Jessa Anderson [Not Myself Anymore] | Posted September 04, 2011 Staff Reviewer
Not Myself Anymore by Jessa Anderson is truly the CCM album and artist I’ve been waiting for as a major fan of mainstream pop song singer-songwriters like Kate Voegele, Taylor Swift and Colbie Caillat. Over the years, many secular and even now some Christian singers have decided to go the dance pop song route of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, which tends to be over-produced, vocally tuned, and the lyrics are rarely vulnerable or relatable. Last year I was thrilled to savor the debut album by GMA Dove Award nominee Audrey Assad, and if you like her style and album then you need to get this album immediately.
This album starts with two very catchy pop-style surefire hit songs, “Not What I Thought” and “Fireflies.” Although at first these seem to be fun pop songs, wait until you really savor the lyrics and Jessa’s emotional vocals, and then the weight of the songs will hit you, which are my favorite types of albums. In “Not What I Thought,” Jessa weaves her story into a hooky song and confesses, “I have learned to use this love as a weapon, I am caught up by the common as usual, I have nearly followed ‘til my Spirit was numb, I continue the ascent of never ending, collecting all but things that matter the most.” Those are some of the strongest and most honest lyrics I’ve heard this year, all in a song that reminds me musically of hit songs “99 Times” by Kate Voegele and “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift however rather than singing about being jilted by a boyfriend, Jessa is confessing directly to God. “Fireflies” is a hit song in any format, and has great biblical truth and has profound lyrics in the second verse professing God’s brilliance, “Everything around me, Reflects Your light, You shine brighter than fireflies, I'm surrounded by Your brilliant glow, And I marvel in wonder at the sight I behold, I am running with an empty jar, Want to capture it all, I'm chasing after Your heart.” Those two songs alone are worth the price of the album, but don’t miss the remaining songs which take an emotional turn as they are all confessional and moving songs that make me hang on every word that Jessa sings, similar to Fireflies and Songs by Sara Groves.
Rather than address the themes of each song, if you like “gourmet” music with heart-wrenching lyrics like JJ Heller and Sara Groves, this album is for you. Some of the stand-out moments of the album include “Everybody Has Those Days,” a deceptively upbeat song that once again hits me where I am emotionally when Jessa confesses, “No one ever accused me of being the best, And no one really understands what's going on in my head, I'm feeling alone and I’m feeling like sort of a mess, Can't make sense of anything, And so I’m telling myself over and over again, Everybody has those days.” The song that stops me in my tracks is the title track, “Not Myself Anymore.” The song has a bluesy Brit-pop piano style emotional vocal like Adele’s hit song “Someone Like You,” and it’s also a break-up song. However redemption is found in last line,“So why can't we just be friends, When that's all we were before?” What’s so relatable is how Jessa’s “relationship” songs are relevant for everyone. If you know Jesus, then you especially know the ultimate answer to the quest for love can only be found in Him which is Jessa’s conclusion in every song. Another song that captivates me is “I Won’t Break.” Musically, it actually has a Brit Rock guitar riff, and it moves me like “Fix You” by Coldplay. There are also worshipful moments throughout the album, “Worship The Lamb,” “Offering” and stunning closing song “Return.”
Everything that works for me about The House You’re Building by Audrey Assad is in full effect for me on this album, one of the best of the year. Jessa has a vocal sincerity and creativity that rivals Bethany Dillon, Audrey Assad and Sara Groves, who are my top female vocalists of all-time. If you like those artists, you probably like female singers that make you think while you enjoy their sweet vocal style and catchy, worshipful songs. Not Myself Anymore by Jessa Anderson is one of the most captivating albums I’ve ever heard and is one of my top albums of the year.