Artist: Jamie Grace
Title: One Song At A Time
Label: Gotee Records
Release Date: 9/20/11
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Ready To Fly (Prelude)
- Hold Me (Feat. Tobymac)
- With You
- Show Jesus
- Come To Me
- God Girl
- Holding On
- You Lead
- One Song At A Time
- Not Alone
Releasing her hit song ‘Hold Me’ earlier in 2011 featuring TobyMac on background vocals; Dove Award winner Jamie Grace has a song to sing, and from critical acclaim and praise, this song is worth listening to. Suffering from Tourette’s syndrome since an early age, Jamie has taken the Christian music industry by storm with mature song writing beyond her 20 years. Through listening to her debut EP released in 2011, I was impressed with the infusion of its many different musical styles, from ballads to pop rock, funk, folk, country and reggae. Listening to her rendition of dc Talk’s ‘Into Jesus’ is refreshing, giving a new sound to this classic song. Her full length album in September 2011 has earned her many Dove Award nominations, and as I listen to this album numerous times, I am amazed at how much I enjoy this album as a whole, for its mature sound, as well as reflective lyrics. This is an album that would stand out in 2011 as one of the most ingenious and creative albums of the year from a debut artist.
‘Hold Me’ is an urban groove song incorporating pop, folk and reggae, and a sight to behold when TobyMac is at the helm of background vocals. TobyMac personally scouted Jamie Grace to be part of his artist roster at Gotee Records, founded and owned by Toby. As the song lays out before the listener, we are reminded that God always holds us close to Him, and it is what He has done, by taking ‘…my day and…[flipping] it around, calmed the tidal wave and put my feet on the ground…’; that makes us proud to be His children, and as our relationships with Christ deepens everyday, we can’t help but sing this song about surrender and letting go so that God can hold us close. Musically incorporating many styles, the lyrics are captivating and emotional, sincere and heartfelt; and definitely one of my favourite songs from 2011.
Jamie’s foundation is solid, with many of the songs grounded in her relationship with Christ and the Christian walk; with many of her songs reflecting this aspect of her life. ‘Show Jesus’ is one of my favourites from the album; speaking of the topic of evangelism, and living our lives fully for Christ. We bring light everywhere we are, ‘…it’s like flipping on a light switch when you’re walking into this room…’ and as we live each day, we can’t help but shine God’s love everywhere we are, and when we are in relationships with our fellow friends and acquaintances, our infectious zest for life and hope is transferred onto them. Written from the persona of a non-Christian, Jamie shows the listener through thick drum beats, looping percussion and strong echo vocals the effect our lives have on our friends.
Both ‘You Lead’ and ‘Come to Me’ are other tracks; similar to ‘Hold Me’ that talk about surrender. With ‘You Lead’ sung from our point of view, and ‘Come to Me’ from God’s; both speak about our need to lay our worries, cares, hopes, dreams and fears at the foot at the cross, rest in the arms of the Father, and let Him lead us to where He wants us to be placed within the circumstances of our lives. Featuring beat box, clapping, and looping percussion, and a hint of a choir near the end; ‘Come to Me’ is inspired by Matthew 11:28- ‘…Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…’ with Jesus preaching to the crowd about rest in the Father’s arms, peace that comes from a release of worry, from anxiousness to prayer, from fear to hope. ‘You Lead’ is a statement, a prayer that we make, knowing that God always leads us on to places that are better than the ones that we have left. Through the thought out lyrics- ‘…You lead I’ll follow, Your hands hold my tomorrow, Your grip your grace you know the way you guide me tenderly…’ coupled with the rising strings, beat box, and gentle guitars in an acoustic setting; listeners are brought into the song emotionally and spiritually, seeing Jamie’s heart for the Lord through this album and this track in particular. God leads us out of despair and destruction; and into a life abundant with Him by our side. What a fantastic song about surrendering control to the One who created it.
‘God Girl’ starts off with ‘oh, oh, oh’ lyrical moments, and moves on from there to create a reggae swaying track that every listener can move to. Showing Jamie’s vulnerability, she proclaims that she is a ‘…I’m a God girl that’s who I’ll be from the top of my head to the soles of my feet…’, and from here, we understand the intensity, enthusiasm and devotion to the God that has won her heart. Both the piano driven ‘Holding On’ and acoustic guitar filled ‘With You’ speak about how whenever we cultivate our relationship with the Lord, either by reading the Bible, or just seeking His voice through other people; we are transformed from the inside out, our worries ‘…that’s been weighing on me falls by the wayside when I’m with You…’ With just the piano in ‘Holding On’, our attention turn to the lyrics, and the testimony that comes with it; that when we acknowledge that we are not strong enough to save ourselves; God comes in, giving us ‘…the strength to fight and a heart to believe when it’s hard to believe…’
‘1945’ is a gem, and though on the surface seems to be a cliché of wishing to be in another time period, its effect is actually the opposite. As the song starts with some looping beats that I can dance to, Jamie proclaims from the outset, how she wishes that she ‘…shoulda been born in ’45, in ’54 I woulda been 9, lovin’ my record player by my side; that woulda been nice…’ As she ploughs through the song replacing the ’45 with many different time periods, the listener may receive the impression that this young girl is unhappy with her life. From first listen this actually felt like a weird song to give praise and acclaim for, but after a few listens, I was in awe and how God was moving through this fun little track. There is a stanza towards the end of the song that really impacts me, and through honest vulnerability, we take a sneak peek into Jamie’s heart and her belief that God placed her in this time period, that what He wants her to do is special; that ‘…I coulda been born in ’45, but the truth is I got here right on time and I thank God for every day of life, it suits me just right…’ God has placed us in and around the turn of the millennia for a reason; and what we have to offer the world shouldn’t be overlooked. We all have something special inside of us, and as we continue to live our lives sold out for Christ, He will show us what He wants us to accomplish. ‘1945’ is a reminder that we are not an accident, and that we have a role to undertake in this ‘play’ called life.
Overall: As I listen to this album again and again, I can certainly understand and applaud her Dove Award Nominations and wins. With her infectious bubbly personality, her love for Jesus, and her mature writing skills; this album is full of melodies and stories that confront and heal us at the same time. One of the highlights of 2011 in Christian music; with the infusion of many genres and styles, I have thoroughly enjoyed this album, and as you listen, I’m sure you will too!
RIYL: TobyMac, Natalie Grant, Group 1 Crew, Britt Nicole
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3