Monday, November 26, 2018

Music Review: Don't Look Back by Josh Wilson

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: 5 fun new songs backed with spiritual truths
Cons: It’s only 5 new songs!
The Bottom Line:
New EP release
Five enjoyable new songs
For fans old and new

Josh Wilson’s Back with a Great EP

I don't buy as much new music as I used to, but there are still a few artists whose new releases I look forward to.  Josh Wilson is definitely one of them.  His honest lyrics have a way of making familiar truths relatable and fresh.  It's been a few years since his last new release came out, but when I saw he was releasing an EP this year, I was thrilled.  Don't Look Back is as good as I had hoped it would be.

I will admit, it took me a couple of listens to fully appreciate this new release.  And part of the problem was the first track.  "Self Less" reminds us that following the two greatest commands “Ain’t about thinking less of myself, it’s thinking about myself less."  As the bridge says, "Love God, love people/It’s so hard and so simple."  Okay, so the lyrics are convicting, but my issue is more the style.  Josh almost chants the chorus, and it’s definitely a stretch from his usual soft rock style.  But the more I’ve listened to it, the more I’ve enjoyed it.

Stylistically, the next track is very similar, but I liked this one right away.  "Borrow (One Day at a Time)" comes straight from the Sermon on the Mount, reminding us that we aren't supposed to worry about tomorrow, instead focus on today.  Considering I am always worrying about things I will need to be doing in the future, it’s a reminder I need to hear.  I really appreciate Josh's honesty here since he makes it clear this is something he struggles with as well.

Things slow down for "OK," which is a more classic Josh Wilson song both stylistically and lyrically.  Josh has written songs before about leaving the past behind, including our guilt and shame over our confessed sin.  That's what the first verse of this song focuses on here.  The second verse expands it to anyone struggling with life.  This song is a clear and powerful reminder that Jesus came for us as we are, so "It's okay not to be okay."

I don't have a good Christian music radio station to listen to (probably one reason I don't get as much new music as I used to), so I hadn't heard "Dream Small" yet.  This song was actually released months ago to radio, but I fell in love with it right away.  It is a song about the little things in life that are truly important for eternity, things like spending time with your kids or visiting widows.  Josh makes it clear he isn’t saying we can’t dream big, just don’t miss the small things God wants us to do daily.  As he points out, "With His great love, a tiny rock can make a giant fall" and "The God who does all things makes oceans from rivers."  This is an important perspective to have in life.  Plus, it's a catchy song that is fun to sing along with.

The EP wraps up with the title track.  "Don't Look Back" is again about God's forgiveness and our need to leave what has happened to us in the past and move forward secure in God's grace and mercy.  Yes, it is echoing themes of "OK," but I need to be reminded of this simple truth quite a lot myself, so I welcome it here.

As I said, it took me a couple of listens to fully appreciate this disc, but that has proved to be a thing of the past.  (And I'm not going to look back.)  These are five fun songs packed with spiritual truth.

And yes, that is still my biggest complaint.  I wish this were a full release, although it is priced accordingly, so I really can't complain.  I'm just greedy.  I want more music.

If you are a fan of Josh Wilson's music already, you'll love Don't Look Back.  And if you haven't found this artist yet, now's the time to jump in.  You'll soon be looking back to get the rest of his music and then joining me looking forward to what he releases next.

CD Length: 17:49
1. Self Less
2. Borrow (One Day at a Time)
3. OK
4. Dream Small
5. Don't Look Back

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