Prime Cuts: Sparrows, Death without a Funeral, Thank You For Everything
The song titles on this record are intriguing enough to warrant the purchase of this record. "Death without a Funeral," "The Wound is Where the Light Gets in," and "Sparrows" are not your common run-in-the-mill titulars you would expect to see on the CD sleeve of a contemporary Christian release. Eschewing the trite and cliché, the song titulars in many ways are indicative of the tenure of Jason Gray's new Centricity album. Adding new twist to well-worth tales, giving shafts of depth to well-worn themes, and imbuing lyrics with lots of memorable quotes, "Where the Light Gets in" is a tour de force exercise in creativity and ingenuity.
Gray worked with nine high-profile producers on the project, including Jason Ingram (Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher), Ben Glover (MercyMe, for KING & COUNTRY) and Colby WedgeWorth (Jordan Feliz, Lincoln Brewster). "Where The Light Gets In" features 12 new songs plus his Top 15 single from 2015, "Glow In The Dark." Taking the cue from Jesus' words as contained in Matthew 10: 29-31, "Sparrows" is an effervescently upbeat pop burner about trusting in the Father who loves us more than the feathered creatures. "I Will Rise Again," which has a 90s Nelly touch with its half-spoken verses, continues an optimism which is paradigmatic of the record.
"Death with a Funeral" is easily the album's most arresting song. Written by Gray and Andy Gullahorn, the song starts with a vivid description of a funeral. It's only by the chorus the meaning of the song becomes apparent. "Thank You For Everything" finds Gray in the worship music terrain. The attention paid to the details of Gray's thanksgiving litany is the song's soaring point. The record's title track, "The Wound is Where the Light Gets In," was co-written with Jars of Clay front man Dan Haseltine, who is also featured on the song. Drawing from his own personal experiences of his 2014 divorce and the cancerous bout of his stepdad, "The Wound" speaks of hope even in our most devastating circumstances.
Nevertheless, what puts brakes on this album from accelerating into an encompassing great record is that songs lack diversity in tempo and melodic structures. Mid to up tempos dominate the entire album with many songs following a predictable (and largely similar) chord pattern. Despite the presence of 9 sets of co-producers, they couldn't eradicate a perennial problem with many singer-songwriter albums: Gray writes far too many songs on the record. As a result, he is often blind sighted from re-using the same melodically loops. Perhaps, Gray needs to let his co-writers lead a little more or better still, it's no shame to sing a song written by somone else.
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