To read the story of how Rachel Platten gave me the chance of a lifetime, please go here
I don’t know about you but I’m…look what you made me do.
I’m not ashamed to admit it but I’m one of those chicks who likes to ride with my top down listening to Jesus music. It’s partly because of the way I was raised. I actually wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of secular music growing up until I rebelled against Christian music for a few short years when I was trying my hand at being the female version of Slim Shady. I was obsessed with Eminem at 13 and still have yet to get over his Curtain Call album. Turns out, rapping isn’t my calling but at least I had fun figuring that out.
Someone who is a natural lyricist is Lecrae. He was the first Christian hip hop artist to have a #1 album on the Billboard Hot 100 but he didn’t just walk out of the gate and into overnight success. His first album Real Talk was released via the independent label he co-founded in 2004 and it started the 116 clique movement. He refers to his music as “hip-hop that he uses to share his Christian faith,” and it is this outsider attitude that has taken him from rapper to anomaly with a Grammy win, a BET win, and now a signed contract with Columbia Records. Lecrae Moore has quite the life story, and is definitely real life proof that all things do work together.
Song by Song Review
Always Knew: The perfect track to break the glass ceiling as a major label artist. The musicality of the entire album is a definite head nod to all of Lecrae’s “day ones and the crew” with elements from Real Talk and his Church Clothes mixtapes. Lyrically, this track discusses his Reach Records days to transitioning to a major label artist with his album displayed in Times Square.
Understanding me ain’t for the simple& elementary
Facts: Emulating Church Clothes style and musicality discussing current themes about racial divisions and stereotypes
Just know if you rock the boat you better have a life raft
Broke: A song about how the struggle makes you stronger, it boasts how God takes all the broken pieces & makes you the righteousness of God through Christ. Also is about wealth in character being far more valuable than any and all material wealth
Hard times made for a good life
Blessings: A song of thanksgiving and praise, gospel gone ghetto, about being grateful & counting all God’s blessings.
Whatchu Mean: With a catchy backbeat, it discusses someone who’s words and actions don’t balance out. On this track featuring new Reach Records artist, Aha Gazelle we find them blocking out haters and pursuing dreams.
Hammertime: Lecrae tells the listener to work hard at what they want to achieve in life. Musically, it samples the 90’s hit “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.
If we living what we talk about, you don’t talk a lot
Come and Get Me: Favorite track on the record because it’s the perfect mix of righteous and ratchet, and it is unapologetic rebel music, with sleigh bells carrying the back beat.
Lucked Up: Another reason I respect Lecrae as an artist is because unlike other hip-hop artists that get on hit song charts by bragging about how many women they get with, he always has a song that boasts his life for his wife and showcases his softer side, and that’s what this track is for this album.
Wish You The Best: A song about the power of forgiveness despite how the relationship came to an end.
Can’t Stop Me Now: As I am a white female who was born in the 90’s, the first thing that came to mind when I heard this track was that it reminded me of Sailing by ‘NSYNC in musicality and style but a Caribbean element creates a song about letting go of depression and doubt.
I’ll Find You: Featuring Tori Kelly, this dream collaboration talks about God finding you in the midst of the pain or trial
8_28: Based on Romans 8:28, the title track is a lyrical tale about how all things work together for those who love God & are called according to his purpose.
Cry For You: It was originally written as a journal entry and not going to be used for the album, and Lecrae recorded it in one take with authentic emotions and tears in the corners of his eyes, it discusses having weaknesses, flaws, and a thorn in the flesh. Almost a letter to God about the fight of faith.
Worth It: Gospel Baptist Church musicality sets the scene for this track about how God looks at us with unconditional love even in the midst of our sin and mistakes because “the price paid determines the value.”
Click the graphic below for the Musical Notes video that corresponds with the review.
One year ago today, Christina Grimmie was taken from this Earth far too soon. Yet, her beautiful family and team have been keeping Christina’s beautiful legacy alive by continuing to release new music that she had worked on prior to her passing. And none of it disappoints.
Her newest album was released a major record label, which was one of Grimmie’s life-long dreams, as well as to win a Grammy.
With this review, I am only trying to honor Christina and in no way trying to critique her or her absolutely powerful gift with music and inspiring people. As mentioned in previous posts, I only spoke to her briefly when I worked the Wildfire Tour for Rachel Platten but she definitely had a big heart, a beautiful smile, and a light that would help you through the darkest times in your life. I also urge everyone to read this to get a copy of All is Vanity as a tribute to the singer.
