Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Music Review: No Turning Back by Brandon Heath

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great tracks reflecting on life live then and now
Cons: Weak choruses on a couple of songs (but I do still love the songs)
The Bottom Line:
Fun musical style
Combine with some great lyrics
Make this a must buy

Reflections Back While Looking Forward

2015 marks a milestone for Brandon Heath.  It was 20 years ago, in 1995, that Brandon Heath gave his life to Jesus while attending a summer camp.  While No Turning Back is not all about that summer, it absolutely influences several of the songs on this disc.  The result is a great CD that his longtime fans will love.

The disc starts off strongly with “One Way to Heaven.”  Brandon’s folk/rock style is in fine form here as he sings:
Ain’t no doorway
Or a stairway
Ain’t no your way
Ain’t no my way
Ain’t no shortcut
Or a highway to Heaven.

I also love the title track.  Anyone who grew up in the church will absolutely recognize the theme of the lyrics to “No Turning Back.”  Yes, it borrows heavily from the Sunday School song “I Have Decided,” but the additions to it are strong and fun.  It’s a great song of commitment.  He’s joined by the group All Sons & Daughters, and the resulting song tips more toward his country side of things, but the beat is strong and it’s just plain fun.

Unfortunately, a couple of the songs tilt toward the Jesus is my girlfriend style of song writing.  You know the songs – talking about love and really the chorus feels like it could be any love song.  “Only Just Met You” is definitely one of them, but “When You Look at Me” suffers the same fate, especially since it comes after “Girl of My Dreams.”  If you listen carefully to both songs, especially the verses, there really is some good meat to the songs, so don’t write them off.  But those choruses.  And I do say unfortunately because I actually do like both of those songs.

Not all the songs are about the summer Brandon gave his life to Jesus.  A perfect example is the songs I just mentioned – “Girl of My Dreams.”  It’s a love song about how he met and married his wife.  Brandon’s guitar is strong on this one the entire way through, and some of those lines definitely make me smile.  It’s a great song.

“Everything Must Go” is about simplifying life.  It really does make you stop and think about all the things we collect.  I also love the fact that the music on this one is extremely simple, mostly one guitar with eventually piano and drums when he hits the first chorus after the minute mark.

Then there’s “When I Was Young,” where Brandon sings about how fearless we are to do and try anything before we start worrying about how others view us.  Even more, he brings it home to our “grown up” faith in God.  It reminds me of Jesus talking about having the faith of a child.  This song has a bit of an unusual melody to it, but that just makes you listen to it more.  I love it.

Honestly, I’m hard pressed to find a song I don’t like here.  Yes, I really do like those two I mentioned earlier.  Brandon continues to take some risks musically that really pay off.  This disc is unlike anything you have in your collection, and that’s a good thing.  It’s fun to listen to with great lyrics to think about.

So if you haven’t discovered Brandon’s music yet, No Turning Back is a great place to start.  And Brandon’s established fan base will love his strongest release yet.

CD Length: 40:44
1. One Way to Heaven
2. Only Just Met You
3. No Turning Back (Featuring All Sons and Daughters)
4. S.O.S.
5. When I Was Young
6. All I Need
7. Girl of My Dreams
8. When You Look at Me
9. Everything Must Go
10. Behold Our God
11. Sing Brave

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