Provident Label Group
Release Date: March 25th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Various Artists– Heaven Is For Real (Songs Inspired By The Movie and Best-Selling Book) (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- Lifesong – Casting Crowns
- Where I Belong – Building 429
- Born Again – Third Day
- Healing Begins – Tenth Avenue North
- Heaven In Me – Darlene Zschech
- Lord, I Need You – Matt Maher
- SEE You in a Little While – Steven Curtis Chapman
- It Is Well (Oh My Soul) – Brandon Heath
- Never Once – One Sonic Society
- Heaven – Read You and Me feat. Colton Burpo
Just yesterday, my family and I saw the film Heaven Is For Real, starring Greg Kinnear, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Haden Church, Margo Martindale and Connor Corum, a film based on the inspiring true story of the Burpos. The incredibly true story was also turned into a book of the same name written in 2010 by Todd Burpo, about his son’s encounter with heaven in 2003 (and that book is what the film was based on). One of the films I had wanted to see in 2014, because of the strong Christian themes, as well as me being excited at how Hollywood would portray this sensitive issue, in my opinion, I thought that the film could have been improved upon. Yet the story is encouraging, inspiring and life affirming. Todd and his wife Sonia have two children Colton and Cassie, all live in Nebraska. Todd pastors a small church there, and in the film Todd is also portrayed as a firefighter, a coach of a high school wrestling team, and a carpet salesman as well.
One day, Colton suffers a life-threatening illness, and after an operation, where he never lost consciousness, Colton claims that he saw heaven. The rest of the movie shows the family grappling with and understanding what Colton has gone through, as he shares with them everything he has seen, as well as the people he met (including Jesus, and his dead relatives that he hadn’t met yet). As Jon is reviewing the movie for this site soon, I thought I would talk about the CD that accompanied with the release, featuring 10 songs that link to themes in the movie. With 8 of the songs already being released before, it may seem like this album wasn’t even necessary. However listening to these fan favourites again in light of seeing the movie have placed them in a new light, as I can now see them from a different point of view, and I myself can hopefully gain something new from these melodies.
The album opens up with the Casting Crowns led “Lifesong”, driven by big booming, epic like guitars and a strong anthemic worship atmosphere, as Mark Hall and co. kick into gear, and sing a vertical worship song to Jesus, that highlights our devotion to Him as we ‘…let my lifesong sing to You, I want to sign Your name to the end of this day, knowing that my heart was true…’. In relation to the film, as Colton’s faith in Jesus never wavered after his ordeal, it showed a life of a passionate, devoted, young boy, willing to let his life and testimony point to Jesus, even when everyone around him was doubting and ridiculing him. That takes guts, and this song is a great reminder to stand up in our beliefs no matter the consequences. Building 429’s “Where I Belong”, which topped the number 1 on the Christian charts for 15 consecutive weeks in 2012, and was co-written with Jason Ingram; speaks about how Earth is not out temporary home and reminds us not to be discouraged by our circumstances as heaven isn’t too far away. Driven by keys and guitar, this pop/CCM tune should make us long for heaven and eagerly anticipate the day that we see Jesus, and delves into the notion of hope and faith, something that everyone should have felt but didn’t, when Colton was describing his experiences. “Born Again”, by Third Day, featuring Lacey Sturm on guest vocals, was a song Mac Powell wrote almost in its entirety just after he was folding the washing, and this testimony like guitar based slow tempo ballad reminds us that a life lived with Jesus is like we are living for the first time. While Tenth Avenue North’s guitar led mid tempo inspirational melody “Healing Begins”, speaking about the process of healing and how it can take time, vividly describes motions and feelings that were most likely raging through Todd as he tried to understand and make sense of what his son was telling him.
“Lord I Need You”, one of Matt Maher’s most popular and respected songs, opens up with acoustic guitar, and has soft piano at the forefront, and guest vocals by Audrey Assad. The heartfelt and honest tune reminds us that we need God more than life itself, and Matt suggests that even when times are good, to call upon the Lord. In any circumstance we need God, and He is our Everything- this song is a gentle reminder of our frailties as humans and God’s almighty supremacy, a topic touched upon in the film as well. Another inspiring and moving tack featured on this compilation is the heartfelt and emotional piano led ballad “See You In A Little While” by Steven Curtis Chapman, inspired by Steven’s grandmother’s recent death. As Steven emotionally outlines that our loved ones who believe in Jesus are waiting for us in heaven, we should really think of their passing as ‘goodbye’ but rather ‘see you soon’. Together along with the beautiful yet still inadequate description in the film by Colton of heaven, and the realisation that our loved ones who are believers in Christ are there waiting for us, should bring healing and hope to many who may still be hurting. With Brandon Heath’s “It Is Well”, a quiet reflective piano driven version of the timeless hymn, with his Blue Mountain-esque vocals and added chorus of ‘…it is well, with my soul, here’s my heart, make it whole, for You I live, in You I dwell, oh my Soul…’ giving me goosebumps; and One Sonic Society’s “Never Once”, originally written by Matt Redman- a mid tempo electric guitar based ballad reminding us that God is with us always, and ‘…never once did we ever walk alone, never once did we leave You on Your throne, You are faithful, God You are faithful…’ rounding off the familiar tracks; it is however the 2 new songs that speak to me the most.
Darlene Zschech’s song “Heaven In Me”, probably one of her most emotional and poignant piano led ballads, features brilliant and moving vocals, as well as honest and earnest lyrics depicting how God is most important in her life, as he is described to be Heaven to her. Standing tall at 5 minutes in duration, we are met with a personal admission of devotion and surrender as we stand and worship God, to a song that will most likely be sung on the Sunday set list probably sometime soon. The final song, “Heaven”, a mid-tempo ballad driven by keys, and sung by Read You And Me (I haven’t heard of this band at all!), is the album clover, and strikes me as creative and different as Colton Burpo sings on this track too. Though lyrically simplistic, as the song highlights how Jesus loves us and wants us to know that Heaven is real and that there’s a place for us there if we believe in Him; the sheer emotion and passion of Colton, as he sings about Jesus whom He saw in heaven, gives the album authenticity on the whole. Well done Colton for this honest and eloquently sung song, which wraps up a batch of songs about the theme of heaven and the stirring and motivational movie. Both are worth a look (the album and the movie!)
What can I say about this album without giving away the plot points of Heaven is For Real? Well, nothing more really, except that you should watch the movie before listening to Heaven Is For Real (Songs Inspired By The Movie and Best-Selling Book), just to gain that extra perspective and a different understanding of the messages of these tracks. Though not the greatest film this year, it is however a good tool for Christians to use to witness to non-Christians, and hopefully some healthy discussion and answered questions can eventuate. A must for any fan of uplifting tunes, as well as Provident Label Group and these artists, you’ll enjoy this album also if you’re eagerly anticipating watching the movie out now! And even if you just want to listen to a good compilation that brings glory to Jesus, then that’s good as well! So, I would say listen to the album. It’s full of melodies that will build us up! You’ll definitely be blessed.
3 songs to listen to: Heaven in Me, Healing Begins, Where I Belong
RIYL: Tenth Avenue North, Darlene Zschech, Third Day, Matt Maher