Monday, August 3, 2015

Music Review: That was Then, This is Now by Josh Wilson

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Amazing lyrics wrapped in wonderful music
Cons: “The Songs I Need to Hear” is weak, but it’s a small weakness
The Bottom Line:
Josh outdoes himself
Biblical truth, great lyrics
And fun melodies

Josh Wilson’s Newest CD is a Must Buy

I was fortunate enough to find Josh Wilson when he was first starting out.  I fell in love with that debut, and I’m been anxiously awaiting each of his releases ever since.  Naturally, that meant I was there on release day getting That Was Then, This Is Now.  I’ve enjoyed seeing his growth through those releases, and this is easily his best release to date.

The title single has been on Christian radio for a couple months now, and I was fortunate enough to get to hear it when I was in Atlanta on business about six weeks ago.  (Don’t get me started on how I can’t find a Christian music station in my part of Southern California).  I fell in love with it the first time I heard it.  It opens the disc here, and it is just amazing.  “That was Then, This is Now” is about the new life we have in Jesus the instant we repent of our sins.  While there is some amazing theological truths in the entire thing, I love how he works I John 1:9 into the bridge.
If we turn and confess every unrighteousness
He is faithful and just to forgive.

And this is the perfect song to start out the disc because it is an upbeat anthem.  Seriously, I challenge you to sit and listen to it without moving.  It’s infectious and makes you just want to smile and sing along.  And considering what we are singing about, that’s a good thing.

Once you’ve stop repeating that first track 10 or 15 times (trust me on that), you’ll find the rest of the disc is just as good.

The theme of God’s amazing forgiveness is continued in “No More.”  A mid-tempo track, it marvels at the fact that we are condemned no more.  The imagery of a prison cell is great, and the soaring chorus lifts my heart in praise.

Another theme in the disc is our response to God’s mercy – going out and living for Him.  This is first brought up in “This is the Day,” an upbeat song that commits to living fully for God starting today.  He goes back to the topic in “Say Yes.”  This time around, it’s a commitment to trusting God one step at a time and saying yes to wherever He leads even if it isn’t our plan.

Along the way, we also get “Blown Away,” which looks at the way we live life and instead asks God to blow us away with not only the beautiful world He created for us to enjoy, but also His grace.  This is another fun, upbeat song and will have your toes tapping before you know it.

Honestly, about the only song that doesn’t quite work for me is “The Songs I Need to Hear.”  To me, it feels like it is unfinished.  I must say, it is growing on me.  It’s not a bad song, but it is the weakest on the disc.

There are two staples of Josh Wilson releases.  Yes, we get another new instrumental version of a classic hymn.  This time around, it is “Ode to Joy,” and, as always, the arrangement is amazing.  It’s electric guitar and keyboard and a bunch of other, most of which Josh played.  Josh is amazingly talented.  You might want to check the credits on this one to see a fun cameo.

(The other staple of a Josh Wilson release?  Be sure to read all of the “Thank You” section very carefully.  That’s all I’m saying.)

The disc closes out with four more amazing tracks.  “House Divided” is a solid rocker that expresses the conflict between the old sinful man and the heart that Jesus has given us so perfectly.  Think Paul in Romans 6.  You’ve got to pay attention to these lyrics because they really are amazing.

Things really do slow down for the last three songs.  Up first is “Don’t Let Go,” a plea to God to hold on to us during the trials and times when we start questioning our faith.  Josh has written some amazing songs of brokenness in the past, but this song is the most honest yet.

We’re back to the theme of grace for “Coming Home.”  While this doesn’t specifically reference The Prodigal Son, it is written from the point of view of someone who has repeatedly turned their back on God but is now returning to Him.  I love songs with this theme, and this is another winner.  Again, the lyrics are powerfully honest.

We close out the disc reflecting once again on “Grace Upon Grace.”  He does speed things up for this final disc, but it’s still mid-tempo.  This is a pure song of praise for the grace God continues to give us.

The lyrics in this disc really are amazing.  Josh has always been gifted with crafting great lyrics, but he is in top form here.  The imagery he manages to evoke make these familiar truths new again.  The music is wonderful and compliments the lyrics perfectly.

I pull out all of Josh’s discs on a regular basis, but I don’t see That Was Then, This Is Now leaving my CD player in the next few weeks.  Every time I listen to it, I like it better.  If you haven’t bought this disc yet, drop everything and do so now.  You will not be sorry.

CD Length: 39:47
1. That was Then, This is Now
2. This is the Day
3. No More
4. The Songs I Need to Hear
5. Blown Away
6. Ode to Joy (Instrumental)
7. Say Yes
8. House Divided
9. Don’t Let Go
10. Coming Home
11. Grace Upon Grace


  1. I love "That was Then, This is Now". It sounds like I need to check out the rest of the CD.

    1. Yes, you definitely need to check out the rest of the CD.