Written by: Abby Baracskai (September 29, 2017)
Before I dive in to this review, I have to ask, have you ever seen Jeremy Camp perform live? I remember staring, jaw to the floor, when I attended Winter Jam and he was on the lineup. I had known his songs from hearing them on the radio but had never really seen pictures of what he looked like. Nobody had warned me about the massive muscles called his arms. I’m not sure I even remember his performance because I can only remember thinking “holy cow, how are his arms not popping right now? And how often does he work out to get them that big?” Needless to say, I was a little distracted. I do remember that his vocals were great and sounded really similar to his album, which I really appreciate. With that being said, let’s get into this new music.
The album opens up with the current radio hit “Word of Life.” I think it’s a classic Christian contemporary radio hit and nothing too particularly special. The beat makes you want to move and the message is about inviting God into our lives. It’s a nice opening song that sets the tone and expectations of the rest of the album. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy listening to the song when it comes on the radio.
The album moves right along to “My Defender,” which opens with a moving guitar strum melody that helps guide the song, almost like a light breeze that gently moves along. Soft “oh, oh, oh’s” are throughout the song too that add a layer of texture to the overall composition of the song. The chorus is emphasized with louder music and stronger vocals that really drive home the message that God is on our side and He will take care of us no matter what comes our way.
Another song I want to point out is “Heaven’s Shore (Forevermore).” When I read the title, I rolled my eyes and thought, “here we go with another symbolic song about God and water.” I mean really, how many times can we talk about God’s love being like a storm and washing over us? Thankfully, I was presently surprised to find out that water wasn’t even mentioned. After losing my mom last year, I have fought my battles with death and what it all means and things like Heaven and eternity. This song talks about coming home to Jesus and how magical and spectacular that experience will be. My shoulders felt a little lighter after letting this song penetrate my thoughts and heart. I think a lot of artists very easily talk about all the great things about God because the Bible is full of that information, but not what happens in the afterlife. I applaud Jeremy Camp for taking a little bit of creative initiative to paint a picture of what eternity will look like with Jesus.
The album wraps up with “Awake O Sleeper,” a song you would imagine yourself hearing at a Crowder concert. It’s gritty and southern sounding with strong thumps and roaring vocals. It makes you feel amped up and ready to march on as a soldier of God as he declares, “stand with me and fight the war.” It’s a nice touch that adds a spice of different musical elements and vocal ranges compared to the rest of the album.
Overall, a lot of the album sounded like classic contemporary Christian music: simple song structure, songs about how great God is, consistent vocals and musical sounds, cliché Christian sayings, and, yes, many water references. There wasn’t anything that really “wow-ed” me. This is an album I would give to someone who wants to learn about God and what He does for us, with the exception of the song “Heaven’s Shore (Forevermore).” It wasn’t a bad album, in fact there were a lot of times I tapped my foot or bobbed my head, but there wasn’t much that made it stand out compared to other Christian contemporary artists and their music. I was craving something more raw and emotional. He’s been through a lot in his life and I would imagine those experiences could lead him to write some extremely impactful songs.