Audrey Assad [Heart] | Posted January 31, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Heart by Audrey Assad is the 2012 sophomore album from the Christian singer/songwriter. The album finds Audrey once again collaborating with other songwriters and producer Marshall Altman crafting another collection of songs that mine the depths of both heart and soul as only Audrey can. The 27 year-old, Nashville-based singer/songwriter stepped into the spotlight with her debut album, The House You're Building, also produced by Altman which was one of my top 10 albums of 2010. Do you remember the first time you listened to your favorite album of all-time? For many years, that album for me was Jars of Clay by Jars of Clay (1995) and then Casting Crowns by Casting Crowns (2003). Add Heart by Audrey Assad to that distinguished list of landmark Christian music albums.
I can’t get enough of Audrey’s singing voice and the incredible and introspective messages of her great songs. “Blessed Are The Ones” is a wonderful opener which Audrey co-wrote with Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken regarding her expectations of marriage. The gorgeous bridge, “Love is all we need” leads to Audrey’s sensational vocals literally rising to another level. I hang on every single note. Audrey’s first year of marriage framed the entire writing process of this album as her husband learned he had treatable cancer and you can at times physically feel Audrey’s soul-imploring emotions in these twelve flawless and compelling songs. Audrey wrote “What It Ought To Be” for her husband before they were married, and God has used their trials to bring them even closer to Him and each other than they could have imagined. “Even The Winter” and “The Way You Move” each feature phrases that give closer glimpses of Audrey’s walk with God, with Audrey crying out “even the dark cannot disarm us…because we know that it’s worth it, sowing the seeds in the soil of our love” and “all my pride, it doesn’t stand a chance against the way You move.” Amen. “Sparrow” features Audrey’s flawless vocals and her signature introspective and prayerful message as she yearns “why should I be lonely…when Jesus is my portion, and a constant Friend I know, I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, His eye is on the sparrow, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He’s watching me, I sing because He loves me, I sing because I’m free, He’s watching you, He’s watching me.”
As if those opening tracks didn’t rock my world, then Audrey delivers the most emotionally breathtaking song I’ve ever heard, “Breaking You.” Audrey opens with “you’ve been let down, it’s true, your pain is easy to see” which leads to the most incredible bridge, “lift up your head, help is on the way, and it won’t pass you by, you just gotta reach out your hand, love is on His way, and He won’t pass you by, you just gotta reach out a hand..” Have a box of tissues handy as I bawl like a baby every time I listen to the amazing song. “O My Soul” keeps the emotional flow going as Audrey beautifully sings during her piano-based ballad, “don’t lie to yourself, o my soul, just love your God, your worries will never love you, they’ll leave you all alone, but your God will not forsake you, o my soul.” Oh my, the tears just kept flowing. “Won Me Over” and “No Turning Back” celebrate the freedom we have in Christ, including the hymn re-write of “I Have Decided” declaration in the bridge of “No Turning Back”— “though none go with me, still I will follow, no turning back, no turning back.” “Lament” is another standout track (they all are), and Audrey opens with the biblically based confession: “I’m Mary & Martha all at the same time, I’m sitting at His feet and yet I’m dying to be recognized.” It’s that type of transparent lyrical “gourmet” phrasing that ranks this album above any I’ve ever heard. “Wherever You Go” and “Slow” each have moments that remind me of Brooke Fraser’s stellar albums including imploring lyrical sincerity: “prophets and lovers don’t always hold true but I’m never going to stop falling for You” and “I’ve heard that faith moves mountains, I know it moves my feet to follow You, and maybe I’m a mountain because it’s moving me to follow You, Your Love moves slow, let’s move slow.” Amen. Closing song “New Song” includes another deeply honest confessional moment, “all I am is a breath and vapor, and shadow, and all I have is what I need, this I know, that I need a new song...words are failing, my melodies falter, my voice is breaking, my heart is burning, because blessing and honor, glory and power, praise and worship, they belong to You!”
Audrey Assad's new album Heart is loaded with meaningful, engaging and beautiful songs and is the most amazing album by a female vocalist I've ever heard. Heart by Audrey Assad ranks with Invisible Empires by Sara Groves and Albertine by Brooke Fraser as a flawless and emotional depiction of the beauty and majesty of our Creator's "Heart." Thank you Audrey for blessing us with your gifted gorgeous vocals and for pouring yourself into songs that deeply stir my soul. Audrey Assad is my favorite new female vocalist and this album really captures the beauty and sincerity of her incredible vocals and stirring songs. The House You're Building captivated me and Heart has completely “won me over.” From start to finish, all twelve songs weave a tapestry that is artful, engaging, catchy, emotional, and after several listens and goose bump inducing moments, I am convinced that this is now my favorite album, ever. If I’m ever stranded on a deserted island and I can only listen to one album the rest of my days, Heart by Audrey Assad is the album I’ll take with me.