Sometimes you come across a record by an artist you've never heard of before and you instantly know that they are someone you will eagerly await their next effort with anticipation. Artists who have been that way for me are Sara Groves, Andrew Peterson, Sandra McCracken, Audrey Assad and now Jess Ray.
I was blown away by the beautiful way that she is able to incorporate deeper truth in such a simple and honest way.
As she sings in the first song off the album "Too Good":
He may be too good to be understood but He's not too good to be true
How often we need to be reminded of this truth.
This North Carolina native has a gift for songwriting and a voice that draws you in and you find yourself moved not only by the craftsmanship but the purity of the words as she sings them. Take a song like "In The Meantime" which one might first take to be a traditional love song about a relationship but then you listen closer and hear:
Hey baby, do you remember when I said that I would give you more
than you could ever ask or imagine?
I wasn't playing, I wasn't playing with you baby.
I'm the one in control, you're the one that I'm holding,
I'll take your burdens on my shoulders and carry us on.
How many artists can sing of Christ this way? And pull it off?
It takes a deftness of talent to write songs that speak of God's unconditional love for us and do so through His point-of-view. These songs show a tenderness. Take this line line from "Dimensions" that goes, "You have no idea how safe you really are."
The vulnerability that she allows to come through in this song and in "Runaway" that ties in the beloved children's book The Runaway Bunny and the unconditional love God has for us is powerful and moves one to tears.
Even if you run away from me, over the mountains through the valleys
I will not rest but search east and west to bring you back with me
It's the shepherd going after the one sheep. It's the tenderness of mother and father who reminds the child:
. . . you will never see the bottom of my storehouses of love
She tells of how he loves no matter what, even if one rejects him. He will still "love you and teach you to love me again." These are love songs from Christ to us. It's as if she has written Psalms, but from Jesus to us, not to elevate us but to show just how deep his love for us really and truly is.
All of the songs on this album show a maturity and depth that makes one want to relisten to this album over and over again just to get into the beauty of the language, of her voice, and the music. Each time I thought I knew which song was my favorite, another one would come along and surprise me and move me so much that I fell in love with all of them. And I love that the last line of the last song of the album is the promise, "That where I am you will also be, where I am you will also be."
This album is a gift to the listener who is rewarded by the talent and artistry of Jess Ray.
You can purchase her album on iTunes, Amazon, or her website. Or you can download it at Noisetrade either for free or for a tip.
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