Artist: Karyn Williams
Title: Only You
Label: Inpop Records
Release Date: 8/28/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Every Good Thing
- Rest in the Hope
- Just May Be
- Waiting in the Rain
- Hey There
- Enough for Me
- This is Freedom
- Only You
Recently signed to Inpop Records, Karyn Williams is one to lookout for if you’re a fan of all things CCM (like me!). With her musical and vocal style akin to artists like Avalon and Jaci Velasquez; these 11 tracks are some of the most fun and energetic of the year, bringing with it hope and comfort to those who need meaning and purpose. Reminding us that God is never far away, continuing to guide us through our lives as we live our days for Him; Only You showcases many genres, from guitar-driven melodies to piano-only songs, emphasising lyrical moments as listeners immerse themselves in biblical truths, understanding that ‘…this is freedom, nailed to a tree…’ (‘This is Freedom’). With hit single ‘Rest In the Hope’ resonating with many listeners around the world as it speaks of finding comfort in Christ as we journey through difficult situations; Karyn’s first album release is hopefully one of many. Bringing a sense of cheer, joy and vibrancy into the Inpop artist roster; Karyn’s inventive lyrical moments throughout has led Only You to be one of my favourites of the year so far! With ‘Rest in the Hope’ showing some of the most ingenious and heartfelt songwriting skills I’ve heard this year alongside MercyMe’s ‘The Hurt and the Healer’ and Matthew West’s ‘Forgiveness’; Only You is something to savour for many months and years to come!
‘Rest in the Hope’ is the first single, and listening to the story behind it makes me admire and love it even more. As Karyn shares about how the inspiration for the song was her father’s cancer announcement, she reminds listeners that when something earth-shattering happens, all we can do is trust in Christ- ‘…for months I walked around in that fog praying, ‘Lord help me understand,’ and the whole time I felt like the Lord was saying, ‘You’re not going to understand. You have to trust me. I’ve got this and even though you don’t understand, it doesn’t mean that I’m not still in control’…’ Through a strong piano introduction and an energetic drum beat, we are reminded to rest in God’s promises for us, that though I may be ‘…facing a new unknown tomorrow I am sure that I’m gonna rest in the hope that I’m Yours…’; words that may seem easy to proclaim but sometimes harder to live out. Listening to Karyn’s testimony, and how currently, her dad is in remission; I am encouraged to press on with life, moving into the unknown knowing that Christ is right beside me. Through her powerful vocals and the violin background (added in the second verse), ‘Rest in the Hope’ is an anthem for many around the world, and one of my favourites on the album. Well done Karyn for such a vulnerable and heartfelt melody!
Originally on Karyn Williams’ Wake Up EP released digitally in 2011; ‘Hey There’, ‘This is Freedom’, ‘Banner’ and ‘Only You’ are all highlights on Only You, each providing the listener hope, reassurance, and carefully-placed reminders of God’s love and grace, with freedom found in Christ alone. With reverbing electronics starting ‘Hey There’, we are encouraged through this anthem that ‘…He knows right where you are, and what you’re going through…’ It may seem a little cliché, but we can never hear this truth enough as we absorb ourselves in the confidence the melody provides. ‘Banner’ is a jazz-like guitar driven melody filled with joyful moments as Karyn sings about how God is flying the banner of love over us even when we ‘…fall over and over again…making the same mistakes that I’ve made before…’ A melody that anyone can dance to, Karyn capitalises on her ingenious writing style and vocal ability to create a potential radio single in ‘Banner’, giving listeners hope that God loves us beyond what we can imagine. Both ‘Only You’ and ‘This is Freedom’ are primarily piano-based, featuring just a piano and light percussion as Karyn gives us a reason and invitation to come to Christ, as ‘…only You mend all that I’ve have broken…’ (‘Only You’) and how even in the moments when life leads us to question everything around us, we ought to remember that ‘…from the ashes is beauty raised… my hands [are] lifted from these broken chains…’ (‘This is Freedom’). With both these songs giving me peace that Christ is our secure foundation, comfort and rock in times of uncertainty, Karyn’s musical arrangement simplicity has enhanced these songs meanings, as listeners are given a time of contemplation to consider Christ’s unending love. Well done Karyn for such compelling tracks!
So many genres are incorporated in Only You, from the acoustically driven ‘Every Good Thing’, to the dancing electronic feet stomping, hand clapping ‘Possible’; relaying themes of Christ being the giver of good things to His children (‘Every Good Thing’), and that with Him, every impossible situation turns around as we proclaim that ‘…I’m living with a confidence, no matter what I’m up against, there is one who makes it all make sense…’ (‘Possible’). Featuring a swaying acoustic guitar beat similar to Kerrie Roberts’ ‘Without Love’, ‘Every Good Thing’ shows us how to appreciate the simpler things in our lives, displaying gratitude as we find how blessed we are with God giving good gifts to His children; thereby giving praise that ‘…every good thing [is] so much more than I deserve…’ With the musical introduction of ‘Possible’ similar to Bellarive’s ‘Love Has Found Us’, this is one for the long trip- winding down the car windows and blasting the stereo as we proclaim that ‘…every dream, every plan is possible…when it’s in bigger hands…’ The most musically different compared to her other melodies on the album, Karyn stretches her musical boundaries and incorporates and different musical style, certainly to be commended in the process, with the end product resulting in one of my favourites on the album!
In a family of 19 with 14 adopted, Karyn has always been an advocator for adoption, even writing the song ‘Just May Be’ to encourage listeners to move out of our comfort bubbles and help someone in need. Though it may not be adoption, we should always be aware of those who need our care, as Karyn reminds us that ‘…you just may be the answer to a prayer…the only heaven some will ever see…’ Filled with strong guitars, harmonious backing vocals and an infectious melodic undertone, ‘Just May Be’ is a reminder of everyone’s value, and as we live our lives and interact with our fellow neighbours and friends, our joy and love will be able to inspire others through their own journey with the Lord. Finally are the melodies ‘Call’ (the album opener), and ‘ballad-of-the-album’, ‘Waiting In the Rain’; both promoting the same theme of God answering our prayers. As ‘Call’ gives a hopeful response through the dynamic keyboards and drums, as Karyn imparts advice to others ‘…when your faith is broken and you’re on your knees again… call and He’ll come running…’; ‘Waiting in the Rain’ is a Job-like plea as Karyn cries out to Christ through the piano, urging Him to ‘…speak peace into my heart, with just one word I know the clouds will part…’ With many listeners relating to initial silence from God in the midst of calamity, Karyn states her intentions to never leave Christ, giving us a timely affirmation that God is always at work, and though we may not understand the situation, every circumstance leads to God’s glory. Well done Karyn for such an emotional melody!
Overall: What more can I say about Karyn Williams that I haven’t already? With such musical versatility and heartfelt honesty, the singer/songwriter from Nashville Tennessee has become one of my favourite new artists for 2012, along with Bellarive, Moriah Peters and An Epic, No Less. Reminding me vocally of Janna Long of Avalon and musically akin to Natalie Grant and Point of Grace, Karyn’s poignant lyrical reminders of Christ’s unfailing love is enough for her to hopefully earn a Dove Award nomination next year for New Artist. Already anticipating album 2, Karyn’s heart for music ministry is evidently apparent through all eleven tracks. Well done Karyn for such a satisfying musical experience!
RIYL: Avalon, Natalie Grant, Point of Grace, Jaci Velasquez
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3