Artist: Lex Anderson
Release Date: 1/21/14
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- I Want to Need You
- Steal My Heart
‘…If there is one thing the Lord has been teaching me lately it’s how to be patient & trust Him. And sometimes when you think you’ve got it all figured out, He throws a curveball. I have quickly come to learn that I can have plans (and plans are good, as long as you’re willing to let those plans change), but God usually ends up redirecting me. He doesn’t do it to throw me off course, but He does it to help me get off of MY course and back on to HIS course…’ It was through a tweet by Tricia, solo artist and ex-lead singer of the now disbanded group Superchick; that led me to this EP. As Tricia promoted an album by Lex Anderson a few days ago, I was intrigued to say the least, as any recommendation to listen to a different artist, by a Christian pop artist from a band that has been one of my favourites, ought to be good, right? I set off to check out Lex Anderson- her fb, twitter and started to stream some songs on Spotify. Now knowing that Lex was the lead singer of the also now-disbanded Christian pop group Bright Lights Parade (of which I actually have an album by them on my iTunes, maybe I should listen to it later on during the week?…); I listened to what these 6 songs had to bring, and as I listened, I sat back, pleased with myself for taking the plunge and following Tricia’s bold tweet to check out Lex’s music. With Undone EP being my favourite EP of 2014 so far, this young woman of God has been able to weave together heartfelt piano led songs with upbeat radio melodies, to bring to us one of the most worshipful and easy to remember (so songs can be sung in church) EPs of the year. While I have personally not been that familiar with Lex’s previous group Bright Light Parade, this doesn’t matter as Lex’s style of worship can be enjoyed- regardless of whether you have followed her previous group or not. Fun-filled and emotional, encouraging and enjoyable to listen on a sunny Saturday morning; Undone calls us to be just that- undone before the Lord, longing to be in His presence, and being reminded each day that ‘…as far as the heavens, deep as the ocean, cold as the winter, lost in the motions, You find me anywhere…’ (‘Anywhere’)
One of the standout songs on the album, ‘Anywhere’ is a hopeful prayer and an encouraging song that gives us comfort that God is found in all the places that we are- even in the despair, hurt, and heartache we so often feel from time to time. Possibly the song that’s going to impact a lot of listeners as they are reminded of God’s presence in the places where He can’t necessarily be easily felt; Lex poignantly cries out from first note; that she’s caught up in a race, with no sight of a finish line. While we, as both Christians, believers of Christ, as well as humans in general, can sometimes be a little selfish and focused on our own needs, we can miss out on what God is trying to tell us, which is what Lex personally points out in one of the most heartfelt melodies I’ve heard all year. Vocally reminding me so much like Nichole Nordeman (particularly in this song), Lex assures listeners of God’s closeness, that ‘…no matter the distance, no matter the enemy, I’m never abandoned, never beyond Your reach…’, and it is here where we find hope in the uplifting words that’ll hopefully penetrate through all the worry and give us the peace we badly need for each day. With a keyboard riff carrying the song, lyrics are emphasised, and rightly so. ‘Anywhere’ is as hopeful as you can get- that God can and will come to us, anywhere we are, and anywhere we will be. If Romans 8:39 was a person, they would be pleased with how the message of ‘Anywhere’ turned out. Easily my favourite song on the EP, ‘Anywhere’, though I’m not sure if it is a single (if it is, then it’s totally deserved, if not, then it should be), is a personal highlight of mine, on an EP that places worship at the forefront of her mission of what she wants to accomplish on each of these tracks.
