|Encouraging and Energizing | Posted October 03, 2011
Four years after Hello & Goodbye, the final studio project from pop sensations Jump5, its youngest member, Brittany Hargest, is jumping back into the spotlight with her release, Love All The Way. Don't underestimate this girl. While she clearly still knows how to have fun, she's not a newcomer, and no longer a kid. At 23, Brittany is a seasoned industry veteran and her confidence and command behind the microphone is evident. She was behind the wheel on this project, having provided writing contributions to most of the songs. Brittany's back, and Love All The Way is sure to be a hit with listeners of all ages.
The album begins with the high-octane "Critical" which talks about the need for action-driven faith to save a world in crisis. Brittany warns, "Too many doing 95 down a dead-end road. We gotta do something quick! It's getting critical." As we witness the depravity of the world, we can't sit back and do nothing. She implores listeners to be part of the solution and calls them to prayer and bold action: "We see too much to act so blind." The song's message is supported by punchy music with heavy beats, chunky guitars that sound like sirens, and an unrelentingly fast pace that perfectly illustrates the urgent need for God in today's world.
At the personal level, "Critical" can also be interpreted as emphasizing the need for a personal faith decision. "It's life and death," she sings. "It is that serious." This song is a good opener for the album, showing the world's need for Jesus. And much of the rest of the record will show us what Jesus' love can do.
The first single, "Love All the Way," focuses on God's unchanging, constant, all-powerful love. Brittany sings, "I gotta tell you a secret that you already know. I'm not that easy to love, and I grow too slow. I've built so many walls around this heart...." We all feel like that at times: frustrated, ashamed, defensive, and broken. But God breaks through all our barriers and self-imposed limitations to change our lives. Brittany compares the unstoppable, untameable power of God's love to a heart grenade and a hurricane. And while we may have been heartbroken by worldly love, God will not let us down. His "love is different than the rest of the world. At my best I don't deserve a love like this. But I know that's not your concern and you just won't quit."
The next song, "Slow Motion," moves in anything but slow motion. This driving, beat-laden track encourages the tired and weary not to lose hope: "If you know your heart is broken, that's the moment that it's open. Even in slow motion, you've gotta keep going. Just keep on, keep on going. In slow, in slow motion...." This song definitely belongs on everyone's running playlist! Brittany's vocals are strong and confident, and the track is irresistibly infectious and adrenaline inducing. This song is sure to be a hit with the younger crowd! It carries an energy similar to tobyMac, and should succeed even on mainstream outlets like Radio Disney.
"Miracle" beautifully demonstrates the difference between what we see when we look at ourselves and what God sees when He looks at us. While we get caught up in our weaknesses and our flaws, God sees our potential: "You see a miracle. You see something beautiful when you look at me. See what I could be." God's love changes us and affects our perspective and the way we perceive the world. That's definitely a miracle worth celebrating!
Standout track "You Met Me" is the most stripped-down on the record. The more straightforward musical delivery of the song showcases Brittany's voice and its power to deliver an important lyrical message: the faithful pursuit of God's merciful love. Jesus' love meets us where we are and takes us as we are: "You met me. Right then and there. When and where I needed love but did not deserve to be loved." The song reminds us that we cannot fix ourselves -- we need a Savior. But it also points out that, thanks to God's mercy, we have no need for shame. Grace transforms us and gives us a new start. At the songs' end, the lyric is cleverly flipped. Brittany's life is changed, she sings in praise to God, "all because I met you."
The pace picks back up with "I Believe in You," a worship song set to a funky dance groove. It's a great pick-me-upper after a long day, and fans of Jump5 will feel right at home here. Like several of the songs on the record, it testifies to the constancy of God's love.
Musically, the easy, familiar sound of "I Believe in You" serves as a good lead-in to one of the most head-turning, aggressive songs on the record -- and probably my favorite -- "He Can." The song urges the disheartened soul to "keep believing 'cause God can." While our imperfect nature causes us to slip and fall, we shouldn't give up because nothing is too difficult for God. The sound is very current and in-your-face, with a chorus that's delivered in a passionate and energetic manner reminiscent of Rebecca St. James' revolutionary anthem, God. Brittany shouts, "When you can't, He can! When you fall, He stands! For the weak, for the hurt, for the broken man. When it's way too much and you can't, He can!"
The next two songs keep the energy level at a peak. In "Like a Fire," Brittany continues her bold declarations. She sings about her search for a spark, and how she found it by jumping into God. She likens her faith to a fire, one that she doesn't want to put out. She wants to keep her fervent faith and share it with others: "I just can't tame it 'cause it's out of control. And I won't contain it, gonna let it roll. So fan the flame and ignite my soul. It's like -- like a fire."
This musical fire stays ablaze with the next charismatic tune, "Bring the Party." Brittany points out that Christians know how to have a good time, and she reminds us that God's promise of eternity gives us plenty of reason to express our joy now: "Don't understand why we're waiting for Heaven to celebrate....We can bring the party on down." And she convincingly delivers a party with this track!
The album ends with another of my favorite songs. "Put It All Together" might just be the bounciest, catchiest, most lovable pop confection I've heard all year. I'd put it up there with the best of Francesca Battistelli's melodic gems. And Brittany delivers the lyrics perfectly. She relates how Jesus takes all the little pieces of our broken selves and puts them together to make something beautiful.
The chorus elucidates the redeeming power of God's love to transform and improve our lives: "You can take a broken heart and a brand new start that seem so far. But you put it all together now." She uses words like unfixable, unlovable, unreliable, unreachable, unchangeable, unteachable, uncomfortable, and unforgivable to vocalize her self-criticism. But the song serves as a reminder that, even though we think of ourselves as lost causes, Jesus never gives up on us. He heals and transforms. The bridge sings to God: "You take the pieces that nobody wants and You hold them. You mold them. You go for all the impossible people like me." Amen! I could sing along to this tune all day!
Brittany Hargest's Love All The Way is full of energy, hope, and heart. My first listen to the record came at the end of a stressful day that was part of a long stretch of difficult days. But this record was just the balm I needed. I came away from it restored, energized, and emboldened. This is the mission and call of Christian music: to encourage, to bring hope, to spread the good news of God's love. Brittany can consider her mission accomplished! The only downside to the record is its brevity – the 10 tracks clock in at just under 33 minutes. However, this album succeeds in showcasing both a talented artist and a merciful, loving, unwavering God. Brittany Hargest doesn't miss a step. She's right on beat with this debut solo project.
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