Written by: Amanda DeWilde (6/23/14)
“So many times we live in the pain of yesterday. The ‘why’ and the questions. And that’s what inspired me … I felt like God had given me a story and given me the steps to get through.” ~ Danny Gokey, 700 Club interview I must admit, I’ve never been much of a talent show follower. Hand me a remote and I’ll surf past Dancing With the Stars in favor of reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. But every now and then a new artist flutters onto the music scene, instantly steals my breath and earns my fandom. And then I learn that American Idol advocates have rooted for this person for years. In those moments my jaw drops and I think, “What have I been missing?!”
Enter one such artist, a finalist from season 8 of American Idol – Danny Gokey. He has the kind of high, rich voice and genuine, heartfelt lyrics that brings the work of Phil Collins to mind. (And Caleb Grimm from Anthem Lights. I’m rooting for a mash-up between these guys…) Only four weeks after losing his wife to heart surgery complications, Danny wowed the judges and audience of American Idol, proving to everyone who heard that both his voice and his faith were something truly unique. Inspired by a dauntless love for God and a promise to his wife, Danny went on to place third on the show. And now, years later, Danny draws from those experiences, his pain and the journey of healing God has drawn him through. The result is Hope in Front of Me.
The album’s title track is a call to see God’s supporting hand, the hope that He offers, even when we can’t see the way out of a dark place. Many people think of God as a harsh judge, waiting for us to mess up so He can administer punishment. “More Than You Think I Am” is a peek inside the heart of the true God, a heart that loves us and pursues us into the deepest pits that we dig to hide from Him. “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” is about realizing that your life, though shattered, can be rebuilt after the death of a loved one. Your heart may feel like it has stopped, but you must convince it otherwise. This song is about moving forward, believing that there is hope for the future. “Let the shadows fall away, step into the light of grace. Yesterday’s a closing door. You don’t live there anymore. Say goodbye to where you’ve been. And tell your heart to beat again. …Let every heartbreak and every scar be a picture that reminds you Who has carried you this far.” And what is more hopeful than romance?
This album contains several fun love songs including the funky “Better Than Gold” and the sweet “Because of You”. “One Life” speaks of the unpredictability of life. That tomorrow isn’t promised. We may only have one chance to live with the utmost meaning, and that chance comes right now. “It’s Not Over” is a bit soulful, ending the album with the encouragement to get up and push through painful times.
True to its name, Hope in Front of Me has a beautifully optimistic tone throughout. Anybody who’s seen Gokey on Idol or in interviews can testify to the fact that he has a contagious grin and a joy that few understand. His unbreakable spirit and faith in a God Who has our ultimate good in mind dominates his life and saturates his music. The best characteristic about Danny Gokey? He may have been called an ‘idol’, but everything about him points to the One true God. This album is proof.