Album Review :
Gabi DiPace - Bring Me Back To Wonder EP
Artist: Gabi DiPace
Title: Bring Me Back to Wonder EP
Release Date: 7/23/13
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Beat of My Heart
- Breathe In
- Love is Waiting
Within the sea of CCM female artists, from the veterans like Natalie Grant, Amy Grant, Nicole Nordeman, Sara Groves and Rebecca St. James, to currently popular and up and coming artists like Moriah Peters, Lindsay McCaul, Mandisa, Britt Nicole and Francesca Battistelli; it’s hard to find an independent artist with the musical style different to whatever is popular on the radio. Enter in singer/songwriter Gabi DiPace. Releasing her first EP to iTunes, this artist from West Palm Beach, Florida has delivered to us 4 songs full of bright sunny optimism and acoustics to remind listeners that there’s new, fresh and different music artists other than what is publicised on K-Love or Air 1. Having performed with many renowned artists like Britt Nicole, Phil Stacey, Audrey Assad and Phillip LaRue; Gabi reminds us that music is a personal experience, and as she shares her heart for the EP, and that ‘…when people hear my music I want them to feel hope and find healing. I want it to be as honest as a journal…’; we are reminded of how much music can impact and influence our lives for the better. Music is a way of expressing thoughts, with Gabi’s EP travelling into her own thoughts of reflection on ‘…the pain of poverty, confusion and relational brokenness…[as well as the moments of a] laid-back attitude and innocent joy…’ With the only drawback of the EP being that it was only four songs (by the time you’ve heard all the tracks, you feel like you’re just getting started and want to hear more), Gabi, who vocally sounds like worship leader Sarah Reeves at times, delivers one of my favourite acoustic indie EPs of the year so far.
Recently made into a music video, ‘Breathe In’ is the 3rd song on the EP, and one of my personal favourites on the album. With a light acoustic background with a heavy piano presence, Gabi invites us into a moment of stripping all the excuses and things that cover us as we hear Gabi vulnerably asking the question ‘…breathe in, breathe in, breathe out, do you remember grace?…’ While each of us do in fact know what grace is, learning it during Sunday school and all throughout our times at church, we are still asked the question, as if many of us still need reminding of God’s grace and favour on our lives, even at this very moment. A song about letting all our guards fall to the ground and exposing our vulnerabilities, misconceptions, preconceptions, uncertainties and the rest of it to each other and to God, Gabi offers hope in the poignant chorus of how ‘…you don’t have to walk alone…’, a phrase that’s often needed to be heard by many who may need the extra encouragement, or those who may feel like they are really alone. While not the most upbeat and energetic track, the song relies much on its poetic and penetrating lyrical content, which after listening to ‘Breathe In’, you just as I can say that Gabi has a gift for songwriting. Heartfelt and emotional, channelling both Sarah Reeves and worship artist Kari Jobe in this song alone; Gabi’s first single is sure to succeed, both at radio and at live shows, as the song calls us to breathe in God’s grace and let it wash over all our shortcomings we may have and feel. Well done Gabi for one of my favourite tracks on the EP.
While the EP is only 4 tracks long, the benefit is that there are no ‘filler tracks’, tracks here and there that often fill up spaces on a 11-12 track album, rather than each song feeling to the listener that that track is better than the last. Yet here on Bring Me Back to Wonder EP, Gabi’s unique sense of musically styling each track as different from the others, listeners can hear Gabi conquer and tackle another genre of music, further proving her talents, even just through the 4 tracks. The first track on the album, ‘Beat of My Heart’; is a slightly more upbeat track full of piano and strikingly powerful drum beats in the foreground. Singing about seeing God in the places that we may not necessarily be looking in or towards, and how ‘…I see You God in the oddest places. I see your smile in old wrinkled faces…I see Your grace in criminal eyes, I see Your hands border the night…’, we are met with a melody full of moments within the track where we can just stand up and be thankful for God and who He is. With the chorus reminding listeners that ‘…I can’t escape from who You are, I can feel You in the beat of my heart…’, Gabi lets us know that regardless of our circumstances, God is always with us. With light acoustics, sliding noises provided by the electric guitar, and a vocal reminiscent of Joy Williams, Gabi’s powerful vocals is something that the CCM genre really needs, and while it’s only 4 songs, I’m tipping Gabi to become a stellar force within both the CCM and indie music industry in months and years to come.
‘Wonder’ further increases the beat and pace of the album with an upbeat song that showcases the theme of regret, yet painted with a slitter more hope than the normal regret woe-is-me reflective tracks we so often hear. Standing at a solid 4 minutes, Gabi offers up something for us to chew on, presenting to us a dialogue between her and God about how ‘…when I was young I felt a mystery unravelling, right before my eyes with grace…I knew me well and You knew me too, didn’t You…but as time moved on, so did I, looking back I’m wondering why I let You slip away from me…’ It is a common knowledge that sometimes (in fact more often that I could even admit), busyness can take us away from communion with God, and sometimes we too can declare the plea cried out by Gabi, longing for God to bring us back to the wonder and awe of Him. A constant reminder that we need to be constantly and proactively seeking the presence of God in the midst of the chaos and busyness that our lives seem to have us under; Gabi’s soothing vocals create a feeling that the song isn’t one of lament, but one of proactive change and encouragement to listeners. Ending the album with ‘Love is Waiting’ and standing at a short yet effective 2 minutes 37 seconds, this acoustically driven song urges us to take a chance on love, leaving ‘…the past behind, what are you waiting for? Why try to hide, there’s so much more to be living for…’ and thereby placing all anxiety and uncertainty into the hands of Christ, taking a leap of faith in the process. A nice end to an album that’s on the tad short side, Gabi has provided us with 4 potential singles.
Overall: Gabi’s first EP (also funded by independent crowd sourcing tool indiegogo) is one to enjoy if you’re a fan of acoustically driven artists, like Audrey Assad, The Civil Wars, Andrew Peterson or Josh Wilson. Even though I have only heard 4 songs, I still reckon that if Gabi continues to stay true to the music and its style represented through these 4 songs, then she’ll have a great bright future in both the CCM and independent music genres. Coming in second (just below The Sonflowerz Love Walked In) in my list of favourite EP’s of the year, Gabi’s powerful vocals and poetic and poignant melodies are enough for listeners and critics alike to gain interest in this July 23rd release. Well done Gabi for such an enjoyable and powerful EP. Looking forward to a hopeful full-length album release in the near future!
RIYL: The Civil Wars, Sarah Reeves, Audrey Assad, Kari Jobe, Andrew Peterson
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3