Release Date: June 24th 2016
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
Tiffany Thurston– Out of the Blue (iTunes/Amazon mp3)
- Good, Good Father
- Holy Spirit
- Whispering Hope
- It is Well
‘…Tiffany is the perfect combination of passion, integrity and talent. The Lord has uniquely gifted her to break down the walls and lead people of any age in to the presence of God. I have had the privilege of working and touring with Tiffany for the past 3 years, and I can say without a doubt, that she is the real deal. On AND off the stage she is the same person, relentlessly pursuing her relationship with Christ and ways she can impact the Kingdom. Her beautiful voice and talent are quite obvious, but they are equally matched by her heart…’ Spoken by one of Tiffany’s greatest advocates and friend Natalie Grant herself; we are presented with a singer that has been one of the most underrated over the last few years. Tiffany Thurston, a native from Hawaii, has been a backup singer for Natalie Grant for a while until her debut self-titled EP in late 2011. Also a worship pastor in her home church in Honolulu, Hawaii as well; Tiffany’s previous work in Life (2007), Worship (2010) and her self-titled EP has all led her to this moment in 2016, and her new album full of both worship covers and her originally recorded songs makes Out of the Blue intriguing to say the least. With her infectious pop-rock sound similar to Francesca Battistelli and Natalie Grant herself, Tiffany has created 6 musical moments of hope and surrender (four of which are cover) as listeners are encouraged to take a stand for Christ in their everyday lives. With a range of musical styles from pop to worship and acoustic, this album that is predominately acoustic, is a must have for any CCM fan!
With 5 out of the 6 songs on the EP being covers, one can easily dismiss this EP as one that has been made just to keep up with the fashions and times. Yet as I listen to the renditions that Tiffany has poured her heart and soul into, we see and have a glimpse into renditions that are indeed unique, powerful and encouraging as the absence of electric guitars and powerful drums in just about every track makes the vocals shine all the more, as Tiffany uses her powerhouse voice to command each track with fervent enthusiasm and passion. Immediately standing out on the EP are songs like “Alive”, “Good, Good Father”, “Holy Spirit” and reimagined hymn “It Is Well”, songs that I reckon will be the impetus for many to check out Out of the Blue. With light piano riffs and an acoustic guitar undertone, “Alive” encourages us to become alive in Christ in whatever we undertake…and with vocals similar to Natalie herself and Mandisa, who can deny the fact that Tiffany brings an added charisma and passion to these songs that I’ve rarely seen in Christian music to date? “Alive” brings an upbeat energy to the EP and sets the scene with the powerful words of how ‘…You are alive in us, nothing can take Your place, You are all we need, Your love has set us free…’ Words like these ought not to be sung out lightly- we need to consider the gravity of the song before we declare it from the top of our lungs. In some ways, the absence of guitars and drums allows us to contemplate such things. Tiffany brings in a unique, albeit welcomed, rendition of “Alive” that sets up the EP as being one of my favourite worship collections of this side of 2016 (July onward…granted, there are 5 more months so maybe I’m being a bit presumptuous?).
“Good, Good Father” is by far one of today’s most popular worship songs- covered by artists like Chris Tomlin, Zealand Worship, Yancy, Anthem Lights, Big Daddy Weave, Casting Crowns…the list goes on and you get the picture. So when I saw the track “Good, Good Father” on this EP, I initially thought, ‘oh dear, not another cover recording’. Yet when I did hear the song, I was indeed challenged on my assumption that more and more covers of the same song would diminish its power; while I was amazed of how effortlessly Tiffany sang the melody, with various points during the song, singing high notes that I reckon no other artist has sung before. Kudos to Tiffany for such a flawless cover song, and a great reminder to all that God is indeed a good, good Father, that what He gives us is something more than we can even dream about or imagine. This song is a testament to the good times and the bad, an encouragement that God is indeed working in all circumstances for our good and His glory.
“Holy Spirit”, a Bryan and Katie Torwalt cover (made famous by pop singer/songwriter Francesca Battistelli on her album If We’re Honest), and the reinvented hymn “It Is Well” round out the worship covers (that we are familiar of) on the EP, and while I initially thought that “It is Well” was a cover of Bethel’s well-known track instead of the hymn itself, I’ve nevertheless grown to love Tiffany’s rendition of such a timeless hymn. While not as rock-y as Kutless’s 2009 recording, nor as subdued as Jars of Clay’s 2005 hymns project recording; we see a song that is similar vocally to Avalon’s 2006 version- in fact, Tiffany’s vocals indeed rival that of Jana’s. With just a piano and Tiffany’s voice, we are able to sit back and reflect upon the words sung in the song, that ‘…my sin, o the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul…’ Well done Tiffany for these cover renditions, some of my favourite covers of these songs ever, and some that’ll hopefully bring in listeners to hear her original tracks, “Goodness” and “Whispering Hope”, some of my favourite original songs written by any worship artist in 2016 thus far.
“Goodness”, co-written with Josh Silverberg and singer/songwriter Mia Fieldes, is the lone original track on the EP. “Goodness” brings back some electronic goodness as this potential radio single brings about the theme of how God always faces all our problems alongside us, that in all our circumstances, God chases us with His goodness, His promise and His presence, as we see an all-pursuing God longing for us to give Him everything- the hurt, pain, the triumphs and tribulations, all our good times and the pain, so that we can realise that irrespective of what we face, He is still good. It is who He is- good. This song is a declaration to that, and a reminder in the face of everything that has been happening globally, that ‘…I believe what my eyes can’t see, I believe at the core of me, one thing and nothing less, I can’t escape Your goodness…’ God gives us good things, and showers us with opportunities for us to experience more of the good God He is. “Whispering Hope”, though musically different, still continues along the theme that God is a good God, that hope comes into our lives in a myriad of different ways, and that often, God speaks in a whisper instead of a loud booming sound. “Whispering Hope”, a cover of an obscure hymn, originally recorded and made famous by singer Jim Reeves, is a song that challenges our own notion of how we believe God speaks to us in today’s society. With light acoustics, we realise that often noise can make God’s voice inaudible, rather we should just take time throughout our days to rest upon this whispering hope, for when we rest in His presence, His plan will come to light, without distraction and without the distractions that come with the technological age. Hymn-like and easy to sing, I suspect that “Whispering Hope” will become a reignited favourite in the months to come amongst those who hear it.
With her fourth musical offering showcasing more musical and lyrical diversity and deepness; Tiffany is sure to gain a few fans through these six songs. In spite of her EP being primarily covers, Tiffany is nevertheless still a new-ish artist, and hopefully this EP will bring about more originally recorded material in the future. With a genre similar to that of Francesca Battistelli and Natalie Grant, Tiffany’s vocals alone is certain to create opportunities of a label deal in the near future. Tiffany has sung some of the best worship cover renditions of songs that I’ve heard in recent memory, as she exposes her vulnerabilities to create a humble piece of musical art that is sure to speak to many listeners around the world. Well done Tiffany for such an emotive experience!
3 songs to listen to: Alive, Goodness, Good Good Father
RIYL: Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Natalie Grant, Hillsong Young and Free, Christafari