Album Review :
Karianne Larson - Bright

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Artist: Karianne Larson
Title: Bright
Label: independent
Release Date: 2/11/14
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre


  1. Bright
  2. I Like You
  3. The Sun Will Rise

Independent artists have been giving us some powerful music lately. That’s not to say that what out there within the label endorsed and signed Christian music community isn’t that great- it’s just that indie Christian music, and I’m starting to come to this realisation lately, is able to create music with much more freedom than those who are signed. Without the pressures of trying to create a song for radio. Without the expectations of producing and making an album every so often, just to give listeners what they want and crave for the sake of it. Indie artists, especially indie Christian ones, have been able to break the mould of what it means to create music in a way that goes beyond just releasing albums, signings, and singing in order to get a number 1 radio hit. Artists like Ellie Holcomb, Tiffany Thompson, Hearts of Saints, Evan Wickham, Lex Anderson, John Waller, Joanna Beasley, Marthe De La Torre and Seth & Nirva, have all shown us that you don’t have to be signed in order to create great music. Enter in another indie Christian artist, Karianne Larson. With this young talented woman casting her net a little wider to incorporate pop and acoustic into her genre as well as singing about Christian themes, Karianne has been able to use her gifts for music and her guitar-playing ability to bring listeners to a point where they can think about life, love, God and everything else that is important in the lives that we lead. With an acoustic guitar in her hand, Karianne has gifted us with 3 original tracks, and while each of them don’t necessarily about God, it does however give us something to reflect and pause upon, as we think about the themes of human love, the brightness inside of us as we wonder where that comes from, as well as whether we ourselves have more apathy in us than we care to admit, when it comes to sharing the gospel, helping the less fortunate, and being reminded that ‘…the sun will rise…but my own eyes are going blind…’ (‘The Sun Will Rise’). With a folksy and acoustic vibe, these songs can be easily enjoyed by anyone who wants to have some music to reflect upon, or if you enjoy similar artists like Audrey Assad, Ellie Holcomb or Bethany Dillon.

Starting off the album with ‘Bright’, we are introduced to Karianne’s soothing and heartfelt voice, as she makes her exclamation about a relationship (maybe it’s with a guy, or with her family), and how that bond has made her bright, alive, and able to make challenging decisions and risk things, knowing that it is the bond she has that is able to carry her through. While this song has no mention about God, I can’t shake the sense of how God can still use this, and remind ourselves that the relationship we have with God, and the heartfelt communion between created and creator, can also give us similar feelings to what Karianne describes in the song. With Christ in us, and Christ within us, we can accomplish more things that we can ever know, or even believe possible. With poignant words of how ‘…You’re my favourite reason I stay awake at night, You make me want to risk it all and put it on the line, You got this way about You, You make me come alive, and when I close my eyes, it’s still bright…’, I am able to reflect on the knowledge that as we delve more deeply into God’s presence and love, our fears and troubles, while they don’t necessarily disappear, they become dim in the light of who Christ is. Everything is brighter with the Lord in our lives, and as we share with others the love that Christ has shared with us, we can hopefully give them the bright feeling that we ourselves have been given. Well done Karianne for such a compelling and hopefully challenging song, to motivate us to show our brightness, beauty and wonder to those we feel compelled to be in relationship, communion and fellowship with.

Karianne’s continues to deliver emotionally encouraging songs in both ‘I Like You’ and ‘The Sun Will Rise’, with the former describing a relationship (maybe a boyfriend-girlfriend one) while the latter song describes the moment when we realise in our hearts that the sun will rise, but our heads are trying to grapple with the fact that the dawn comes after the night, the joy comes after the sorrow, and we wonder, worry, and often obsess about why the sun hasn’t risen in our lives yet, or whether God even comes through for us during the circumstances that we in (when we know already that God in fact is present and active in the places we are in). The fun filled nature of ‘I Like You’, shown through bouncy keyboard riffs, still nevertheless has something serious to say, as Karianne delivers the words of how ‘…it’s a really good day to be alive, especially since You’re by my side…’, and we are met with Karianne singing these words to a friend. While this song is very ‘earthly-relationship’ in nature, I am reminded that the love we feel for our friends and family, is only a smidgen of what God feels for us. And if this song’s only goal is to give us a reminder of how much God loves us and how much God is singing His love an joy over us, then this song has accomplished what God has wanted it to. Ending this great (albeit short) EP is ‘The Sun Will Rise’, a song that’s devoted to the listener who may find it difficult to carry on in their lives for whatever reason. A song to give listeners hope, the knowledge that the sun will rise, that God will make great things out of the worst possible situations, is something that I’m sure people say they believe, but when they’re in that situation, apathy takes over, and we think we can control the situation ourselves instead of surrendering to God and allowing Him to make the beauty and the hope in the circumstances we are facing. With an acoustic guitar, we are met with vulnerabilities by Karianne, as she opens up to her listeners to sing out ‘…and I want to wake up faster, want to know what I’m after, but I’m too busy, counting down the days…’, as we are reminded that even if we do want to think about things that matter, we can often be too busy with surviving from day to day, or just invested in things that seemingly do not matter, for us to be concerned with bigger issues. A song that will hopefully bring listeners to the point of making decisions and choosing to believe that in any circumstance they are in, God’s able to hold things together; Karianne has been able to save the best song for last in ‘The Sun Will Rise’. Well done Karianne for giving us a thoughtful song, and one of my favourite acoustic pop melodies in 2014, and favourite since Lauren Hick’s ‘Hero’.

Overall: Karianne’s latest pop EP is something to sit up to take notice of, and while this EP as a whole doesn’t necessarily have ‘on the surface’ spiritual themes, it does however give us a window and glimpse into themes, thoughts and things for us to ponder and consider as we live our lives, and live in well to the full. A life without apathy is what we are trying to strive towards, and Karianne’s EP, is hopefully a catalyst and a vessel for hope and change to anyone who hears it. An EP to listen to and enjoy if you love indie acoustic pop, Karianne’s EP has been able to pike up my interest in her music. Well done Karianne for such a compelling and satisfying EP. Now to listen to the previous album, Let’s Lose Track of Time.

RIYL: Audrey Assad, Francesca Battistelli, Ellie Holcomb, Bethany Dillon, Jillian Edwards

Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3