I've been listening to Jason Gray's new album for so long that the folks at Centricity Music probably think that I've forgotten I promised I'd write a review if only they'd let me have a copy. There's a lot to this project, and it has taken me a while to absorb it enough to write a review. I'm not a professional reviewer, for that matter, which I'm sure makes it more difficult. :-)
The short version:
Jason Gray's "Everthing Sad is Coming Untrue" (ESICU) is a purposely "pop" album that loses no depth to its playability. I find myself singing the songs repeatedly; the music is catchy and singable. And the lyrics are worth many a listen; the depth reflected there is rare in a pop Christian album. Like a thread running through the album, the work of God to make all things new shines as a hopeful theme. In short, ESICU is a musical investment that will challenge and encourage you - and leave you with some great tunes running through your head.
The extended play version:
From the first song, More Like Falling in Love, Jason challenged my thinking. Lyrics like, "It's gotta be more like falling in love than something to believe in, more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance" caught me off guard and made me uncomfortable. I mean, aren't we supposed to be belieiving and surrendered? I'm someone who doesn't like the whole "falling in love" idea to begin with, because I think it's reflection of a culture that takes too lightly the commitment that is love. It took me a while to get past my prejudice to hear the heart of Jason's song, at which these additional lyrics give a peek: "I need a truth that lives, moves and breathes to sweep me off my feet. ... It was love that made me a believer. More than a name, a faith, a creed, falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me." The love of the Lord Jesus has swept me off my feet more times than I can count, and for that I am deeply thankful.
Jason's music also challenged my actions. Fade with our Voices asks if our worship has hands and feet. "Does it stand up in the face of injustice? ... Is it more than a song that fades with our voices?" As you can see in the video I've embedded at the bottom of this post, the idea of our actions being part of our worship has become an important part of Jason's life and ministry. In Holding the Key, he addresses one of my hot buttons - the need for us to be both real and approachable with each other: "We were made with these hearts, meant to be open, and we lock them away, afraid of being broken. But we're given each other to set it free - and you're the one holding the key. ... your listening ear is the grace of God." Another challenging song, Better Way to Live, talks about "when we step aside from the center of our lives, and learn to love mercy more than being right." Some of Jason's lyrics hug (perhaps even cross!) the "meddlin'" line ... and I've been blessed by his boldness.
Then there are songs whose lyrics reflect the cry of my heart. Lyrics like "Jesus I come, come to You again, like it was the first time I came to you for new life... believing, help my unbelief... I need You now as much as I did then, I need a new beginning... take me back so I can move ahead" from For the First Time Again. For someone who is a "runner," and who longs to learn to run in the right direction, Hold Me Back resonates strongly: "Father please hold me back, be the strength I lack, 'cause it's just like me to run from the One that I need. You hold me back... it's just like You to run to the one who needs You... with the love that won't let me go before it makes me new."
Some of my favorite pick-me-up songs from "Everthing Sad is Coming Untrue" are Help Me, Thank You ("the two best prayers I know"); Jesus Use Me, I'm Yours ("my dreams, my plans, my heart, my hands"); and I Am New ("I'm chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved, I am new... the One who is making everything new doesn't see me the way that I do"). Everything Sad is Coming Untrue (Part 1) holds the promising lyrics, "life is coming alive, death is destined to die... when we learn to live again and let forgiveness win, there's no wound that Love won't mend and finally redeem."
The last song on ESICU, like the first, challenges my thinking. Everything Sad is Coming Untrue (Part 2) takes a deeper look at some of the heartbreaking realities of our world and dares to ask "how could it be that everything sad is coming untrue?" Yet deeper still, we have the assurance the He will make all things new. "Broken hearts are being unbroken, bitter words are being unspoken, the curse undone, the veil is parted, the garden gate will be left unguarded. ... Oh I believe that everything sad is coming untrue in the hands of the One who makes all things new." Though we may not see everything sad coming untrue at present, we do have an eternal hope, based on the victory of our Lord Jesus, the One who makes all things new!