|With Praise and Worship | Posted September 05, 2012
Jared Anderson is no stranger to the music scene. Having gotten his start as a member of Desperation Band, a worship movement birthed out of Colorado's New Life Church, Jared has had a hand in penning some of the Church's most notorious worship anthems, including "Glorious", "Amazed", and "Great I Am." An amazing achievement for someone who admits he almost walked away from worship music altogether.
"I grew up playing the piano in church, but by the time I was in college, my music was going in a different direction", he says. Still, his pull towards writing music for the church was unavoidable. "God [slowly] revealed to me that worship isn't just a genre of music. Worship songs are prayers. We're reciting the word of God back to Him, and pretty soon we're not just reciting it or singing it, we're living it."
Coming as his first solo project in almost three years, The Narrow Road was inspired by a notion John Bunyan coined in his historical work, Pilgrims Progress.
"[The book] tells the stories of trials and how they shouldn't define us", Jared explains, "Instead, they prepare us for the destination. Walking ‘the narrow road' isn't an option for followers of Jesus… it's a necessity."
"Bless The Lord" starts the project on a bright note, saying how we should bless God whether times or good or bad. "Impossible Possible" follows along the same lines and pulls it's lyrics directly from scripture, making it a highly uplifting tune of encouragement and praise.
CCM fans will recognize "The King Is Coming" almost instantly, seeing as Anderson and producer Seth Mosley originally penned the song for Newsboys God's Not Dead project. His version doesn't differ much, but offers more of his own unique spin on what's fast becoming a beloved battle-cry.
Yet another tune Anderson is most noted for writing, "Great I Am" makes an appearance on this album and serves as the best recorded version of the song to date. Personally, it's one of my favorite worship songs and I was thrilled with it's inclusion, it being the most lyrically passionate song on the record: "I wanna be near, near to Your heart / Loving the world and hating the dark / I wanna see dry bones living again, singing as one."
"According To His Word" and "Behold Your God" both take a melodically low-key approach while keeping the lyrics scriptural and enriching. "Pouring It Out For You" is yet another tune Newsboys recorded on their aforementioned worship project, already making it familiar among listeners. This is also one of my personal favorites and was excited to hear Jared Anderson's version—it doesn't disappoint.
Simplistic and beautiful, "Call On The Name Of The Lord" sounds like a song that would be played during an alter call, while "When The King Comes" can almost be seen as a follow-up to "The King Is Coming."
"Narrow Road" serves as the most musically original track, while lyrically, it's taken straight from Matthew 7:13, becoming a passionate declaration of immovable faith in Jesus.
"35 Lines" is a departure from the rest of the album and is a song I can hear being covered by a major artist within the next few years. It's a challenge to the church to go out and reach the lost and the hurting, looking to a system that will never fulfill them the way Christ will: "They can't be reached by themselves / Economics can't help the good news of the kingdom / Sons and daughters in love, don't be silent / You must make disciples and preach the good news of the kingdom."
After taking a mellow approach through the belly of the album, the last two tracks greet us with a more upbeat tempo in the edifying "Go Ye", and familiar anthem, "I Am Free", which features an appearance by the song's writer and fellow New Life worship leader, Jon Eagan. These two higher energy tunes are a great way to close the project.
Closing Thoughts:Jared Anderson is fast becoming one of the "go-to" worship songwriters in our industry, and it is easy to see why. Pulling 90% of his lyrics directly from scripture, it's almost impossible to walk away from one of his songs not feeling more intimately connected to God. While you'd think that concept would be a no-brainer, it's a refreshing change to hear the Word of God set against the backdrop of song, seeing as so few worship artists take that approach anymore.
While the production aspect on The Narrow Road is minimal at best, it allows the stirring lyrics to shine and usher the listener into the presence of God in a meaningful way. This is a powerful project and goes down as one of my favorite praise and worship albums of the year.
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