- Know Us By Our Love
- Well Done
- Sing in the Rain
- I Choose Jesus
- We Haven’t Even Kissed
- All the Ways He Loves Us
- Miracle of Love
- No Shame
Reunion Records have added another artist to their roster this year since releasing Lindsay McCaul’s album in January. 19 year old Moriah Peters was originally planning to be an entertainment lawyer, but it was her parents who saw her gift in music as potential and encouraged her to audition on American Idol. Even though she made it through the cut-off rounds of the 2010 season, she decided to pull out of the competition when she was confronted with making a choice that would compromise her Christian faith. What soon happened afterwards is nothing short of miraculous as Moriah was approached afterwards and was given encouraging comments about her trust in God, as well as musical talent. As she was connected to someone else in Nashville, she began to work on her debut album, signing a record deal with Reunion Records. What resulted from this experience are 10 tracks to an album ironically titled I Choose Jesus, a choice that every Christian is faced with everyday, and the daily stand that we must all take to follow Christ. Vocally similar to Joy Williams of The Civil Wars and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer; I am amazed at the lyrical maturity of this album, knowing that Moriah is only 19. This is definitely one of my standouts for New Artist at the Dove Awards next year.
The first single from the album, also titled ‘I Choose Jesus’ is a statement that believers should make every day. As Moriah explains the meaning behind the song, ‘…“I Choose Jesus” is rooted in an experience my senior year of high school…one of very few Christians…[I was] interrogated by my classmates…I wasn’t prepared to answer a lot of those questions. I grew up with Christianity, but I had never had to defend it before…I’m grateful for those times. It gave me the opportunity to make my faith my own…’ Reading through this explanation, there is a sense of urgency, maturity and purposefulness in her writing ability and what she wants to convey to her listeners. We all need to understand why we believe what we believe, and when people ask us, we should give an answer. A radio-friendly atmosphere through vibrant guitars and soft piano with a crescendo in the bridge; this song speaks about how all I can do is devote my life to Him after ‘…He carried me out of my fear and doubt, how I want the world to know I choose Jesus…’
With standing up for Christ and witnessing to others a central theme throughout Moriah’s album; ‘All the Ways He Loves Us’ is a jazzy-pop radio song that speaks of God’s love for His children. With powerful and emotive vocals, coupled with a light acoustic feel; this song is another highlight of mine. As Moriah sings out, ‘…He’s the beginning and He is the end, He will be faithful again and again, we give Him praise for all the ways He loves us…’ we are reminded of God’s love, a love unending, undeserving, yet freely given. This is something we need to understand, in our heads and our hearts, as we tell others about Christ. ‘Well Done’ is a country finger-clicking song that is as groovy as it is lyrically rich in convictions. This is ‘I Choose Jesus’ part 2, as Moriah declares that ‘…I’m gonna run straight into Your open arms, I’m gonna follow You with all my heart…’ As I dance to this song that is destined to become a favourite in live concerts, I am reminded of Moriah’s heart to follow Jesus no matter the cost.
‘No Shame’ was the only song not written by Moriah. A piano and strings only track, the lyrical content and vocal ability are both accentuated. This is a song about having no shame about our lives because God knows everything, not condemning us but empathising with us. God came done to Earth to suffer on a cross, so the pain that we suffer; God went through it too! As Moriah proclaims, ‘…Once you know He’s forgiven you and you’ve forgiven yourself too, let His mercy flow til you’re white as snow…’ we immediately come to realise how much God is approachable, how much unconditional love He has for us. It is in view of what He has done where we can respond and live a life of worship and devotion.
Throughout the rest of the album, mini-themes are spread through each track as they each tie into the central theme of taking a stand for Christ. ‘Sing in the Rain’ is a happy and energetic song with a mesmerising repetitious piano hook that brings in the listener as we hear a song about the appreciation of life, and knowledge that ‘…I would be in Your arms when things get crazy…’ God is good, and though storms will definitely come in our lives; we must consciously make a decision to praise God, knowing that through these storms, we will grow in our relationship with God. Sounding most like Leigh Nash in ‘Glow’; this is a sign for us to shine our lights for Jesus. Moriah uses the acoustic guitar to her advantage as she creates another groove pop dance track that has massive heart and lyrical punch. This is another song, like Casting Crowns’ ‘City on a Hill’ and Kari Jobe’s ‘We Are’ that imparts the theme of evangelism, with Moriah indicating that ‘…If we loved with no hesitation, we would hold the purest light so spark a holy revolution…’ This is our reminder of our urgent need to share the love of Christ, that what we have to too precious to keep to ourselves.
‘We Haven’t Even Kissed’ is Moriah’s version of Rebecca St. James’ ‘Wait For Me’, a pledge for purity and abstinence until marriage. This is commitment as it should be, and with the acoustic setting, Moriah’s message of waiting for the right one is highlighted even more. Last on the album is my personal favourite, ‘Bloom’. Reminding me of Joy Williams and her song ‘Hide’, Moriah speaks to a friend, reassuring her that she is beautiful even if she doesn’t believe it. I am certain that everyone can feel like they are stuck, their feet on the ground and not being able to move forward. This is one of the most encouraging CCM songs this year, as Moriah’s vocals soar across the strings and percussion. We were born to bloom, to thrive; to live life for the God who gave His life. What an amazing thought that ‘…your wildest dreams can’t compare to what God’s got in store…’
Overall: Produced by Ed Cash, and with co-writes with Ed, the Write Brothers, Ian Eskelin, Cindy Morgan and Chris August; this is an album that will definitely fit into a playlist surrounded with Audrey Assad, Sara Groves and Jamie Grace. With the lyrical maturity beyond her years, Moriah incorporates smart songwriting with musical genius to create 10 tracks of easy-listening, yet at the same time, songs that will motivate and encourage the listener. This is a must album if you enjoy music from Audrey, Sara, Jamie, or even Dara MacLean and Rebecca St. James. This, along with Jamie Grace’s One Song at a Time and Lindsay McCaul’s If it Leads Me Back are my favourites from debut artists over the past 6 months.
RIYL: Dara MacLean, Audrey Assad, Joy Williams, Jamie Grace