Album Review :
Audrey Assad - Heart

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Artist: Audrey Assad
Title: Heart
Label: Sparrow Records
Release Date: 2/14/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre

Tracklisting:

  1. Blessed Are the Ones
  2. Even in Winter
  3. The Way You Move
  4. Sparrow
  5. Breaking You
  6. Oh My Soul
  7. Won Me Over
  8. No Turning Back
  9. Lament
  10. Wherever You Go
  11. Slow
  12. New Song

Throughout 2010, Audrey Assad has garnered praise for her album The House You’re Building. With many awards for her debut, including Amazon.com’s Best Christian Music of 2010 and iTunes Breakthrough Album of the Year for the Christian genre; listeners have come to love her musical style, challenging lyrics, as well as her passionate energy and honesty, sharing a piece of herself with everyone as she sings her songs. ‘For the Love of You’, ‘Everything is Yours’, ‘Restless’ and ‘Carry Me’ have been my favourites on The House You’re Building, and as I listened to her sophomore release, Heart, which released on Valentines Day 2012; I found myself to enjoy that album much more. Through her co-writing with Derek Webb and Matt Maher, Audrey has created a 12 song album full of poetic lyrics and strong piano melodies. This is one of the most lyrically poignant and musically crafted Christian albums of 2012 so far, and one of my favourite.

‘Sparrow’ is a song based upon the popular bible verse when Jesus is speaking to the crowd, where he shows that life is more than the clothes on our back, or the food that we eat. The sparrows and birds of the air are shown to be taken care of by the God of the universe, so how much more can God look after us? As I listen to the guitar riffs, piano melodies and Audrey singing the lyrics ‘…I sing because I’m happy – I sing because I’m free; His eye’s on the sparrow…and I know He’s watching me…’ I am reassured and comforted that I can indeed sing, because of what He has done and not what I do. This song is a declaration of sorts, as Audrey explains, ‘…there’s value in singing about being happy and free in Christ…’ What an amazing hymn redone, and one of the album highlights.

‘Won Me Over’ is the second single from the album, and speaks about how Audrey came to Christ. Through electric guitars and a radio-friendly melody, Audrey asserts that ‘…I was full of fear and prone to wander, lost & lonely till the day you won me over…’ This is the power of God’s love, able to catch us no matter how far we try to run away. He is the shepherd and we are the lost sheep. He is the father and we are the prodigal son. He is the man and we are the lost coin. No matter what occurs in our lives, He always comes for His children. In a similar theme, ‘Wherever You Go’ is another of my favourite tracks. Sung from God’s perspective, this is a comforting yet confronting song, and reminds me of the ever-famous Psalm 139. In this bible passage, the Lord shows us that He knows everything about us, and He always runs after His children when they stray. Through a piano-driven melody and light percussion, I was able to reflect on the fact that God is ‘…coming for you wherever you go…’ No matter how far we feel like we can’t go back to the Father, God reassures us that ‘…I’m never gonna stop following you…’

‘No Turning Back’ is complete with clapping sounds, and other interesting percussion instruments, and as Audrey places her ‘Brooke Fraser’ hat on to sing this hymn-inspired song, this is a song that holds a special place in my heart. This is a statement; that we are not going to turn our backs on the journey that is set before us, the journey to the cross and to Jesus and what He has for us for the rest of our lives and towards eternity. As Audrey sings ‘…Though none go with me, still I will follow…’ I am ever pleased at this bold statement, that even if we are the only ones in the world that we know who are following Christ, we will continue to do so, because of our commitment and love for our King.

No album is complete without reflective songs that speak volumes lyrically to the listener’s heart. In Heart, there are several songs that showcase Audrey’s powerful vocals, heartfelt lyrics and brutal honesty as she sings some of the most vulnerable songs in her career. ‘Breaking You’ is a honest ballad about someone who is about to give up on life, feeling like no one can come to their. As Audrey sings ‘…you’re down on your knees cause your life is not what you thought it would be…lift up your head; help is on the way and it won’t pass you by; you just got to reach out your hand…’ we understand that there is always hope in the hopeless of situations. ‘Oh My Soul’ is a contemplative melody with just the piano for the listeners to reflect upon how we should just ‘…love your God…’ This simple song also reminds us not to be consumed by the worries and issues of this world ‘…your worries will never love you – they’ll leave you all alone, but your God will not forsake you…’ ‘Lament’ speaks about one of the most confronting issues within each of us, wanting to be Mary but still hanging onto the Martha longer than we need to. Another piano driven song, Audrey speaks to the heart of the topic at hand, ‘…I am a picture of contentment and I’m dissatisfied, why is it easy to work and hard to rest sometimes?…’ All we have to do is to sit at the Lord’s feet, and when we understand that we can set the worries that we are constantly struggling with at the cross, we can be free to be the Mary that God wants, listening to His voice as He leads us into peace and rest.

‘Even in Winter’ infuses the electronic keyboard with a steady drum beat, as Audrey exposes the times in our own lives when it has been winter for so long. Full of motifs and metaphors, this is a song of hope and redemption, where the chorus shows us ‘…Even the winter won’t last forever, we’ll see the morning, we’ll feel the sun…’ This is also a hopeful song, and I’m sure it’ll encourage many of its listeners will agree. We will overcome the dark periods in our lives, because we have the living God with us right beside us. Lastly are the book-ended ‘Blessed are the Ones’ and ‘New Song’, both incredible choices to being the first and last songs on the album called Heart. ‘Blessed are the Ones’ speaks about marriage, Audrey’s in particular. Through the use of the electronic keyboards creating an 80s aura, Audrey proclaims ‘…further up & further in – we have nowhere else to go, as we plant the seeds of toil & tears, it’s beauty we will sow …’ This is how each marriage is, hard work. Sometimes married life isn’t easy and there will be obstacles along the way. This song is a testament, that ‘…love is all we need…’, that the love between a husband and a wife will overcome even the toughest of situations, but more importantly, the love that we all have for God, and the love that He freely gives to us. ‘New Song’ is a worship moment, with acoustic guitar and keyboard riffs soaring the melody into where Audrey proclaims ‘…I need a new song…’, a song to glorify the King of Kings that has captured her heart.

Overall: To finish off an album with the words, ‘…blessing and honour, and glory, and power and praise and worship, they belong to you…’ is a fitting tribute to an album that has given the listeners a glimpse into the life of Audrey, through her moving lyrics of love, loss, hope, dreams and giving everything to Christ. With lyrical poetry in a similar vein to Bear Rineheart of needtobreathe or Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, this album is not to be missed if you are searching for an album with metaphors and imagery that will uncover some issues that have been buried for so long. Creatively thoughtful, if you’re a fan of needtobreathe, Brooke Fraser or Switchfoot, this album is for you!

RIYL: Brooke Fraser, Nichole Nordeman, Jon Foreman, needtobreathe

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3

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