Let me start by saying my New Music Pick of the Week for 1/22/2013 is an unusual one.
While it is not unusual for me to review worship albums on Spin: the Blog, I tend to lean more towards more mainstream, radio ready tunes for my new music picks of the week. Everything changes this week with the release of Meredith Andrews’ latest album, Worth It All, which is my New Music Pick of the Week for January 22nd, 2013.
Other than Andrews’ current radio hit off of the Worth It All album, the single Not For A Moment, I was not familiar with her body of work. Some light but effective detective work revealed that Andrews’ began singing in church when she was just six years old; from these youthful beginnings, the Word Worship artist has soared to distinguished heights, winning Dove Awards for “Worship Song of the Year” and “Praise and Worship Album of the Year” in 2011 and recognition as Billboard’s “Most Promising New Artist” in 2008.
After listening to Worth It All, it is fairly easy to ascertain what all the hoopla about Meredith Andrews is all about. Andrews has a lush, evocative voice that is unparalleled in its beauty. Her passionate and inspiring vocals are surprisingly versatile, at times reminiscent of Darlene Zschech’s extravagant and powerful range (Open Up The Heavens, Burn Away) while at other times still lovely but toned down and more suited for mass appeal on the radio (Wonder of Wonders, Pieces).
Andrews’ beautifully crafted Worth It All has something to uplift everyone’s soul on its 11 track album, regardless of whether or not they are the typical worship music fan.
Open Up The Heavens—The first track on the album, and in my opinion, one of the standouts. It’s a superlative blend of Andrews’ rich lead vocals, compelling lyrics, and ardent back-up vocals and music; a truly great praise and worship song.
Not For A Moment (After All)—If you haven’t heard this song, I’d really like to know what Christian radio station you’re listening to because this song is everywhere (and with good reason, I might add). This song is nice showcase not just for Andrews’ voice, but for her writing ability as well (Andrews’ co-wrote the song with her husband, Jacob Sooter and Mia Fieldes); one of my personal favorites on the album.
Strong God—This song starts off with a slower tempo, gradually building in its hold over the listener until a crescendo near the end. Honestly, as I listened to this song I had to look at the cover of the CD a few times because I was thinking, “How can a voice that big come out of such a diminutive, youthful looking woman?” Still don’t know the answer to that question!
Start With Me—I feel like this is one of the most authentic, transparent works on the album, and quite frankly, I loved it. The lyrics are beautifully heartfelt while remaining painfully honest: “Break what needs breaking/Until you’re all I see/Start with me/Start with me.”
Worth It All –The album’s title track, and quite deservedly so. An epic-sounding love song for Jesus, which is kind of fitting considering the title of the song. The lyrics are simplistic, but Andrews’ vocals and the musical accompaniment add layers of luxurious textures that are very satisfying to listen to; a fine choice for the title track.
All I Ask—This song has a different feel about it than most of the other songs on this album. This song bears the sentimentality of a 1950’s melodically infused torch song; part prayer, part confessional, 100% lovely.
Burn Away—Brilliant and captivating lyrics collide with Andrews’ fiery vocals, creating another standout on the album. “Only You/All I need/Let nothing stand/In Between/Make me yours/Consuming Fire/Burn Away/Everything that breaks your heart/Everything that is not love/Purify my every thought/Take away/Everything that comes between us/Everything that isn’t true/Jesus make me more like you/Burn away”. I loved this track!
Your Kingdom Reigns—This song has grown on me. At first, I wasn’t completely sure about it, but with each click of the repeat button it has grown on me. The lyrics are very simple, but Andrews’ voice really makes this song shine. Andrews’ always seems to give the album everything she’s got on every track, and it really paid off on this track in particular.
Wonder of Wonders—I thought this was a really sweet song, and I liked Andrews’ tone and the expressive quality of her voice on her track. This is one of those songs where you can definitely hear the versatility and power of Andrews’ voice.
The Gospel Changes Everything—this is such a beautiful song, perhaps somewhat pared down stylistically from the more grandiose numbers like Open Up The Heavens, but in the simple truths of the song’s lyrics, its true strength is revealed. Andrews’ voice has an almost whimsical, mesmerizing quality to it on this track that is especially poignant when paired with the sentiments of the song. I could personally listen to this song over and over.
Pieces—With clever lyrics and an upbeat tune, Andrews’ ends her third album on a high note. The radio ready Pieces again shows that Andrews’ has considerably more to offer her fans than just straight up worship music. “It’s a complex puzzle you call your life/It’s an uphill climb/It’s an constant fight/And it wears you down/Feeling like you’re alone/Like you don’t belong/And you won’t be loved/If you don’t measure up/And you wear your scars/Like they’re who you are/Give him your wounds/Your bruised and broken pieces/All your questions/All your secrets/You don’t have to hide who you are/You belong to someone greater/Than all your past mistakes and failures/He knows how to make your pieces fit.”
Of her latest work, particularly the song Not For a Moment, Andrews recently said, “When we wrote the song, we had no idea that God would use the lyrics of this song to minister to us months after we had written it.” She went on to add, “The truth that He loves us and will never forsake us, even in our weakest, darkest moments, is a truth that never changes. It is always true. He is constant, good, and in control even when it’s difficult to believe. I’ve seen first-hand the influence that truth set to music has on people’s lives.”
Andrews’ is correct on all counts with this statement. In 2011, my cousin Rachel Bevington tragically lost her father to a massive heart attack in the middle of the night, leaving her left to feel an agonizing spiral of pain and hurt in the time that followed. It was during this time that Rachel discovered Andrews’ music, who she says is one of her “ultimate favorites.” Of the single Not For A Moment, Rachel said “I’ve played this song countless times and it has really helped to put the pain at ease of losing my father. The song has so much meaning, and has brought me so much healing.”
I’m pretty sure that this kind of reaction to her music makes the singing/songwriting process Worth It All for Meredith Andrews.
Andrews’ latest project truly makes a statement about what really is Worth It All. Much like the Gospel changes everything, so too does the album Worth It All; when it comes to previously held ideas about what a worship album is supposed to sound like, Worth It All breaks the mold and changes everything in a refreshing, unique way. This album absolutely has the potential to be one of the top releases in Christian Music this year.
With the release of Worth It All, Meredith Andrews continues to distinguish herself as one of the premier female artists in the music industry today. Andrews’ trademark lavish vocals and beautifully crafted lyrics come together to create a one of kind album that is not only engaging and authentic, but will faithfully bless the hearts of all who listen to it for years to come.