‘Marvellous’, another personal favourite of mine, is a powerful worship song, and possibly one of the melodies that can be the most accessible in Sunday worship (ease of singing, chords etc.). With Lex inviting us to declare God has marvellous, the song starts off with a looping percussion beat and some raw electric guitars as Lex proclaims with heartfelt words, of how ‘…I stand amazed, with nothing more to gain, if I’m a sinner condemned, why would you ransom me then?…’, and in a moment of adoration and emotion, Lex is able to bring us along with her on a journey of declaring that God is in fact marvellous and we are not. God is the one who holds it all together, and this song is a true reflection of what it means to stand before the Lord and be reminded, not only of God’s sovereignty, but also of the fact that ‘…all my sin and sorrow, taken and made Your own, You paid for my crimes, with Your blood, not mine…’ A great homage paid to the hymn ‘I Stand Amazed (How Marvellous)’ at the end of the song as a tag to finish it off was a great touch, and especially through electronic voice distortion and hushed instruments, as we focus on the lyrical truths of the declaration that ‘…oh how marvellous, oh how wonderful, and my song, shall ever be…is my Saviour’s love for me…’ ‘I Want To Need You’ is possibly the most CCM-esque song on the album, and with a pulsating drum beat that starts off a song that wouldn’t feel so out of place on a radio station like K-Love, Lex humbly uses this song as a platform to cry out to God, longing for Him to be in her life, and using the chorus to proclaim the words of how ‘…You’re water to my desert heart, find me in the deepest dark, I want to need You, need You, need You…’ About being broken at the feet of Jesus and knowing that it is only at our weakest that He is strong to save, Lex openly peels back her own layers and uses her own personal cry of needing God as a vessel in song- as we hear her heartfelt cry, we too can join in the song and declare alongside her.
The upbeat-ness of the album doesn’t stop there- with the title track ‘Undone’ (the first song on the album) providing us with a great introduction to the EP with guitars, strong drums and a heartfelt vocal by Lex as she lets God know that His love won’t go undone- that we as Christians will carry on the work of sharing and evangelising to our non-Christian family and friends. The emotional chorus that carries a theme of hope and perseverance is something to behold, as Lex reminds us through poignancy and heartfelt enthusiasm; that our hearts need to be ‘…set…on fire, Your love won’t be undone…’- that out of God’s love for us and our love for Him, we will naturally share with others about the change that has occurred in us, and the ramifications, for both ourselves and the people around us. Ending the EP with two reflective songs ‘Steal My Heart’ and ‘Steady’; Lexi places away the guitars and builds a song through keyboards and electronic effects, energy, enthusiasm, and a whole lot of powerful vocals as she instils the themes of hope arriving ‘…with wonder, fix my eyes, on no other, the further I seem to fall, the louder I hear You call…’ as we see God stand steadfast and firm, even when we’re falling apart (‘Steady’); while also providing an intimate song of love to the Father, declaring the words ‘hallelujah’ as we fervently worship our Father as He consumes our heart and rescues us again and again (‘Steal My Heart’). With hope the final message that we can take away from these 6 tracks, Lex ought to be commended for such a powerful EP, and one that’ll be in my top 10 EP’s list at the end of 2014.
Overall: Have we found a gem of a singer, and a modern day Nichole Nordeman in Lex Anderson? While only in her mid twenties, Lex’s heartfelt worship reflected on the album is something mature beyond her years, a similar thing to Nichole and her own songs, all those years ago. A great album if you want to see something new, fresh, invigorating and hopefully encouraging, and something that’s out-of-the-box, compared to the continual radio airplay of the Chris Tomlins or the Matt Redmans of CCM/worship music; Lex and her solo career are certain to only increase in popularity, as these 6 songs give us a glimpse into her own world as a songwriter, singer and musician. Though only hearing about her a few days ago, Lex has become one of my favourite new artists of the year (even surpassing other publicised ones like Carrollton and City Harbor). And with standout songs like ‘Marvellous’ and ‘Anywhere’, this EP, though only 6 tracks, is going to be on repeat on my iTunes playlist for quite a while to come. One of the biggest surprises (in a good way) musically and lyrically in 2014, Lex is a great worship leader, and will hopefully go far in terms of worship, albums and continual success in the future. Well done Lex for such songs of hope, encouragement and courage as we step out and declare that ‘…You see the beauty, make whole the broken, tear down the shame, give hope to the hopeless, You find me anywhere…’ (‘Anywhere’).
RIYL: Nichole Nordeman, Holly Starr, Britt Nicole, The Sonflowerz, Moriah Peters