Written by: Abby Baracskai-Thigpen (7/30/2020)
Let’s be honest, just about EVERYONE only knows Cory Asbury as the guy who sings “Reckless Love” and going into this review, I didn’t expect much more than that. As someone who doesn’t really care for this previous mega-hit or much for his record company as a whole, I was hesitant to have an unbiased opinion going into this review. I will admit I did like “The Father’s House” when it hit radio stations as a new single, so I suppose there was a shred of hope that maybe this new album would have some winners on it for me. I was pleasantly surprised to discover things I liked about To Love a Fool that were completely different than “Reckless Love” guy.
Fair warning: this album is not for the weak of heart. To Love a Fool is packed with heavy and raw emotion about encountering God, biblical truths and the messiness sin. The lyrics are not sugarcoated paired with an upbeat poppy sound to make it seem like a happy-go-lucky kind of life; they are honest, and hard to hear sometimes. Of course there is the everlasting truths of God that are more positive and inspiring painted throughout as well, but there is plenty of real-life grit within these stories too.
The album kicks off with “Canyons,” a song describing how far and wide God’s love is for each and every one of us. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he opens the album with a positive message. He draws you in and makes you feel good because later in the album he’s going to lay down some difficult ugly truths that are hard to swallow. It is also one of the only upbeat songs on the album and includes a (in my humble opinion) super weird saxophone outro that feels 1000% out of place and doesn’t vibe with the rest of the song at all, but maybe saxophones are your thing and you’ll dig it more than I did.
Towards the middle of the album we encounter “Dear God,” an open dialogue between our messy prayers to the Lord and His loving and comforting responses. I’ve always been weary of this kind of layout because I often wondered if we should be crafting messages from God, but I found great comfort and peace listening to the response part of the song, even though it isn’t God directly speaking to me. Again with the random extra long weird outro of whoa’s, yeah’s, unnecessary verbiage, and guitar solo but the song at its core really resonated with me.
Near the end of the album is “Faithful Wounds” which I found to be one of the most impactful songs on the album. It’s a cry out to God with the reminder that these trials, tribulations and sufferings we encounter in this life are necessary for our growth and sanctification. It also is a reminder that Jesus endured the wounds of the cross to save me and you from our sins and offer us eternal life in the love of Christ.
Of course, the album closes with the radio hit “The Father’s House,” a more upbeat song that talks about what it’s like to be part of God’s kingdom. Again, I think this was a deliberate choice of placement within the album to kind of lift your spirits at the end and remind you that although life can be hard and things get messy, we’ve got God and we’re going to be welcomed in His house someday.
Throughout this album you will find stripped back, quieter and slower paced songs focused on the meaning of the lyrics rather than musical aspects. It seemed weird to me at first because I was waiting for something poppy and “happy.” I realized how choosing to do this helps you really hear the lyrics and understand the weight of their meaning and not just hear the music. With an album overflowing with some more sensitive topics, it seems like the right way to go. I’ve said it throughout this review but I want to say it again, I commend Cory Asbury for not shying away from the tougher and messier things we go experience, feel, think and do, as well as look at the not so pretty parts of ourselves too. I think that’s something we’re really lacking in the Christian scene (seriously, how many songs about water can we have?) so it was refreshing to hear something so raw, open and real dare I even say, convicting?