Kevin Davis: "Joe Shirk’s stellar saxophone playing--a real treat for me, personally."
This was the first time I’d attended the Witness Festival in Quarryville, Penn., and my wife and three daughters were really excited to see the afternoon acts, starting with Reilly, Jamie-Grace and The City Harmonic. We had a beautiful afternoon enjoying the uplifting and worshipful music, and I had the great opportunity to interview Jamie for an upcoming “behind the song” devotional before her energetic set.
Jamie treated us by singing her stand-out tracks “One Song At A Time”, “With You”, “Come To Me”, “Show Jesus”, “You Lead” and “Hold Me.” She also performed great covers of “Into Jesus” by dcTalk and “Free To Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli. The City Harmonic really got the crowd going with great performances of their worshipful anthems “I Have A Dream”, “Fell Apart”, “Spark”, “Yours”, “Mountaintop” and “Manifesto.”
Next up was Big Daddy Weave. Love Come To Life is the first new album by Big Daddy Weave in over three years. Their last album What Life Would Be Like was one of my top ten albums of 2008, featuring the hit title track and “You Found Me.” I’ve been anxiously awaiting the follow-up which features the number one hit title track and current hit single “Redeemed.”
"We've faced a lot of personal challenges and adversity during the past couple of years," says Mike. "Coming to the other side of that leaves us with fresh things to share, and in a place where we can share even more deeply than ever before."
Those challenges--from the fatigue faced at times by musicians who spend much of their time on the road, to a devastating fire that swept through guitarist/producer Jeremy Redmon's house and studio, and health issues faced by some band members--produced a record that reflects two sides of the Christian life. That meeting of life and music has been part and parcel of Big Daddy Weave's appeal since their early days. Formed at the University of Mobile, the quintet--Mike, his brother Jay (who plays bass), Jeremy, Jeff, and keyboardist/saxophonist Joe Shirk--released an independent album in 2001 and then landed a deal with Fervent Records, their label home ever since.
One of the best first songs on any album this year is the epic opening track “Jesus Move,” which employs a Brit-rock style. This also was how the band opened their incredible set. The song opens with a U2-like musical build up to the catchy and prayerful opening lyrics: “let the power of God fall down on us, let Your power fall down right now… let the Sprit of God pour out on us, let Your Spirit pour right now, For Your Glory, and You only, what You say is what we do, let Your passion become action, Holy Spirit come and move, cause Jesus we’re alive to glorify Your Name, so let Your Spirit rise among us now as we sing… Jesus Move!” No matter your musical preference if you love Jesus, I guarantee you’ll love this song.
This band had me at “Audience of One” from their major label debut One & Only more than a decade ago. Just like the debut album by Kutless, Big Daddy Weave’s sincere gospel messages and contemporary sound really hooked me as I had previously collected only secular music. After I was saved in 1999, I was excited to find great musical alternatives to the popular mainstream grunge and alternative rock bands from that time. I played saxophone all through grade school and college, so this band’s Southern rock sound including a rocking saxophone part is something I’ve always enjoyed and reminds me of the bands I grew up with--Foreigner and Dave Matthews Band and current modern rock act O.A.R. They pulled out all of the stops with their next songs, “Fields of Grace” and “Neighborhoods,” which both featured Joe Shirk’s stellar saxophone playing--a real treat for me, personally.
“You Found Me” was next, and is a great introspective calling out to God in prayer, ending with an excellent guitar solo by Jeremy Redmon. I was hooked immediately by both the music and the amazing description of what it feels like to have an encounter with God. Having been heavily influenced by Jars of Clay and Christian music in leading me to seek a personal relationship with Jesus, this song is also my story relative to the tingle I felt the first time I truly had an encounter with God. My salvation experience was very similar. I was in my car listening to a Christian music album and at the end of the album the artist shared his personal testimony, which was also my story. I finally admitted to myself and God that I am a sinner and I can’t save myself. I pulled to the side of the road and just sobbed as I was invited to join in saying the sinner's prayer. I confessed my sins, begged for forgiveness and I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. I felt the presence of God there with me in my car and I’ve never been the same. Like Mike sings in the song, "My whole life has changed ever since the day You came, the way I see, the things I want, I don’t care what people say, I knew You were the only way." What a great message!
If you like Southern rock like Third Day and NEEDTOBREATHE, you'll enjoy this band. They mingle excellent musicianship and vocals with incredible lyrics that are biblical and challenging. They mixed in another new song, “The Only Name (Yours Will Be),” which Mike called a “la la song” and was another song sung directly to God. “Every Time I Breathe” and “What Life Would Be Like” are both anthems of faith for the Church and challenges to all believers to rely on Jesus for their every breath and wonder what life would be like if we let Jesus live through you and me. “Redeemed” was next and is a personal testimony to the power of redemption--which I interviewed Mike about for an upcoming “behind the song” devotional. The song has quickly become one of my daily devotional prayers of thankfulness to God for showing me grace and forgiveness in spite of my failures. We serve a loving and merciful God who accepts us as we are, not who we pretend to be.
They closed with their No. 1 hit song, “Love Come To Life.” If you like that song, get this new album immediately as the album has a cohesive theme based on the lyrics of that super-catchy song: “Bring Your love to life inside of me, a generation that you’re calling out, living everything that we sing about.” Amen! Asbury’s Bible commentary says, "In a word, the pursuit of love succinctly describes the Christian way of life." We are commanded to love others by Jesus. This song challenges me to think about how well I am showing love to others. 1 John 4:19 says "We love because He first loved us." That's what hit title track "Love Come To Life" is all about.
This new album demonstrates once again the passion and energy that have made Big Daddy Weave one of Christian music’s most compelling acts for nearly a dozen years. This band can really write a hooky and Truth-filled chorus as evidenced by every song they performed at the Festival. After repeated listens, the sincere and poignant lyrics, musical excellence and Mike Weaver’s compelling vocals makes Love Come To Life my new top album by this great band surpassing all of their previous excellent albums.
Posted July 03, 2012 | NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.