Her new album is titled All is Vanity and is based off her favorite Bible verse that she ended up getting tattooed on her arm:
“All Is Vanity” is a bible verse, from Ecclesiastes 12:8, which reads: “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”
Before her untimely passing, Christina would say that this verse was there to remind her that her success and fame where nothing without Christ, and only in Him does life have meaning.
Song By Song Review
This song opens the album and it is said this was Christina’s favorite of all her new songs, and you can hear it in her voice throughout the track. There is an enthusiasm that gives her voice that extra dose of perfection.
The breakdown is my favorite part of the entire track:
I absolutely love the musicality of this track. It reminds me of an anime love story, as it has a little bit of a Japanese sound to it.
The third track was one of the first new songs released by Team Grimmie, and 100% of proceeds from the sale of it went to starting the Christina Grimmie Foundation. A posthumous release from Christina Grimmie, who rips our hearts in two with her incredible talent, bright presence, and musical ear. The song is a little eery as Grimmie talks about no longer being invisible, singing:
My favorite track on the album that caused me to tear up at the first listen because it showcases Grimmie’s R&B vocal stylings and it shows a deeper side to her songwriting by discussing someone who chooses a crowded room to hide from themselves, possibly hinting at what Grimmie felt was an epidemic in Hollywood.
Crowded Room perfectly blends Alessia Cara’s “Here” and Sia’s “Chandelier” in song content, vocal stylings, and musicality.
Producer and Christina’s boyfriend, Stephen Rezza, perfectly placed a clip from this Youtube video at the end of this song and it made me ball my eyes out. This song is a perfect placard for Christina’s motivating and inspirational legacy.
Pressure I woke up with this stuck in my head and cannot stop listening to it because this song is a serious bop, jam, hit, and it has these feel good dancy vibes that remind me of the power and caliber of a Michael Jackson song. It is similar to “Scream” but has the musicality of “Bad.”
Christina, I’m with you.
Maybe I With this track, Christina’s vocal powerhouse shines here.
Echo A badass “I deserve better” anthem about someone who continues to lie to you and you realize you need to get up and move on.
This song makes me miss this young beautiful talent. A beautiful arrangement similar to her single Invisible, EDM meets Grimmie’s R&B vocal stylings and incomparable vocal range. It’s my favorite off her Side B EP.
This song reminds me “For You” by Demi Lovato in vocals and musicality. It’s the perfect way to end the album.
We miss you, Christina! I know you are absolutely beaming in heaven.
They did happen to cut out my intro paragraph but do I really need to reiterate how much the Jonas Brothers mean to me, and how happy I am for each of them despite how much I was saddened when they parted ways as a musical act?
For all the fangirl features, check out my review above.
From the first note, I was into this new album from my introduction to Christian music growing up in the nineties, Mercy Me. It’s relevant, dancy, jazzy, classy, and full of Jesus. There isn’t a song on the ten track album that will have you eager to skip to the next track. It’s perfect for long car rides, daily worship, or sporadic dance parties in your living room.
On the heels of their RIAA Certified Gold and GRAMMY® acclaimed Welcome To The New (2014), at the core of their newest is the question of what it looks like to live as followers of Christ.
“This new record is the logical next chapter after our last album, and it carries a new perspective,” MercyMe’s Bart Millard remarked. “Welcome To The New was all about grace and identity in Christ; a welcoming to the life of being a new creation by grace. And it’s such an exciting truth to grasp, but then life continues to go on and eventually the newness of that wears off and we need encouragement and support to sustain us. For me personally, I sing about being new every night on tour and I don’t always feel so new. So the album title LIFER and the theme of the record is all about reminding ourselves and others about the victory we have in the end through Christ. We are all in this for life – even on the days when we don’t feel like doing any of it. We want these songs to be a morale boost to remind people of who they are and what Christ has done.”
Filled with positive, uplifting lyrics, along with energetic beats and soaring melodies, this latest offering delivers the massive hits that MercyMe is known for. The debut single “Even If” will serve as a follow-up to the band’s four hit singles found on their previous album. Lifer debuts March 31 wherever music is sold.
Song by Song Review
Lifer: An announcer greets the listener with, “And now, ladies and gentlemen,” before big band musicality opens the track discussing faith in Christ becoming as simple as vital as breathing to live. My favorite line:
“Because it ain’t what happens to me, yeah that don’t define me. It’s what I got inside me. Before I was created, you already knew yeah. Ain’t nothing gonna separate us, hallelujah.”
