Thursday, May 23, 2013

Music Review: The Generous Mr. Lovewell by MercyMe

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun songs with a call to radical love
Cons: Songs can almost run together
The Bottom Line:
A call to love well
Full of fun pop/rock music
Challenging lyrics

MercyMe Calls Us to a Radical Love in the Name of Jesus

MercyMe is back with The Generous Mr. Lovewell, their sixth studio release, and it's sure to please fans.  It's definitely on the rockier side of their releases, but its fun with so many great messages.

The biggest message of this disc is love.  It weaves its way through several of the songs, both explicitly and implicitly.  Quite obviously, the title track really emphasizes this theme.  "The Generous Mr. Lovewell" actually reminds us that love isn't about the big things we do for others.  The second verse talks about how just a kind word can brighten someone's day.  Of course, it does also talk about bigger offers of help.  And I like the reminder to always be on the lookout for ways to help.  It's an upbeat song and has the catchiest melody on the disc.  No matter what song I stop listen to the disc with, I always find myself humming this particular song.

"Crazy Enough" also picks up on this theme.  It looks at the idea of truly loving our "brother for nothing in return" and how it might impact the world.  This song is definitely a pop anthem, but it uses a minor key to really stand out from the rest of the disc.

"Won't You Be My Love" is written from Jesus' point of view and reminds us that we are called to love others in His name.  While never directly quoting Matthew, it borrows heavily from the passage about "Loving the least of these in My name."  This guitar heavy ballad incorporates strings for a nice, quieter moment.

As they often will, MercyMe closes the disc with a very short song.  In fact, the minute and a half "This So Called Love" feels like a first verse looking to be expanded.  But as a Coda to the rest of the disc, it works very well.  It's actually a sobering reminder that no matter what we do and how we help others, without Jesus, it means nothing.  It's a slow song with some haunting sounds.

The theme of radical love (which is what this call really boils down to) influences some of the other tracks as well.  For example, the disc opener, "This Life" is a call to get out of our comfort zone and see what God would do with us there.  And if love doesn't do that for you, I don't know what will.  The song uses heavy electric instruments and a touch of vocal distortion to really help drive the point home.  Plus it's just plain fun to listen to.  I can't help but nod my head or tap my toe along with this upbeat number.

You could even argue "Beautiful" fits in with the theme.  It's an upbeat ballad written to those who don't think they are worth anything.  No, it's not terribly original, but at times you just need the simple reminders to get through a trial.

Speaking of trials, MercyMe tackles that favorite subject in "Move."  I'd argue this is the rockiest song on the disc as they rely on God's promise to see us through the bad times to the brighter days.  I dare you to listen to this song without getting a smile and tapping your toes.

There are a couple songs of pure praise as well on the disc.  "All of Creation" finds us back in the ballad territory the band has always done so well.  Keyboard is the dominate instrument here as they lead all creation in praise for God redeeming us from the sin that separates us from Him.

"Only You Remain" actually sounds like a modern praise song we could hear in church soon.  Again, we're on the slow side of things with the full band playing here.  There isn't anything super original about the lyrics, but the way it praises God for who He is makes it a great track.

The disc does come a bit close to all the songs sounding the same at times.  The music is either guitar or keyboard driven and the differences between songs are more subtle when you listen to the disc in order.  But after a few listens, things really do begin to stand out, mainly because of the great lyrics.

MercyMe really burst onto the Christian music scene, and they don't show any signs of slowing down.  The Generous Mr. Lovewell is another strong disc that will help keep them in the spotlight for many years to come.

CD Length: 43:07
1. This Life
2. The Generous Mr. Lovewell
3. Move
4. Crazy Enough
5. All of Creation
6. Beautiful
7. Back to You
8. Only You Remain
9. Free
10. Won't You Be My Love
11. This So Called Love

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