Release Date: May 13th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Tasha Layton– How Far (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Help Me Let Go
- How Far
- Catch My Breath
- I Got You
- Look What You’ve Done
- Good Things
- Thank You For The No
- Into The Sea (It’s Gonna Be Ok)
- Brave Heart (Dear Daughter)
- Joy Comes
Way back at the end of 2018, BEC Recordings signed worship leader Tasha Layton – the latest artist in what seems to be a signing spree. Matty Mullins, Stephen Christian, Jorge (now known as George Mhondera), Aaron Bucks, River Valley Worship and London Gatch were all presented a spot on the label in 2017, while Brian Ortize, Free Worship and Battledrums were signed to BEC Recordings in 2018. These days, BEC Recordings looks way, way different; yet this doesn’t mean Tasha was added to the roster just to make up numbers nor for the sake of it. Rather, with Tasha’s debut EP Love Running Wild scoring a 5/5 rating, and me enjoying her brand of worship-pop music very much; let me just let you all know, that Tasha’s joy and effervescent love for Jesus has shined through on very song she has released. With Tasha’s vocals being simply extremely powerful and strong, more-so than any other debut artist over the past few years in my opinion; Tasha unveiled Into The Sea in 2020, an EP that I reviewed here, and a release that further confirmed my assertions of Tasha being one of today’s most inspiring worship leaders. The release of Look What You’ve Done – a 3 song EP in 2021, further reminds us of Tasha’s staying power and songwriting prowess- in a CCM industry that desperately needs revamping quickly in order to stay relevant and relatable. And as Tasha’s worship melodies are a breath of fresh air, we are now introduced to Tasha’s full length debut album. How Far drops to stores today; and as Tasha continues to remind us how much she is on fire for Jesus and her prowess as a songwriter and as a singer; I am continually in wonder of a God who loves me unconditionally and calls me to be in relationship with Him!
There are 6 tracks that are instantly recognisable amongst a track list of 10 melodies. Could that be a pitfall of the way artists release songs these days- release enough songs for a debut release, and have more than half the track list of a debut album instantly recognisable? Perhaps Tasha could have released a 12 or 13 or 14 track album… but this nit-pick is neither here nor there. A lyrically simple yet effective account of the gospel and a testimony-like track, “Look What You’ve Done” is an album highlight, and speaks about the cross, the grave and the fundamentals of Christianity. And as Tasha holds nothing back here in this vivid and vulnerable melody; she also declares that ‘…You spoke Your truth into the lies I let my heart believe, look at me now, look how You made me new, oh, the enemy did everything that he could do, oh, but look what You’ve done…’, and also in no uncertain terms relays that it was the cross and the grave that was the most important thing that was done and could ever be done to and for us, that ‘…on the cross, in a grave, with a stone, rolled away, all my debt, it was paid, look what You’ve done, in my heart, in my mind, in my soul, in my life, with my hands lifted high, I’m singing…’. There isn’t really much more to this song than that; and let me say that one listen from this song will solidify your faith. The song will also transform you into a Tasha Layton fan!
This song is such a testimony to God’s transforming power in my life. It was a privilege to write it with a great storyteller like Matthew, as well as my husband Keith and my friend AJ. The beautiful thing about my story is that, in many ways, it is every believer’s story: that God, in His great mercy, digs up the lies that bind us and replaces them with His truth. I will never get over His faithfulness!
There have been times in my life when I thought I was broken beyond repair and it seemed as though shame had won. Sometimes, however, that pain we feel is God growing us. Sometimes the pain is actually God digging up the roots of lies we’ve believed so He can replace them with something true. The greatest truth is that Jesus died for every one of us. As I consider my salvation, I am left with a sense of awe and wonder saying, ‘Jesus, look what You’ve done!’ My prayer is that when others feel the finger of shame pointed at them—or even their own—that this song would be a reminder of God’s redemption.
The heartfelt piano ballad and short but punchy 3 minute tune “Into The Sea (It’s Gonna Be Ok)”, a track whereby Tasha encourages us to hold onto Jesus and to trust him with all of our heart, relaying that ‘…though the mountains may be moved into the sea, though the ground beneath might crumble and give way, I can hear my Father singing over me, “It’s gonna be ok, it’s gonna be ok”…’. The perfect melody that encouraged us immensely during the height of COVID-19 where everything was uncertain, Tasha brings to us a song of hope, comfort and encouragement, as we can lean on God always and rest in His promise of security and surety. While God has said to us time and time again that everything is indeed going to be ok, it is during this time of chaos and social distancing, when we need this track the most. And while we can read the more in depth quotes below from what Tasha has said about the song; let us marvel at the exquisite song writing ability of Tasha!
I have a 2-year-old son and when he falls and scrapes his knee, or when he is scared, or when he is sad, I take his little face in my hands and I look at him and say, ‘You know what buddy, it’s gonna be ok.“ I wrote this song during a time when I was facing a lot of heartache, worry and stress. I was crying out to God, just like my little son cries out to me. When we question if God is still in control and still good, Psalm 46 says that even if the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea, that He is our refuge and our strength, a present help in trouble. When your world feels like it is completely upside down, remember, it is going to be ok.
I’ve received many comments like, “We really needed this right now,” or “This is so timely in our world!” One woman wrote to me and said she is normally a very happy and positive person but because of the pandemic, she and her husband have found themselves quite the opposite… scared. They are now unemployed with four children. She told me she heard the song on the radio and froze as she was listening. She’s had the song on repeat and has been in tears as she has allowed God to take away the fear she is feeling right now. She says it was like she wrote the words herself. Stories like this are certainly motivating for me to continue down the path I’m on, as I see God using the songs to draw people to Him.
