarah Reeves is an artist that, still relatively up and coming even after quite some time, will hopefully receive the recognition she deserves after this new EP. Well done Sarah for this set of songs, here’ hoping there’s a full-length album release sometime in the future!
3 songs to listen to: Right Where You Want Me, Something About You, Nowhere
RIYL: Meredith Andrews, Christy Nockels, Mia Fieldes, Kari Jobe