Artist: Josh Wilson
Album: Life Is Not a Snapshot
Label: Sparrow Records
Release Date: September 8, 2009
Reviewer: Eric Pettersson
2. Before the Morning
4. Do You Want to Know
5. How to Fall
6. Right in Front of Me
7. Amazing Grace (instrumental)
Josh Wilson’s debut Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup was an impressive entrance to the CCM world. With smart, thoughtful lyrics and quality music, Wilson stepped above many artists who have been doing this for years. This year’s follow up, Life Is Not a Snapshot, continues along this trajectory without disappointment.
The album begins with the first radio single, “Sing,” which has a catchy Coldplay-eque intro. Unfortunately, the rest of the track goes on to be the weakest song on the record with mediocre lyrics that fit a bit too comfortably into mainstream “contemporary style” church music. The song calls everyone to sing to God because God is great. While I do not disagree with this message, I think it’s a bit too basic and we already have too many songs saying the exact same thing. With “Sing,” Josh Wilson is just adding one more tune to the over-stocked pile. In fact, with seven songs clocking in just over 26 minutes, this record could easily have been an EP if just one song were cut out. This is how I think it should have been released, with “Sing” taking that cut.
“Before the Morning” immediately brings back the ingenuity and deeper themes that I have come to expect from Josh Wilson. This song contains the title of the album, as Josh reminds listeners that we need to see the bigger picture in our faith instead of getting caught up on one bad experience. It is a song about hope through dark situations, but it also carries a bigger message of looking beyond ourselves to see where we fit into the larger story of God’s redemption.
The amps are turned up for “Listen,” a rocker with slight gospel flair. This song pairs with the next as the highlights of the record. “Listen” admits to always talking too much instead of being quiet and listening for God’s voice. “Do You Want to Know” slows it down with a piano and sings about seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes. Here Josh talks about how we say we want the heart of God, but we need to realize there’s a huge cost to the way of the cross because we’ll have to pour ourselves out for the broken people around us and give ourselves to those in hurting situations. It’s easier to ignore the homeless man and the single mother by making excuses about their sin, but if we really want the heart of God then we will have to respond to these people with God’s loving compassion, which may not be the easiest way to live or what we always feel like doing.
After such a heavy hitting theme, Josh lightens the mood with a bouncy love song called “How to Fall.” The attitude is fun and romantic, not the sappy ballad but a light pop-rock track with lyrics that well describe the feeling of being head over heels for a girl.
“Right in Front of Me” deals with doubt and trusting in God even when it doesn’t make any sense. Again, this is a song that goes past the surface to look at deeper and bigger issues of our faith from a fresh and honest perspective. The quality of the music fits in with the earlier songs, showing that Josh Wilson is definitely one of the genre’s more talented artists.
To do an instrumental cover of “Amazing Grace,” which I would guess is probably the most covered hymn around, might seem a little bland at first, but Josh twists the song in his own way to make it fit and still sound creative. It’s done in a fast and joyful way, with what sounds like at least three acoustic guitars each playing a different part. There’s fast acoustic percussion going on too, and a subtle bass worked into the mix.
Overall: Josh Wilson has crafted a worthy follow-up to last year’s debut. With the exception of “Sing,” his songs continue to rise to the top of the CCM genre, both musically and lyrically. His work is creative and thoughtful, and I really like his emphasis on getting past the surface to look at the bigger picture.