You Found Me: Has musicality that reminds me of an eighties movie, or the outro to The Breakfast Club. Lyrically, it tells the upbeat story of Christ finding those who believe in Him in our dark corners of guilt, shame, and condemnation, and claims us as His own.
Grace Got You: With a modern take on mo-town musicality, this song will get you on your feet in danceful worship of God’s grace. My favorite line:
Smile like you just got away with something. Why?
‘Cause you just got away with something ever since grace got you
Best News Ever: An encouraging song that quiets the noise of all the ideals people quote about life, and reminds us of our victory in Christ. You just got the best news ever!
Even If: A ballad that is for those struggling with doubts and questions in the midst of the darkest circumstances.
Hello Beautiful: My favorite off the album because of the usage of real life sounds that bring the track to life.
We Win: With a song that could be used for the Body of Christ’s pep rally, this is an encouraging pop rock anthem with the main message being, “We won.”
Happy Dance: You will not be able to stop the joy or the groove that hits you during this song. Totally a shake-it-for-Jesus anthem in lyrical content and pop rock musicality. A great follow-up to the previous track.
Heavens Here: The opening reminds me of “Circle of Life” from The Lion King but it reminds us of the line from the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Ghost: A haunting musical element creates an old hymn musicality calling out for the Holy Spirit to lead us to hope and peace instead of being like the images painted in campfire stories, horror movies, or Halloween ideals.
It’s okay if you like myself felt this incredible urge to grab a hairbrush and start singing along after that title. Hot Chelle Rae is one of the greatest rock/ pop rock bands that ever came onto the music scene. Yet, today, the spotlight gets a little brighter for the lead singer as he steps out as a solo artist with a brand new EP.
There’s no denying a smile like that comes from finally finding the thing that clicks, the right groove, the right chord, the niche that floats your boat. Ryan Follese, oldest son of famed country songwriters Adrienne and Keith Follese, (“The Way You Love Me” by Faith Hill; “Something Like That” by Tim McGraw), Ryan recently figured out why he kept writing country songs despite being one-third of an American pop band). Being that he was born into it and raised in Nashville, he hit all the right notes right out the gate when he sat down to write this EP. Yet, that doesn’t mean it was any less work than any other music project. He spent two years working on it with his family and various music geniuses at Big Machine Label Group. He was officially signed June 15, 2016. And I couldn’t be happier that not only is Ryan making music but his heart is overjoyed and it definitely shows with this six-song EP baring his name.
Song by Song Review
“Put A Label On It”: A song that discusses that moment when you want everyone to know that you not only found someone but you can’t wait to tell the world. Favorite lyric: “I can read you like a book girl. And we’re on the same page.”
“Wilder”: One of my favorites off the EP because it showcases Ryan’s heart but still has an up-tempo melody and rhythm. And love the banjo on the backtrack. Favorite lyric: “Like a couple of kids in the dark playing with fire just to see how hot we burn.”
“One Thing Right”: The perfect song to come home to play on repeat after a long rough day at work. For me it’s a song I dedicate to my dogs (cheesy I know) because it touches on that one person or people who make you want to become better, and also help you shrug off the mistakes you made yesterday. Definitely a Southern wedding song.
“Lose A Little Sleep”: For Hot Chelle Rae super fans like myself, this song has a pop anthem feel but with plenty of country transitions so you get a little taste of both genres. Definitely a hit for sure plus it really exhibits Follese’s handsome vocal range. Favorite lyric: “24/7 365 you’re in my head. Only one number on my speed dial. Like I’d forget.” Oh my swoon! 😍 😍 😍
“Growing Up”: My favorite off the EP for sure because it’s way relatable for me right now in my life (graduate college only to struggle to find a job in my field, forced to work a part-time job in order so that I don’t become the typical starving artist). Favorite lyric: “They say I gotta grow up but right now I’m feeling too young.”
“Float Your Boat”: I spent most of middle school to people asking me for life advice: “Whatever floats your banana boat” so this song speaks to me on a spiritual level. For my feature piece/ full review on this track, #ICYMI.
Overall, I see big things for the lead singer of my favorite band. I see someone who has the talent musically to go far as a solo artist and really come into who he was born to be all along. Whatever floats your boat, Ryan. I’m totally in support of.