Monday, May 23, 2011

As for Me and My House - John Waller

Tearing down idols

As for Me and My House
Artist: John Waller (http://www.johnwallermusic.com/)
Label: City of Peace Media
Length: 11 tracks/47:16 minutes

The first two songs on As for Me and My House by John Waller are bold battle cries. “Spirit of death you have no place here, I command you to leave in Yeshua’s name,” Waller sings over Middle Eastern sounds on “Our God Reigns.” It’s the opening salvo in a war against the ills that plague humanity. “Our God reigns here,” Waller declares in the chorus. “We claim this ground in Yeshua’s name … the battle’s won, have no fear, because God reigns here.” This and the closing “Bless Us and Keep Us” reference Israel, which is a nod toward the parallels Waller sees between the Christian life and the children of Israel, particularly in the areas of bondage and freedom, and spiritual warfare and dominion.

The next song, “As for Me and My House,” finds Waller in a declarative mode – something he is known for –, but making it personal. “I’m done building my own kingdom,” he sings. A key part of the triumphant chorus is the mention of “idols raised, tear them down.” Prior to this recording, Waller was struck by the realization that he was motivated by a strong desire for recognition in the Christian music industry. He tore that and other idols down after an intense time of seeking God. Words from the William Cowper hymn convey the idea: “The dearest idol I have known / Whate’er that idol be / Help me to tear it from thy throne / And worship only thee.”

Toward the end there is a bridge where Waller is joined by a chorus of children singing, “We will cross over Jordan / We will claim what you promised.” Waller gets the motif right. Jordan has often been likened to heaven, but the Promised Land is the life that we enjoy through laying hold of the promises. Waller knows that it’s a fight, which is why the song is like a trumpet call to Christians, encouraging them to make Joshua’s pledge their own: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15 ESV). This is the recording’s foundation.

The aggressive stance translates into music that often carries a punch. The chorus of “Yes” is similar in sound to a fist-pumping Bon Jovi anthem. Waller continues to rock on “Because God is Good,” co-written by Mac Powell of Third Day and producer Jason Hoard.

It does not slow down until track five, “Somebody Else’s Story,” a winsome song that blends a pure desire to help others with mandolin-accented acoustic music. You find a similar sound on “The Marriage Partner,” which is a tender duet between Waller and his wife Josee.

“Man of the Valley” is a mid-tempo song that opens by describing the mountaintop experiences in the Christian life. “It’s so beautiful way up here / Where the air’s so crisp, and I just wish I could stay / On this mountain where all is well,” Waller sings. Then comes the funny realization: “But I’ve looked around and nobody else / Seems to live here.” As much as one might enjoy euphoric experiences, most of our lives are lived in the valley, which is where God refines us and most of our learning takes place. The delicate female harmony on the chorus is a beautiful touch to a memorable song.

Waller is a skilled singer/songwriter, who occasionally slips into the modern worship mode as on the song “Fallen.” He continually weaves in Scripture from a variety of places – often in the same song – without it sounding wooden, giving the songs added power.

This is John Waller’s third recording. A song from a previous release, “While I'm Waiting," has the distinction of being the only track played in its entirety in the movie Fireproof, the No. 1 independent film of 2008.

You can check out the title track video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjRiNL1HKns.
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