Bebo Norman [Ocean]
Posted September 21, 2010
Every two years, singer/songwriter Bebo Norman undergoes what he calls an extended therapy session. The intensive process isn’t always smooth sailing, but it does result in ten or twelve moments of completion—a clear look back through his own window at a story God is telling. Also known as making a new album, it’s an exercise in discovery that Bebo takes to remarkable depths on his seventh studio project, Ocean. As the writer and singer of some of my all-time favorite songs “The Hammer Holds,” “Great Light Of The World,” “Nothing Without You,” “I Will Lift My Eyes” and Dove Award winning “The Only Hope,” I eagerly anticipate each new album by Bebo Norman. After repeated listens, I’m convinced that Ocean is the best overall album by Bebo Norman in my opinion and is my top overall album of 2010.
Opening song “Everything I Hoped You’d Be” is poetic, folk-oriented rock full of natural imagery to describe a choppy spiritual journey from deserts to mountains, with Bebo realizing God “will be the water I drink forever / Let it wash me over, oh my soul.” “Here Goes,” co-written with longtime friend and fellow artist Brandon Heath, advocates a life marked by leaps into the unknown while reasoning, “I never loved anyone by playing it safe . . . never lost and never found are one and the same.” “God of My Everything,” is drawn from a combination of despairing stories involving “people as close to me as anyone on this planet who had to rebuild their lives based on their identity in God rather than their own.” By the time I finished listening to the first three amazing songs, I knew I was in for a treat. “The Hammer Holds” and “I Will Lift My Eyes” are my favorite songs by Bebo Norman and these opening songs are worshipful and introspective like those vintage songs. As if the opening songs aren’t impressive enough, Bebo really grabbed me with the next set of songs which are written to his wife. I get choked up when I listen to “Could You Ever Look at Me,” which is a compelling love song that admits his weakness “I don’t know how to chase away the fear I have inside me” before it catches a tidal wave of holy truth: “I hope you never look at me the way you’re looking at the ocean / Because in the sunrise I have seen I was never meant to be the light of your world.” The song “Ocean” also connects with the set’s other major recurring idea: juggling faith and fear. As Bebo dives deeper into the things of heaven, he sees that “You are the wonder of my world / And all my fear is turning into faith.”
“The ocean has always been a peaceful idea to my wife, so in a jealous man kind of way, I’ve wished she would look at me the way she looks at it,” he confesses. “But I’ve come to realize that’s based on my own fear and insecurity. When she looks at the ocean, she is looking at the wonder of our Creator, and that’s a much better foundation for her life than me.” The album closes as strong as it starts with the worshipful “I Hope You See Jesus,” which was co-written with Laura Story (“Indescribable”). The song is an extraordinarily eloquent musical presentation of the gospel. “Remember Us” lays out our fears and imperfect nature— “some days we don’t know how we will make it at all”—praying God will remain faithful despite ourselves. What’s so amazing about this album is that I feel like I know every song. What I’ve come to realize is that Bebo’s story is also my story and anyone struggling with the balance of life and faith can truly relate to the incredible messages of these songs. They only grow deeper with each listen which is my favorite type of album.
“Everything I Hoped You’d Be,” “Here Goes,” “God of My Everything,” “Could You Ever Look at Me” and “I Hope You See Jesus” are all stand-out songs and among my top 10 overall favorite songs by Bebo Norman. I can’t help but give this album a perfect score for message and music. Musically and lyrically this is literally a perfect album. Thanks so much Bebo for writing and singing some of the deepest and most meaningful songs I’ve ever heard. Pick up Ocean and you won't regret it. For me this is a 5 star album and my top overall album of 2010.
Rating: 10.0 out of 10 (100%, A+)
Review written by: Kevin Davis | Review can also be found here.
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