Release Date: September 20th 2019
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Having previously unveiled their much anticipated sophomore album Live Like That in 2012; Sidewalk Prophets, fronted by Dave Frey, released their highly anticipated third studio project Something Different in 2015 (which you can read the review here!). With the music and themes being pretty much similar to what we expected on their previous albums; there was indeed something different overall about the album, definitely in a good way! Live Like That held a special place in my heart when it released- as a picture of myself was one of 300 that were chosen by the band to be included on the album cover, reflecting the theme of the album of living like Christ, and the 12 songs present on the album were quite impacting and captivating also. But Something Different also stands out to me, mostly due to the band’s musical and creative risks they take and pull off with great ease and professionalism. Fast forward 4 more years, and these guys from Nashville have quite a lot to live up to lyrically and musically. 4 years is more than enough time to create a quality single- so for me the bar was raised quite high for Dave and co., when I heard about the impending release of “Smile”. Originally popping up on my Release Radar on Spotify, I initially thought that this track would be a bit of a let-down. It’s a tad under 3 minutes, and the cover art is way cheesy.
Yet with this new release, Dave and co. have created a gem of track- one that is catchy as well as relevant. With the band borrowing a few glockenspiel riffs from Rich Mullins’ “Creed” way at the beginning of the track, we are encouraged and revitalised greatly here, as Dave emphatically reminds us that ‘…there’s always a reason to always choose joy, there’s something deeper that the world can’t destroy, smile, when you think you can’t…get up and dance…there’s a bigger plan, the storm only last for a while…’. Highlighting to us the ever-true fact that we can in fact smile in spite of our circumstances because of Jesus by our side promising us that our storms will end soon and we will see the light; “Smile” is needed to be heard by everyone going through a tough time (or even if you’re not!)- we all can use inspiration and a good pick-me-up. I thought that “Smile” was a letdown after first listen- and believe me when I say that I was all ready to write a negative review- but after multiple listens, I immediately changed my tune. These CCM veterans from Nashville are many more years wiser and mature, and as a result, their music speaks more volumes, and I’d gladly listen “Smile” countless more times in the future- as I’m sure I’ll glean something different from each listen (no pun intended!).
On the back of their successful radio friendly third album which garnered them numerous Dove Award nominations, Sidewalk Prophets and unveiled to us probably their most CCM song in “Smile” a song fit for the radio; yet a song still needed and very much relevant in today’s society whereby people are looking all glum at their own trials and tribulations. Sure we can be sad for a while, but I believe that fixing your gaze towards heaven and us remembering the promises of Jesus in the Bible; ought to be enough to bring a smile to each one of our faces. Though some would say that the band is playing it safe and not pushing the envelope musically or lyrically by releasing yet another pop song- but what I think is that Sidewalk Prophets have found their niche market, their style of music they feel that God is wanting them to pursue. Who knows, perhaps their 4th album, whenever it releases, will feature more ‘out-of-the-box’ tracks in terms of music. But until then, “Smile” is all we have left. And though the song may not resonate with you right now; I guarantee you that giving “Smile” a second chance will be way worth it. A great track as we await studio album #4; well done guys, you deserve all the praise!
RIYL: The Afters, Sanctus Real, Building 429, Big Daddy Weave