Title: The Hurt and the Healer
Label: Fair Trade Services
Release Date: 5/22/12
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- You Know Better
- You Don’t Care At All
- The Hurt and the Healer
- To Whom It May Concern
- You Are I Am
- Take The Time (w/ Bear Rineheart of needtobreathe)
- Don’t Give Up On Me
- Hold On
- Best of Me
- The First Time
MercyMe have written many stellar songs throughout their career, ever since their number 1 hit, ‘I Can Only Imagine’. With top-charting melodies like ‘God With Us’, ‘All of Creation’, and ‘In the Blink of an Eye’; MercyMe are back with their highly-anticipated album, The Hurt and the Healer. Their lead single and title track on the album is impacting airwaves since it released to radio in January and as lead singer Bart Millard explains the theme of the album in general, ‘…The Hurt & The Healer is a celebration of that moment when these two worlds collide: the deep need for healing and the God who provides it…’ The central theme of an album that is one of the most anticipated for 2012, MercyMe have created one of their most mature and lyrically profound of their career, with much musical experimentation to show that the album is one of the rockiest they have ever done. With lots of driving electric guitars and synths for fans of the rock genre, this is an album full of contemplative moments where you can sit back and let God minister to your soul.
Starting off with opening song, ‘You Know Better’; Bart declares his intentions through the distorted guitar ‘…you think I know by now who’s running the show, and what really matters, but I keep picking a fight with letting go and keep getting hammered…’ This is a song of the struggle within us to let go the control that we so want to have, because it’s predictable. We know what is around the corner, and we can manoeuvre the events to suit the outcome we all desire. But then God comes along and we realise that ‘…you know better…’ and ‘…I’m not the one in control…’; and it is a sobering thought- that though I don’t have all the answers, God knows what we need, even if we don’t know ourselves. Starting the album with a bang, MercyMe are determined to make this experience less about us, showing that God is our healer to our hurt.
‘Best of Me’ and ‘You Don’t Care At All’ are alternative musical arrangements that fit right into an album that has stretched them lyrically and musically, creating an album exceeding The Generous Mr Lovewell quality-wise. Complete with all its electronic distortion, Bart sings out ‘Best of Me’, asking God ‘…why would I want to try and meet you halfway? Why would I back down when there’s still fight in me?…’ as we understand his heart. Realising of how we can’t do things half-heartedly, we mustn’t become the lukewarm Christian spoken about in Revelation 3:16 that doesn’t stand for anything hot or cold. Because of this, Jesus asserts that ‘…because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth…’ Through listening to this song, it is clear of Bart’s decision to ‘…give You the best of me…’; encouraging each of us in our Christian walk as we walk daily with Christ. ‘You Don’t Care at All’ is a weird title in an album proclaiming that ‘Christ Cares’, but delving into a track with an explosive introduction full of heavy guitars; we find that Christ doesn’t care about our old sinful lives. Bart declares with heart and soul, that ‘…all of my yesterdays, all of my past mistakes, you’ve thrown them all away, you don’t care at all…no matter what I do, what I am going through, it’s already died with you, you don’t care at all…’ What an awesome feeling that God calls us redeemed, forgetting the sin that has plagued our lives before our new life in Christ. Well done MercyMe for this 3:05 minute rocking tune!
‘Don’t Give Up on Me’ is a fast-paced rollercoaster of a song complete with laser and other electronic sounds, with Bart raising the questions, ‘…will you find me, no matter where I am? Will you forgive time and time again? I feel like a child wondering, it’s hard to believe, to comprehend you would love me in the state I’m in…’ There is part of us that knows that God has accepted us into His kingdom, but there’s always a nagging feeling that eats at us, asking ‘Is God really going to stay with us, no matter what?’ A song about reassurance from God about whether ‘…when the world comes crashing down, will you still be with me?…’; we are met with the answer in its companion, ‘Hold On’. It is through the Lord’s creation that we can see that God is for us, advocating for His children no matter what our decisions are. As Bart reminds us of the truth in this song full of acoustics and light percussion ‘…if you think that this is the best that it can get, oh the wonder of it is, you ain’t seen nothing yet, just hold on…’ God is showing us that the best in our lives is yet to come, not condemning us for our past mistakes, a theme that’s further explored in ‘To Whom it May Concern’. A letter at heart, this song is ‘So Long Self’ Part 2, complete with electronic keyboard sounds and guitar riffs, placing the melody into a minor key. Bart shares God’s heart of not condemning, that ‘…we’re not throwing stones, you are not your shame…’ Isn’t it a freeing thing to know that it’s not about performance, but all about His unconditional love for us?
Lastly are my 2 favourite songs. ‘The Hurt and the Healer’ is genius; and a definite nomination for the Doves next year. Speaking about dark moments in our lives, Bart offers up hope in the lines ‘…it’s the moment when humanity is overcome by majesty, when grace is ushered in for good and all our scars are understood…’ During the moment when we realise God’s love that covers our hurt, even when the pain that we feel doesn’t go away, we can rest assured that God is walking with us during the difficult times. Even when disasters and calamities strike, we can say, ‘…You take my heart and breathe it back to life…’, one of the most reassuring lyrics in MercyMe’s career. Inspired by his own cousin’s death, Bart exposes his vulnerability amidst the guitars and backing tracks, creating one of the most emotive tracks on the album. ‘You Are, I Am’ is certainly another hit as Bart proclaims that it is who God is that grounds our own identity. The chorus is poetically powerful, as Bart declares that ‘…You’re the one who conquers giants, You’re the One who calls out kings, You shut the mouths of lions, You tell the dead to breathe, You’re the One who walks through fire, You take the orphan’s hand, You’re the one Messiah, You are, I am…’ God is the one who can save us, even from ourselves, the ‘I AM’ for eternity. God is not only the Alpha and Omega, but it is in Him that we find our identity, thus, because ‘You Are’, we can say ‘I am’! What an awesome message for a song that has become one of my favourites!
Overall: MercyMe have crafted 10 tracks that take us on a musical journey that is one of the most rewarding of 2012. With plenty of rock songs to please the alternative genre, The Hurt and the Healer stretches musical boundaries to boldly assert it’s authority as one of this year’s standout albums. In the same calibre as Christy Nockels Into the Glorious or Bluetree’s Kingdom, this album is not to be missed. Well done MercyMe for such a captivating musical experience!
RIYL: Sanctus Real, Third Day, needtobreathe, Leeland
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3