Artist: Jessa Anderson
Title: Not Myself Anymore
Label: BEC Recordings
Release Date: 9/13/11
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Not What I Thought
- Everyone Has Those Days
- Worship the Lamb
- The Same Place
- Not Myself Anymore
- I Won’t Break
- Moving On
- Don’t Know
Jessa Anderson is the latest signing to BEC Recordings, a record home of Jeremy Camp, Hawk Nelson, Kutless and Seventh Day Slumber. Glancing through the artist lineup, one could be forgiven to mistake Jessa’s genre of songs to be filled with guitars, akin to either Fireflight or Superchick. This is certainly not the case as I listened to the soulful-jazz infused pop melodic tunes that place Jessa in the realm of artists like Ginny Owens, Brooke Fraser and Rebecca St. James. With worship songs like ‘Worship the Lamb’ and ‘Fireflies’ and reflective melodies in the form of ‘Moving On’, ‘Don’t Know’ and ‘Return’; it’s hard to imagine that Jessa’s album was entirely made independently, with BEC Recordings deciding to distribute (after adding single ‘Fireflies’ and retooling ‘Worship the Lamb’). Full of lyrical and musical richness, Not Myself Anymore is a nice addition to a collection if you’re seeking to branch out of the pop-rock mould of music.
‘Not What I Thought’ is the first track off the album, starting with Jessa vulnerably revealing to the Lord that He’s ‘…not what I thought when I saw You, I have been running for so long and so far, I haven’t got what I thought I would find to fill the empty up…’ With light guitars and vocals similar to Francesca Battistelli or Dara MacLean and lyrical themes similar to Steven Curtis Chapman’s ‘God is God’; ‘Not What I Thought’ delves into the heart of our misconceptions of God, and how, as Jessa puts it in a NRT exclusive interview: ‘…I heard about God all my life, [loving Him]…but I also realized that I was [confining]…Him in a little bit…it was a little devastating because in my heart I know that God is so much bigger than I can wrap my mind around…’ Sometimes we may think we have God figured out; then out of left field, He comes and shatters our conception of what He can and can’t do. A reminder of how we must step back and realise that God is much more than we can comprehend; this is a capturing first track from an album that will certainly speak to people in various circumstances throughout their life.
‘Fireflies’, ‘Worship the Lamb’ and ‘My Offering’ are the worshipful melodies on this 11 track musical journey as Jessa peels everything back and gives praise to the Lord, proclaiming that ‘…You illuminate the open air, I am silently catching every glimmer I can…Your beauty radiates, it’s filling the sky…’ (‘Fireflies’); and that ‘…there is nothing I can say, I can sing, to give an adequate description of my glorious King…You are indescribable and that’s why we sing…’ (‘Worship the Lamb’). With a strong piano overtone in each of these three songs, Jessa’s vocals soar as she lays down every inhibition before the Lord, declaring her intentions of praise and worship, singing ‘…there is nothing to give that you don’t already hold…my heart overflows with this offering to you…’ (‘My Offering’). As I listen to these simple yet equally profound melodies, I am caught up with the emotion of Jessa’s honest outpouring of adoration to her King, spurring listeners on to join her as we collectively give praise to the One who is worthy of it!
Both the title track, ‘Not Myself Anymore’, and ‘I Won’t Break’; speak about changes in personality after a failed relationship, emphasised as Jessa boldly asserts, ‘…but I can’t seem to figure out why I’m not myself anymore and I cry all the time, and you, you’re unaccountably gone, you’ve got no explanation for leaving me alone…’ (‘Not Myself Anymore’) Listening to the title track filled with light percussion, soaring vocals and keyboards; I am reminded about how many failed relationships there are, and as Jessa brings this issue to the fore, either out of her own experience or observation; a message is conveyed at how messy break-ups are, and no matter how clean it is, the hurt is still there. However, we know that despite all our pain, God is still with us, nurturing us through our difficulties. Contrasting this to ‘I Won’t Break’, Jessa creates a more hopeful atmosphere as she declares that she won’t break, after all of the terrible things done to her throughout the relationship and the pain caused by the break-up. Pondering on the lyrics, I am certain that God will hold us together despite our circumstances. Well done Jessa for taking a leap to tackle this difficult issue!
Listening to the rest of the album, it can be seen that vertical worship is only an aspect thematically of what Jessa covers; from reminding her listeners that everyone has certain days when nothing goes right and to not worry about it all (‘Everyone Has Those Days’) and assuring that everyone has the same problems and none is more superficial or drastic than the other (‘The Same Place’), to running back to the Father’s arms when we realise that how we’re living our lives is so selfish and inconsiderate (‘Return’). As Jessa explains in her interview about ‘Everyone Has Those Days’, ‘…I hope other people won’t feel so bad about their clumsy moments when they realize it happens to everyone…’ Reminding me of how sometimes I can feel like I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed, I am reminded that these days can happen to anyone, which frees me to live life without judgement. In each of these songs, the keys play in the foreground, creating a piano-based musical atmosphere akin to similar jazz/soul settings in the period eras (‘50s and ‘60s). Especially in ‘Return’, when it’s just light percussion and keys, I am able to soak in the confronting lyrics ‘…afraid of being hurt, we only give until it costs us something, so they won’t see the worst, we tell ourselves it’s better…’, understanding that because of our inadequacies, we need Jesus all the more. It is in our weakness, He is our fortress!
Overall: Jessa’s album Not Myself Anymore incorporates worship and life as these 11 songs show what it means to live a Christian life, on one hand praising God for what He has done, and the other, going through life with problems and issues, allowing God to mould and shape us to become more like Him. Combining soul, pop, acoustic and jazz, Jessa has caught the eye of BEC Recordings (myself also!), leading to a certainly promising future in the music industry. Fans of Ginny Owens or Nichole Nordeman should certainly purchase this album; as you sit back and immerse yourself in biblical truths about who God is and how He leads us through our lives full of calamity and calmness. Well done Jessa for such a thought-provoking album!
RIYL: Ginny Owens, Rebecca St. James, Nichole Nordeman, Brooke Fraser
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3