Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: More lyrics to encourage and challenge
Cons: None worth dwelling on
The Bottom Line:
These thoughtful lyrics
Encased in soft rock music
Make for winning disc
Encouragement, Challenge, Hope - Jason Gray Still Has It All
Over the last couple of years, Jason Gray has become one of my favorite artists. I don't think a month goes by without me pulling out one of his CD's for multiple days (possibly a week) in my car as the truths of the lyrics once again sink into my heart. So you can imagine how excited I was to get his new CD, Love Will Have the Final Word. It is exactly what I was expecting and hoping for.
The disc opens with a couple of lighter anthems. "Laugh Out Loud" just celebrates the joy we get when we stop to marvel at God saving us. It's got a fun beat to it and is sure to make you smile. Next up is "With Every Act of Love." While this song still has a fun beat to it, the message is more serious as we are reminded that God is showing His love to others through us. Definitely a challenging reminder.
Things slow down for the next song, "Not Right Now." Co-written with Josh Wilson, another of my current favorite artists, it is written from the point of view of someone going facing a trail so fresh that it hurts. The idea behind the song? Don't offer words of comfort, just pray, listen, and be there. While the words you speak might be true, if the wounds are too deep, they will still hurt worse than nothing. Later, we can discuss those truths.
Which brings us to the title track. "Love Will Have the Final Word" is a triumphant anthem that God's love and forgiveness are the ultimate measure in our lives. Yes, I did listen carefully after the controversy in the last couple of years with Rob Bell's book Love Win, but that's not what Jason is saying here. This song is written more from the point of view of someone who is living with the pain of a past they've confessed but won't forgive themselves over. And just look at these lyrics:
Of all the things I've ever heard
Let me remember when it hurts
That love wil have the final word
As long as God is on His throne
I am carried by the hope
That love will have the final word.
Put that together with a triumphant melody, and you've got a great song. The theme is carried over to the next song, "Love's Not Done with You."
"Begin Again" is a nice mid-tempo number that encourages us to turn to God and start again when faced with life's disappointments. I love how he manages to get a reference to a previous CD of his in the lyrics here. The line fits perfectly, but it also makes me smile.
Confession is a regular part of Jason's songs, and this time around we get "I Don't Know How." It lists all the things we are supposed to do, but Jason confesses he just doesn't know how to do them all. You know, things like walking by faith, leaving the past behind, loving his wife like Christ loved the church - that kind of stuff. Again, it's a fun, upbeat song that makes you want to sing along.
Slowing things down is "If You Want to Love Someone," a song about how to truly minister to those who need it.
"Even This Will Be Made Beautiful" was co-written with Nichole Nordeman (which gives me an opening to once again say I'd love some new music from her). It takes the promise of the title track from Romans 8:28 with a reminder that God will use everything for His glory.
"The Best Days of My Life" is written around the idea that "I won't fear my story's end because the author is my friend." Yes, through good and bad times, God is working to make them the best days. Another simple reminder that is just powerfully delivered.
Closing out the disc is "As I Am." No, this isn't a modern version of the hymn, but it is written around a similar idea, that God loves us and forgives us just as we are, even when we have run away from Him. It's a great way to close out the disc.
If I had one criticism, it's that the songs can begin to sound the same at a couple of points. There are lots of upbeat songs with a similar mix of instruments. There is just enough of a mix that it doesn’t blend together for me. Of course, the fact that I caught so many of these lyrics early on definitely helps.
And once again, Jason has delivered a disc filled with great lyrics and melodies that are fun to sing along to. I can already predict that Love Will Have the Final Word will get as much play time as his previous discs continue to get.
(And since my birthday is Saturday, I'm counting this as an early birthday present from Jason. Thanks so much! I love it!)
CD Length: 41:29
1. Laugh Out Loud
2. With Every Act of Love
3. Not Right Now
4. Love Will Have the Final Word
5. Love's Not Done with You
6. Begin Again
7. I Don't Know How
8. If You Want to Love Someone
9. Even This Will be Made Beautiful
10. The Best Days of My Life
11. As I Am