Album Review :
Brandon Heath - Give Me Your Eyes [The Acoustic Sessions EP]
Artist: Brandon Heath
Title: Give Me Your Eyes [The Acoustic Sessions EP]
Label: Reunion Records
Release Date: 4/24/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- I’m Not Who I Was
- Give Me Your Eyes
- Wait and See
- Your Love
Brandon Heath has had a stellar career so far in the contemporary Christian music industry. Winning new artist of the year for the 2008 Dove Awards was only the start for Brandon; with numerous other nominations and accolades following. With several radio hits, including ‘Your Love’, ‘Give Me Your Eyes’, ‘Wait and See’ and ‘I’m Not Who I Was’ from his past 3 studio albums, ‘Don’t Get Comfortable’, ‘What If We’ and ‘Leaving Eden’; Brandon also received a Grammy nomination for ‘Leaving Eden’ in the Gospel/Contemporary Album of the Year category earlier in 2012. Though I expected Brandon to release a new studio album next year, considering he is still being acknowledged for commercial and critical success on the back of his 2011 ‘Leaving Eden’ release; this is certainly not the case. Releasing last Tuesday (April 24th), Brandon’s ‘greatest hits’ acoustic album entitled ‘Give Me Your Eyes [The Acoustic Sessions EP]’ went on sale in digital format. Showcasing some of the best singing in his career, Brandon’s EP is one of the best he has done. Stripping down some of his beloved songs in a more intimate acoustic setting, this is a must for an avid Brandon Heath collector.
‘Your Love’ is my favourite from this EP, and is the last track. One of Brandon’s biggest hits throughout his whole career, this song is a declaration, that ‘…your love, the only thing that matters…’ Set amongst the backdrop of the ever-loving banjo, together with the acoustic guitar and the keyboard, ‘Your Love’ takes on a whole new perspective as Brandon sings out the lyrics with such passion and emotion, understanding that it is the Lord who is the ‘…hope in the morning…the light when the night is falling…’ There is a ‘call-and-answer’ happening throughout the track with both the keyboard and the banjo, similar to a conversation between two people. Not sure if that was intentional by Brandon, but it is a nice added musical gesture, implying the way that God speaks with us answering (or not answering in a way that He wants us to!). As Brandon explains the meaning behind the song, ‘…there’s a line in the second verse that says, “not everything is lost.”…there are things in our hearts that are still intact…a childlike faith inside of us that God urges us to keep. I want to protect what’s still untainted and still pure…’ As we reflect upon this, God’s love for us and our love for Him is something that should be valued, and kept sacred, honoured and protected as much as we can. This song is a reminder that God’s love sustains us in the moments when we really need it.
Throughout the rest of the album, Brandon showcases some of his greatest radio hits. ‘Give Me Your Eyes’ is one of his biggest hits on his second album, What If We, even winning him a Dove nomination for Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year. On this acoustic album, Brandon tweaks the song a bit, shortening it by half a minute, quite noticeable at first listen. The omission of the first chorus before the second verse may upset some avid Brandon Heath followers, but the whole acoustic arrangement works well despite the difference in length. Brandon sings his heart out of this song, through all the soft pianos and percussion. Lyrically, this song is one of Brandon’s best, with themes of wanting the Lord to lead us to places and people to help being the focus of this hand-clapping, feet stomping, grooving song that is just as beautiful acoustically as it is originally. ‘I’m Not Who I Was’ is the only song I’ve actually listened to from Brandon’s debut Don’t Get Comfortable, and to be honest, it wasn’t one of the highlights then, so I hoped that this acoustic song would breathe new life into a song that I wasn’t too connected to. Surprisingly, this is a step up from the original, with the soft piano accentuating the lyrical themes of the song. About forgiveness and sharing the deepest fears to the people that we meet on a regular basis, I was able to immerse myself into something very close to Brandon. The last song on the EP (third on track listing) is ‘Wait and See’, and is one of my favourites now, compared to when it was released back in 2008. It was only now in this acoustic setting of piano, acoustic guitars and strings that I was able to concentrate on the lyrical aspect, finding that these words sung are some of the most heart-hitting for me for a long time. Particularly the bridge, when Brandon sings out ‘…still wonderin’ why I’m here, still wrestling with my fear but oh He’s up to something, and the farther out I go, I’ve seen enough to know that I’m not here for nothin’, He’s up to somethin’…’ I am here for a purpose, something that only God has for me to accomplish. God is continuously showing everyone opportunities. It is in these moments that we need to decide whether to trust Him or not; understanding that though we don’t know the full picture, He is God and He knows us better than anyone else.
Overall: There were some obvious omissions to this acoustic album, with ‘Fight Another Day’, ‘The Light In Me’, ‘No Not One’ and ‘Sunrise’ the songs that would’ve been nice. However, this album is a definite for Brandon Heath fans, but even if this is the first album you buy from him, you still would be blessed. With the acoustical arrangements similar to the style of All Sons and Daughters, Sanctus Real, and Bebo Norman, this is an album that will comfort and confront, reassure and discomfort at the same time. A refreshing take on his beloved songs, this is a must for anyone who wants to delve deeper into what the Lord has for their life.
RIYL: Bebo Norman, Sanctus Real, All Sons and Daughters, Josh Wilson
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3