When we wrote the song, I think all of us writers were accessing what I call “dark nights of the soul” in our lives. Personally, I was drawing from some experiences I had when I was searching in my faith and felt desperate for a change—especially in the verse that says, “I’ve blamed myself and if I’m honest maybe have blamed you too.” For a long time, I thought the outcomes in my life were solely determined by how good of a person I was or because God “had it out to get me” if I messed up. I’ve since recognized the error in my theology and realized how far from the truth that is.
I hope when people hear this song, they are able to access the most honest thoughts and emotions they’re feeling right now and truly hand them over to God. I hope they sense God assuring them that no matter what they are facing, it’s going to be OK.
Even though we are still presented with 4 songs we’ve heard before, they’re no less poignant and impacting and inspiring. “Good Things” is a straight up radio friendly pop song through and through, as Tasha emphatically relays to us that Jesus Christ has good plans for us in store, and that at all times, we can ‘…praise You through it all, even before the miracle, believing when I cannot see, I know that You have good things planned for me…’; while the mid-tempo vibrant acoustic guitar led “Thank You For The No” is essentially that- a prayer thanking Jesus for the ‘no’, for not allowing certain things into our lives at certain times in favour for something a whole lot more fulfilling, satisfying and in Him plans. Confrontational and perhaps controversial, Tasha’s song is bound to garner discussion around the topic of God taking control over suffering and the pain in our lives… and why should Tasha be thankful for something bad? Yet while there is discussion about difficult topics like these through this song, I reckon “Thank You For the No” has served its purpose. “Brave Heart (Dear Daughter)” is a stirring piano ballad and an encouraging melody sung to Tasha’s daughter; while the track can also serve as a song God sings to His daughters (and sons). With Tasha fervently relaying to us all ‘…don’t you give up now, when it all falls apart, let me be the one you lean on, when you’re not strong enough, dear daughter, don’t let go…’, we are sure to be comforted that Jesus is right here beside us no matter what is happening in our lives; while the poppy 3 minute melody “I Got You” is a toe-tapper and an uplifter, with Tasha ardently and effortlessly relaying to us all that even when everything goes wrong and falls apart, things will be ok because we’ve got Jesus, that ‘…when it feels like work, when my heart aches, I go easy on myself, when I hear You say, I got you, I got you, You’ve been so good, You’ve been so kind, if it all goes wrong, I got one thing right, I got You, I got You…’.
The rest of the 4 brand-new tracks from How Far remind us that Tasha is a brilliant songwriter, as she points people to Jesus as the source of our strength and the source of our hope and joy. “Help Me Let Go”, a 2-minute pop song, has Tasha singing about surrendering to God and letting Him have control of our lives- powerfully and exquisitely asking God to ‘…help me let go, help me let go, it always works out better, when I give up and give you control, the pieces fall together…’. While the vibrant and eclectic title track comforts and provides reassurance, that Jesus’ love stretches as far as we’ve run away from Him, that ‘…a million miles of my mistakes, still couldn’t keep Your love away, however far away I am from home, that’s how far Your love will go…’– similar in theme to the parable of the father and his two sons. “Catch My Breath”, a moving, honest and inspiring ballad, speaks to our very soul, as Tasha asks God to help us to recharge and relax, to help us see the bigger picture of life, and to help us catch our breath and surrender our daily thoughts and our problems to Him. While How Far then ends with the uplifting and encouraging melody “Joy Comes”. With Tasha seamlessly relaying to us that she will praise God at all times, especially during the hard times, we are encouraged to believe the fact that …weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning…’– a song that is similar in theme of Baylor Wilson’s “Joy Comes In The Morning”.
The whole album is summed up in the message of the title track, ‘How Far’. It’s about how God continues to reach out and pursue us even when we run from Him. It was God’s love for us that propelled Him to give His life on the cross. Arms stretched open wide—that’s how far He will go.
I didn’t shy away from any hard emotions with these songs, and I really tried to lean in and hear what God had to say about each of them. My hope is that listeners feel a sense of freedom in this album, understanding that God meets us even in the darkest of hours. The album speaks to God’s intimate involvement in our lives, from the mundane to the biggest moments, throughout each and every season. God is in all of those things with us. He cares; He’s kind; and He’s working all things out for our good.
In a year where we’ve seen standout albums from Miranda Lambert, Ben Rector, Hayley Whitters, Thomas Rhett, For KING & COUNTRY, Mark Vincent, Casting Crowns, Anne Wilson, Ella Henderson and Sofia Carson to name a few; Tasha Layton’s debut full length album stands tall amongst the rest of these projects, as she continues on in her mission to make Jesus’ name famous, and to point people to Him. Though this album contains more songs we know than songs we don’t as of yet; we can still jam out to these melodies just the same, as we are presented with food for our soul and songs that enrich our spirit. And let me tell you, I will keep on listening to Tasha’s melodies, and tell people of Tasha’s thoroughly engaging and inspiring tracks. Well done, Tasha, can’t wait for you to hear what is next from you, as you continue to bless us all with more songs! Fans of Hannah Kerr, Natalie Grant, Kari Jobe, Sarah Reeves and Mia Fieldes will love Tasha Layton!
3 songs to listen to: Look What You’ve Done, Into The Sea (It’s Gonna Be Ok), Brave Heart (Dear Daughter)
RIYL: Caitie Hurst, Natalie Grant, Hannah Kerr, Sarah Reeves, Mia Fieldes, Britt Nicole, Ellie Holcomb