Album Review :
The Beautiful Gate - We All Need Jesus
Artist: The Beautiful Gate
Title: We All Need Jesus
Release Date: 1/28/14
Reviewer: Jonathan Andre
- Fully Devoted
- In My Place
- Step Down
- God’s Word
- So the World Will See
- Unashamed (feat. Brittany Nicole McClure)
- Redemption is Here
- Wholly Yours
- We All Need Jesus
- Children of Destiny
Just like how there’s the popularity of duos and bands, there’s also a slight few of artists who categorise themselves as bands, yet only consist of one person- with Owl City (Adam Young) being a prime example of an artist who is named by his pseudonym rather than just calling him ‘Adam Young’ instead of the popular ‘Owl City’. Enter in The Beautiful Gate, a ministry by Dan Ucherek, a full time missionary in the country of Guatemala since a few years ago. With vocal similarities to Mike Weaver from Big Daddy Weave, this one man band is possibly as unique and fresh as any CCM artist sounds, with his debut album We Will See Jesus being one of my favourite CCM albums from an indie artist in 2014 so far. With heartfelt melodies and a mixture between acoustic pop and radio friendly melodies, this is a great find for anyone who loves CCM (like myself). Releasing in a month that is considered to be one of the most busiest periods of the year in terms of Christian music (with artists like Switchfoot, Jamie Grace, Casting Crowns, Red Roots and David Thulin releasing new material in the first month of 2014), The Beautiful Gate’s first album is a nice surprise, and a great listen if you love acoustic pop with an independent worship flair. From lead single ‘So the World Will See’, an encouraging melody that reminds us of the need to show love to others so that they can see Christ in us, to the worshipful ‘Redemption is Here’, a call for each of us to embrace and fully understand the redemption given to us by the Father; this is an album perfect for anyone who wants to use the album as a means of reflection, or if you love acoustic worship, in a similar vein to artists like Matthew West, Josh Wilson or Big Daddy Weave.
The first single on the album, ‘So the World Will See’ is a moment of realisation and encouragement, as we are met with the theme of evangelism in the four minute track. While not necessarily as confronting, the song nevertheless gives us things to think about as we realise that the world needs to see and hear God’s love, and that we, as Children of God and vessels of His love, ought to be the ones to influence the people we meet and interact with on a daily basis. The heartfelt chorus amidst the guitars and powerful drums, is able to give us a reminder of the urgency of spreading the gospel, and as we hear the poignant words of how we ought to love ‘…so the world will see the Glory of our King and no more will be abandoned in the streets, Jesus won’t You come down and let Your love flow through me so the world will see the Glory of our King…’, a sense of God’s outpouring of love as we share His hope and grace to people is conveyed. With light keyboards to start off a melody that’s certain to convict and comfort at the same time, Dan unveils his heart for the church- to spread Christ’s love to the people we meet. A great song to firstly hear if you want to introduce listeners to The Beautiful Gate, Dan and his music is a perfect gift for anyone who loves similar artists like Sidewalk Prophets, Big Daddy Weave or Chris Sligh. ‘We All Need Jesus’, the title track, is a heartfelt acoustically driven melody that paints to us moments of heartbreak and hope as we hear stories of persona’s struggling with their personal lives, all pointing to the fact that we all need Jesus in our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. While this song somewhat can feel slightly guilt-tripping (like if we don’t help the child without a parent, or if we don’t give love to the orphaned girl, then we’ll feel yucky inside), even though I’m sure it was not Dan’s intention, the song still ministers, and even if one person is encouraged, after this track, to spread the love of Christ to his/her fellow neighbours, then this song and its purpose has been fulfilled. With a nice array of musical undertones, Dan lets the lyrics speak the most to us as we are invited to hear one of the most eye-opening and encouraging songs of the year so far!
