Album Review :
Jared Anderson - The Narrow Road

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Artist: Jared Anderson
Title: The Narrow Road
Label: Integrity Music
Release Date: 9/4/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre


  1. Bless the Lord
  2. Impossible Possible
  3. The King is Coming
  4. Great I Am
  5. According To His Word
  6. Behold Your God
  7. Pouring it Out For You
  8. Call on the Name of the Lord
  9. When the King Comes
  10. The Narrow Road
  11. 35 Lines
  12. Go Ye
  13. I Am Free

One of the founding members of Desperation Band along with Glenn Packiam and Jon Egan, Jared Anderson has had a well-defined career of critical acclaim and many chart-topping songs throughout his 10 years serving in music ministry. Now releasing his first solo album in more than 3 years, this singer/songwriter with a distinctive voice at times sounding similar to Paul Baloche has crafted 13 tracks of honesty and transparent hopefulness as listeners hear the cries of Jared through heartfelt melodies like ‘Pouring It Out for You’ to upbeat melodies like ‘Bless the Lord’, ‘The King is Coming’ and ‘I Am Free’. As Jared declares his hope for his album The Narrow Road, ‘…this album tells the stories of trials and how they shouldn’t define us… walking ‘The Narrow Road’ isn’t an option for followers of Jesus. Matthew 7:13-14 tells us plainly that it’s a necessity…’ Produced by Michael Rossback, bass player in Paul Baloche’s band; The Narrow Road tells of a hope we always have in Christ and how our choices, though having ramifications and consequences to what happens to us, aren’t our identity and that ‘…I am free to run…free to dance…free to live for You…’ (‘I Am Free’). Full of keyboards, acoustics and a much loved vocals (sometimes I even think it’s Paul singing!), Jared’s new album is destined to strike a chord with listeners worldwide, with his Pilgrim Progress inspired album reminding us about the choices we make and the God that’s always leading and guiding our journey through every step!

One of my favourite worship songs ever is the Desperation Band written ‘I Am Free’. Sung with such intense passion and heartfelt honesty as we understand our freedom in Christ, this last song on The Narrow Road also features guest vocalists Glenn Packiam and Jon Egan, both who were involved in the original forming of Desperation Band (with Jon still leading today!) and who both, along with Jared, wrote this wonderful melody of finding freedom in the arms of Jesus as we release everything that has been holding us down. ‘I Am Free’ has always been a joy to listen to and this version is no different. Featuring a great guitar riff introduction with an additional tag ‘…we will dance til the chains fall off…’, we are given a nice metaphor reminding us about how the things keeping us from being free can feel like physical chains unless we surrender it over to Christ. Jon and Glenn are also great additions towards a track that utilises a variety of musical elements, with an emphasis on guitars as listeners are captivated by the simple lyrics yet equally profoundness in how the message of freedom is never sung about enough. The words ‘I am free’ is symbolic of so much, physically and spiritually as we dance along to the electronic keyboards, immersing ourselves in this life-giving melody that is able to bring as much freedom and hope as it does healing and restoration. Well done Jared to finish this album with this gem of a song!

Previously featured on Newsboys’ new album God’s Not Dead, both ‘The King is Coming’ and ‘Pouring It Out For You’ have been some of my favourite worship songs of late, each song highlighting how as Christians, we can anticipate and expect the Lord to ‘show up’ in any circumstance throughout our lives. Because of God’s faithfulness and hand in our lives, we can praise Him, both in good and bad times as we understand that every moment, even the bad ones, are woven into God’s great tapestry especially designed for each of us. Showcasing Jared’s Paul Baloche-like vocals as he creates a space for honest worship and devotion, ‘The King is Coming’ is one of the upbeat songs on the record, and as the guitar riff introduction starts, Jared cries out the ‘…the King is coming…’ refrain, reminding us two-fold that no situation is too big or small for God to come and speak into our lives through; as well as alluding to the day when Christ does come to lead us to eternity with Him. As we rejoice in God’s supremacy as well as His intimacy with humanity, we are able to throw down everything that hinders us to declare ‘…open up the doors, the King is coming…’ ‘Pouring it Out For You’ was co-written with Jonathan Lee (writer of the Phillips, Craig and Dean hit ‘When the Stars Burn Down’), and is destined to become a hit too in the upcoming months. Featuring a piano undertone, we are met with a beautifully portrayed metaphor of us pouring out our lives out, so that we can fill the space with His! Such poignant lyrics are met in the bridge as Jared earnestly brings his moment of surrender in ‘…my heart and flesh they cry out holy, Jesus be my one and only joy…’, understanding that in every moment of the day, we are able to give God glory for who He is, and who we are in Him. Well done Jared for these two album standouts!

