Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Becoming - Jenny Simmons




Former Addison Road singer lets questions lead to a more satisfying faith

The Becoming
Artist: Jenny Simmons (www.jennysimmons.com)
Label: Fair Trade Services
Length: 10 tracks/37:45 minutes

Part of The Becoming by Jenny Simmons is gaining the right perspective. On “Where I Belong,” the peppy opener, Simmons sings, “I, I am right where I belong/Don’t need a place to call my own,/With You I am home.” What if, despite waywardness, restlessness and strife, we are right where we belong? Is there consolation in knowing that even when Christ’s followers lose their way, they can rest in belonging to Him?

Questions multiply on the next song, “What Faith is About”:

What if I'm not sure I heard You right
And I've found a thousand reasons not to try?
And what if I can't face the great unknown
But there's no way back and nowhere left to go?

Here, the searching ultimately leads to a more satisfying faith:

But what if I try even when I'm scared
And Your courage meets me there?
What if I hope against all hope
And believe in every trial

Experience becomes the hope found in “This I Know,” “When I take my final breath/I know I’m ready/Heaven waits for me.” It’s the confidence that having lived well by grace, no matter how one departs this life, one can look forward to being with Christ.

These first three songs are radio-friendly, in the pop/rock mode, but the fourth, a personal favorite, has a reggae rhythm punctuated by slide guitar. It’s whimsical in sound and sentiment:

When it comes to being free
I am my own worst enemy
Well I can criticize every move I make
I get a microscope on my mistakes
And I steal glory from the One who made me

It startles to think that being overly critical takes away glory from God’s work in our lives.

The song even provides a fresh take on the familiar line: “Jesus loves me, this I know.” Simmons knows the truth but needs help believing that “it’s not because of anything I’ve done/This love is unconditional,/So at my worst or at my best,/You don’t love me less,/You love me more/This I know for sure.” This is nothing new, but what a difference it might make to truly believe it. This is the foundation for true freedom. 

It gives rise to a different kind of liberty on “Letting You Go.” I can’t help thinking of it in relation to Taylor Swift’s monster hit, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” a break-up song with attitude. “Letting You Go” is a goodbye song that is a more sober reflection. The desire for freedom may be the same but Simmons’ take is a mature realization that an unhealthy dependence needs to end. Young women in particular will find help and encouragement.  

The music is guitar-driven. I like it best on the slow to mid-tempo songs, which may get less radio play, but contain gospel and country influences. The closing “Come Healing” features pedal steel and is an invitation with a twist. It’s not a call to people to respond; it’s welcoming various forms of healing. Strings grace the title track, which opens with acoustic strumming, as does “Broken Hallelujah.”

This former lead singer of Addison Road chronicles the difficult journey toward wholeness and freedom. These songs deal with the “in-between,” where questions play a role in finding truth. Being honest with ourselves and God fosters self-discovery and growth. In every situation, it’s learning to depend entirely on God.

Michael Dalton
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