In his twisted and lurid mind, Satan likes to hoodwink us by changing around the price tags. Instead of being pegged with immeasurable value, Satan purposefully dumps down the Christian life as restrictive, legalistic and a big party pooper. Instead of enjoying the freedom that comes with forgiveness, Satan deceitfully reminds us that life is about our justice. And we have a right to fight for our own vindication at the expense of trashing those who have hurt us. Instead of basking in the ecstasy of trusting Jesus, Satan elevates money, position and power to such great heights that they stand in the way of our purview of God. "Welcome to the New" finds MercyMe sneaking into our topsy turvy world and does a stock take by changing back all the price tags. These 10 new songs eradicate Satan's value system and put glory back to the things that are central to God (and to us) again.
"Welcome to the New" is MercyMe's eighth studio record that follows in the heels of 2012 Billboard Christian no. 1 album "The Hurt and Healer." Earlier indications seem to suggest that "Welcome to the New' is poised to follow in the footsteps of their four preceding albums by camping again at the penthouse of the chart. Working this time with producers David Garcia and Ben Glover (TobyMac, Mandisa), the album is preceded by its lead single "Shake." Not the same song as Neal McCoy's hit of the same titular, "Shake" is a ball of fun that dispels the myth that Christianity is a party pooper. Rather, imbued with a throwback 70s rock n' roll charm, it's so infectious you can't help but sing along, "You gotta shake, shake, shake/Like you're changed, changed, changed/Brand new looks so good on you/So shake like you've been changed."
More celebratory praise of the blessedness of our new life in Christ is found in the album's title cut "Welcome to the New." Joining in this party crowd are Bart Millard's firey vocals, some clappy electric drums and even the twitching sounds of a transistor radio that opens the cut. With an a cappella intro of the boys' layered harmonies on "Greater," for a moment you might think that MercyMe has gone all Southern Gospel. While the stripped-down pseudo-acoustic "Flawless" rightly teaches us that the Cross of Jesus is more than just a historic event of the past. Rather, the Cross transforms the way we understand our own dignity and self-worth. "Finish What He's Started" is based on Philippians 1:6 and it's the album's epic ballad. With echo-y drums, a heavy bass line and huge guitar hooks, if you like a soaring ballad that speaks of how God continues to work out his redemption in our lives, this is it.
A couple of songs certainly edges out of the kilter: the first is "Wishful Thinking." With just a old churchy organ backing Millard's sturdy tenor, the first minute of "Wishful Thinking" certainly raises one's goose bumps in what is love song to Jesus without the Hallmark-ish garnish. The second is the creative "Dear Younger Me." If you are someone in the autumnal years of life and if you have to write a letter back to a younger version of yourself, what pearls of wisdom would you give? If you want to know what MercyMe has to say, download this album as it's worth it just for this song alone. In our culture where religion is perennially frowned upon, MercyMe puts the Christ back into Christianity. And when Christ is central, this is where the party begins.