Listening to The Narrow Road I am able to immerse myself in the theme of how God delights over us choosing the road to follow Him, with listeners reminded of God’s influence over our lives as we understand His involvement and guiding as we live everyday life. ‘Impossible, Possible’ is the first single on the album, with Jared presenting an invitation to ‘…you crooked thieves, cast your cares and believe; He is the water…that ever runs dry…’ in his best ‘Chris August-voice’ (and a very good one too!). With a light electric guitar and simple radio-style acoustics, this simple message of Jesus making the impossible possible when it comes to people surrendering to Christ and leaving their sin behind them; its impact is surely profound to those who hear it! ‘Great I Am’ is one of Jared’s famous melodies ever. A simple song at proclaiming Jesus’ majesty, declaring that He is ‘…God Almighty, the Great I Am, who is worthy, none beside thee…’; Jared is able to present some of the most honest words of the album to create a 6 minute intimate worship moment between us and God. One of the most captivating songs on the album and destined to be on ‘repeat’ on my iTunes player for a while, ‘Great I Am’ lets us soak in His presence as we try to fully comprehend His love for us! The title track (the longest length on the album), ‘The Narrow Road’, starts with an electronic keyboard reverb as Jared leads with confrontation ‘…wide the gate, broad the road that leads to destruction…’ but later soars into the repeating tag ‘…the narrow road is the one I’ll travel on…’, giving his declaration that no matter what temptations come our way, we will stand firm in God’s promise for our lives, even if it means that the narrow road seems more ‘difficult’. ‘Call on the Name of the Lord’ is a 2 minute track (that contrasts ‘The Narrow Road’ in length!) with just the piano as Jared invites those who need the Lord’s comfort and presence to just call His name. Simple and insightful, this song reminds me Paul Baloche’s ‘Your Blood Ran Down’, short in length yet equally touching and emotional for those who need it!

‘Bless the Lord’ is a great album starter with Jared vocally reminding me of Matt Maher, through the guitars and percussion giving a distinct vocal uniqueness to it. As Jared sings out the lyrics, ‘…bless the Lord oh my soul…let everything within me bless the Lord…’, we are met with a hymn-like melody full of worship and praise- a daily reminder that worship is a lifestyle, and that it is a daily choice to proclaim that ‘…at all times I will bless the Lord…’ ‘According to His Word’ starts off with a piano introduction akin to something Michael W. Smith would play in most of his instrumental and ballad melodies. As we are confronted with the truth that God supplies everything that we ever need, we can rest assured that our calls, promises and hopeful necessities will be met by our maker. Regardless of our circumstances, whether we’re in years of famine or years of plenty, we can boldly assert that ‘…my God will supply all my needs according to His Word…’ ‘Behold Your God’ is the encouragement to the broken, the hurting and persecuted, those who are in need of a word to lift them up when they are down. As I listen to the line amidst the keyboard undertone ‘…all who are weary come to the fountain, all who are broken, open Your eyes…’, I am encouraged at how Christ is ready to comfort those who are afflicted, reveal Himself to those who are needing divine intervention in their situation. Well done Jared for these three melodies, each with their themes of how God longs to connect with His creation and it is our decision as to whether we want to walk the narrow road, understanding that He will be there every step of our fulfilling journey!

Overall: Jared’s collection of 13 tracks is one that is a certain purchase if you’re a fan of Desperation Band, or maybe even Paul Baloche! With plenty of musical anthems and some timeless classics in ‘I Am Free’, ‘Great I Am’ and most possibly ‘Behold Your God’, ‘The King is Coming’ and ‘Impossible, Possible’; this honest and real portrayal of the narrow road as being a hard one is certainly conveyed, yet we are given the promise of God never wavering or leaving us during our trials and tribulations, and that everything we ever experience will be used by Him to show His glory. The Narrow Road is a great addition for an album to listen to in the car, or just to reflect on an evening to soak in the truth that God is right beside us, giving His input in our lives as we continue to live our lives with Christ as the centre! Almost certain to beat Mark Schultz for top-selling album (second to Lecrae’s Gravity) for the first week of September, The Narrow Road showcases some of Jared’s most personal and reflective melodies to date! Well done Jared for such a rewarding album!

RIYL: Desperation Band, Matt Maher, Paul Baloche, Matt Redman

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3