‘Mission’, the acoustically driven upbeat track to begin the album in a fashion that brings us to the theme of mission- whether in our own backyard or in the places that God calls us that we may not necessarily go in the first place, Dan cries out with heartfelt poignancy, urging us to the calling of sharing God’s Word as we are given a timely reminder that ‘…there’s so many lives to touch, You will show the love of God, and He will be the only hope in a world that longs for Jesus, and You will show the love and grace that’s in your Father’s holy face, you’re on a mission to a dying world…’ While the acoustics often at times drown out the vocals, the heart of Dan is nevertheless sincere. Even though I may have preferred a better opening track, like ‘Fully Devoted’, an acoustic/electronic track, where Dan gives a great imitation of Mike Weaver of Big Daddy Weave, with reverbs and a heartfelt message of us being fully devoted to Christ rather than just being ‘…a heart with hands and feet, trying to do something for humanity…’; ‘Mission’ however does a great job at always pointing us back to evangelism as being the key for us to share the love of Christ to the world who so desperately need the love that they may not necessarily know they need in the first place. The three minute ‘Step Down’ is a simple acoustic-piano pop melody about God sacrificing Himself for our freedom in a way that will be fit for radio, while ‘God’s Word’ is an acoustic country melody with a musical introduction similar to needtobreathe’s ‘Lay Me Down’, as The Beautiful Gate give us a reminder of God and His Word, and how ‘…my sins, He has forgotten, and they are buried in the sea, a clean white robe, and a golden crown, yeah my God gave His word to me…’, complete with piano riffs and the gruff voice that reminds me so much like Mike Weaver of BDW (which is a great compliment, and who knows- maybe both Dan and Mike have the same vocal coach)?
Throughout the rest of the album, The Beautiful Gate continues to deliver a great acoustic pop sound to bring to the fore worship melodies for the church, a central thematic element that flows through each of the songs on the album. ‘In My Place’ is a moment of thankfulness and praise with light percussion, harmonicas and acoustics as The Beautiful Gate deliver to us a reason for us to be grateful as we hear Dan declare out that ‘…I’m accepted, He put His name in my place and called it grace, I’m accepted…’, while ‘Unashamed’ is possibly my favourite song on the album, with Dan offering us a poignant moment where he relays to us that ‘…it’s only by Your grace, that I come unashamed…’ With a similar theme to Startfield’s ‘Unashamed’ on their 2004 album Beauty in the Broken, this version of ‘Unashamed’ is equally as good, especially with new artist Brittany Nicole McClure singing as well in the duet (by this song alone, I know that Brittany will do well within the CCM industry). ‘Redemption is Here’ tries its hand at electric guitars again, and while as a whole throughout the album, the electric guitar can be overpowering above the rest of the instruments and vocals, Dan nevertheless has heart and hope that covers the little mishaps the album has. As Dan encourages us to believe that ‘…redemption is here, and it’s calling out your name, redemption is here to mend the broken and lame…’; we are encouraged to accept the redemption given to us, and to hopefully have some motivation to bring redemption to others. Ending the album with the originally recorded ‘Wholly Yours’, another melody that pays homage to BDW vocally as Dan reminds us that we are wholly His (all of us, rather than the parts of us we show Christ and the parts of us that we don’t), and ‘Children of Destiny’, track 11 and again another acoustic track that leads us in the theme of our eyes being opened to the children less fortunate than us, and seeing them as who God calls them to be; The Beautiful Gate has delivered some of the most worshipful and poignant melodies on the album, and arguably, some of the most strongest ‘last few tracks’ since the last few songs on Jason Gray’s Love Will Have the Final Word.
Overall: The Beautiful Gate’s first album is a well-rounded solid effort, from an artist who’s certain to excel at his acoustic/praise/CCM craft as the months and years progress. While the album isn’t necessarily as polished as other albums on a label, herein lies the point- that his often unpolished nature of the songs at times gives him an authenticity and realness as we hear the songs that show us poignancy and vulnerability. A great album to purchase if you enjoy acoustic CCM artists, We All Need Jesus has a powerful message of evangelism, and is one of my favourite acoustic album by an indie artist since The Sonflowerz’s Love Walked In. Well done Dan for such an honest and heartfelt project!
RIYL: Chris Sligh, Josh Wilson, Matthew West, Big Daddy Weave, Sidewalk Prophets
Buy the Album: iTunes/Amazon mp3