Review Rating: Must Listen! (4.5 / 5)
Texas-based band MercyMe has been sharing meaningful music, worship, concerts and more with the contemporary Christian community for decades. Recipients of Dove Awards and Grammy nominations, the band is well-known for classic worship songs like “I Can Only Imagine,” “Word Of God Speak” and more recently the popular hit “Dear Younger Me” off album Welcome To The New. Headed by lead vocalist Bart Millard, MercyMe has announced they will be adding to their repertoire with their latest 10-track studio album, LIFER, officially set for release this Friday.
For a veteran CCM group such as MercyMe, you may wonder from where they continue to draw inspiration after all of their albums and projects. Millard explains, “This new record is the logical next chapter after our last album, and it carries a new perspective. ‘Welcome To The New’ was all about grace and identity in Christ- a welcoming to the life of being a new creation by grace. And it’s such an exciting truth to grasp, but then life continues to go on and eventually the newness of that wears off and we need encouragement and support to sustain us… So the album title ‘Lifer’ and the theme of the record is all about reminding ourselves and others about the victory we have in the end through Christ. We are all in this for life- even on the days when we don’t feel like doing any of it. We want these songs to be a morale boost to remind people of who they are and what Christ has done.”
Not only reflected in the album’s title, the group’s inspiration is noticeable throughout the entire project, in melodies and lyrics that are upbeat and encouraging. Listeners are sure to recognize “Even If,” a single off LIFER that has already hit radio airwaves and that speaks directly from this inspiration. It is a beautiful and powerful reminder that in moments when God chooses to not move mountains, not bring us through the fire, or not take away our pain, we still love Him for all He has done for us. Similarly, the title track “Lifer” is a groovy, pop tune that celebrates our commitment as believers and the knowledge that God is always with us, as we continue to praise Him because “that’s what lifers do.”
MercyMe uses varied and unique styles and sounds to express their story and share encouragement, like in “Hello Beautiful.” Beginning with plucked guitar accompaniment in a tight rhythm along with vocals, the tune further develops as hand drum percussion joins in, creating a folksy backdrop. In this tune, Millard speaks about the traps of self-doubt and regret, while sending a reminder to shut these things out and enjoy the freedom that we’ve been given by God. Also with a unique twist is “Happy Dance,” a funky, dance pop anthem. This toe-tapping song uses fun, diverse instrumentation while celebrating the joy we receive from being believers. The bridge is marked by vocals mimicking a drumline-like solo and sound, which transforms into an actual drumline accompaniment as the bridge continues to develop. Alternatively, “Heavens Here” is introduced with voices singing and chanting in rhythm with accompaniment that builds until the entrance of Millard’s lead vocal for the first verse, at which time it drops away except for percussion and vocals. This percussive rhythm flows at baseline through the entire song, except for the simplified vocal and piano duet during the bridge. Rather than us wish our life away waiting for the blessings found in Heaven, these unique lyrics encourage us to enjoy the sweet blessings God has given us in this life and the relationship we enjoy with Him now.
Not surprising, MercyMe continues to make meaningful contributions to the CCM community with the sounds and messages found on “LIFER.” While there is something for all listeners to relate to, it does effectively focus its message on obstacles that Christians may face during times when the day-to-day walk is tough, while providing encouragement and reminders about God’s promises. Be sure to check out “LIFER” this Friday, available for pre-order now.