Release Date: March 31st 2020
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Surrounding Me (feat. Elissa Tipps)
The Sonflowerz, for me, would have to be one of the most underrated independent worship bands over the past decade or so. Forming out of Colorado Springs in 1999, Becca Leander Nicholson and Elissa Leander Tipps (plus a few other girls to begin with- now they are performing as a duo) started this group that wrote songs from their life experiences and wrote it for the Lord as well- all done with an acoustic/folksy/CCM atmosphere. Now here we are in 2020, and with 4 albums, 2 EPs and a book underneath their belt, both Becca and Elissa have given to us great albums with fervently honest worship over the years, with heartfelt songs and emotive anthems like ‘Legacy’, ‘All Over the World’, ‘Edge of My Seat’, ‘Cover Us (Like a Flood)’, ‘My Heart is Alive’, ‘By Faith’ and ‘Made to Shine’, to name a few. And while I myself haven’t reviewed any albums of The Sonflowerz here on this website, I have reviewed some albums- 2011’s By Faith and 2013’s Kickstarter-funded EP Love Walked In were both reviewed on IndieVisionMusic.com here and here respectively; a review site that I wrote for as a CCM reviewer, prior to myself and my brother launching this website in 2014. And now in 2020, I’m about to review another musical release from this duo band- this time, it’s a single in ‘Surrounding Me’, with this song primarily featuring Elisa Leander Tipps, the lead singer of the band. It’s unclear whether her sister Becca is indeed involved in this track or not, but regardless, its even a miracle that this duo have unveiled to us new music- since their most recent album, prior to this new recording, was in fact in 2013 with Love Walked In. Now 7 years later (and a book as well), this British-American band whose knack for creating lightly acoustic, powerfully worshipful songs with a radio-slant, are at it again, with this near-6 minute melody, and a worship song that’s been in my Spotify playlists for the last couple of weeks. A song that’s a must for anyone who have loved and appreciated The Sonflowerz’s music prior, or enjoy music on a similar vein, like Meredith Andrews or Rend Collective; this British-American group, that may or may not be known, are quite frankly, such a band that gives us music with some of the most worshipful and heartfelt lyrics I’ve heard from a group, ever since Rend Collective.
‘Surrounding Me’ was unveiled to us during the coronavirus lockdown period, at the end of March to bew more exact. The song itself (though it can suffer repetition, because there’s only one verse- repeated twice) is a timely reminder of being able to rest in His presence and promises, in His ability to protect us and shield us from the very things that the enemy would like to throw our way to thwart us off our path we’re on. Standing at a tad below 6 minutes, ‘Surrounding Me’ has quickly become one my favourite worship songs of 2020 thus far, as Elisa (and maybe Becca) give to us a song of hope and comfort, knowing full well that in light of who we know Jesus is and to be, we can declare boldly that He’s surrounding us, even in the moments where we feel like He isn’t. As Elisa herself reminds us all in a behind-the-song blog on her website: ‘…there are times in my own life that I have felt pressed at every side. Pressure from struggles that have grown my faith, my dependence on my Great God. Worship lifts my perspective up so I can see Who is my Deliverer, Who is directing the wind and waves, Who is surrounding me…and I keep coming back to the words of Psalm 91. It’s not enough to know that God is my Deliverer or even to see the words in the Bible that speak about how He delivers me from all of my troubles. I need to believe it. And to follow that belief with one more vital truth – that this Deliverer, this Great God, loves me! The greatest trouble we face is not the opposition of the enemy or the size of our battle, it’s believing the truth that we are truly loved by God and there is nothing to fear…it’s the faith of Christ that lives in us and the passionate, unwavering love of God that surrounds us. Before God created us, He knew he would have to send His Son to a painful death to save us. And yet, He still created us because it was His good pleasure! (Ephesians 1:4-6) This love is so much more than we can grasp, except through the revelation from God’s Spirit…choose His love. Chose to dwell in His shelter, under His mighty covering. Like a powerful Father defends His children, He is Almighty standing over you. Sing with confidence knowing His love for you…’
And so there it is: ‘Surrounding Me’. Does that mean they’ll be a new album from this underrated duo sometime in the future? Probably. And if the new album/EP release is anything like ‘Surrounding Me’, then this upcoming album, whenever it does occur, is going to be one of their best ones yet. For me my favourite would always be By Faith in 2011, when I first discovered the band; and their 2008 album All Over the World would have to be a close second. For now, until such a time where albums can be created without the need to social distance, let us enjoy the music we’ve been given now, and be reminded that God always keeps us surrounded and in the shadow of His wings. Well done Elisa for this powerful song, can’t wait for more new songs to come in the future!
RIYL: Matt Redman, Delirious?, Meredith Andrews, Kari Jobe