Prime Cuts: I Don't Have to Worry, Yellow Balloons, Kingdom
Overall Score: 4/5
Tragedy has a way of opening up vistas into God's grace and mercy otherwise unassailable. The value of David Dunn's "Yellow Balloons" is in the insights he offers precisely because he has had been through some of the most difficult times. Take the song "I Don't Have to Worry" as an example, how could Dunn ever sing "the lion's den is the safest place" unless he himself have had been with the lions a time or two. Brimming with great spiritual insights coming not from a high chair but from a man who has had walked through life's furnace, this is an album will definitely open up a new appreciation of God's grace.
"Yellow Balloons," Dunn's sophomore release for BEC Recordings, is definitely a product baked with the fires of trials. During a rare visit to his hometown of Midland, Texas, for a show, Dunn stopped by his sister's house to visit his two young nieces. Before he left, his sister put the youngest down for a nap, but she never woke up. To this day, the cause of death remains unexplainable, leaving the family with a broken heart and a well of unanswered questions. The 10 songs that form "Yellow Balloons" came out of these months of wrestling with grief, pain, and sufferings.
In the light of Dunn's recent tragic context, album opener "Kingdom" is startlingly worshipful. Many in Dunn's shoes would have opened their record with an imprecatory number. But not Dunn. Still bursting with a heart of worship and submission to God, "Kingdom" is a powerful pop shuffle that calls for God to "bring heaven down to the here and now." Starting off in a whimper before an exploding chorus that speaks of God's abiding presence in our troubled times "Open Arms" is itself a ministry to the broken.
"Grace will Lead Me Home" essentially utilizes the chorus of "Amazing Grace" set to new music. However, with the eternal nature of "Amazing Grace's" tune, it's hard not to feel disappointed with Dunn's newly crafted melodic lines. The aforementioned "I Don't Have to Worry" is a thesaurus of inspiring quotes of how we can build our faith in tough times. "I Don't Wanna Go Back," a nostalgic ode back to simpler times, somehow pales coming directly after "I Don't Have to Worry."
The latter half of the record is more ballad heavy. Dunn adopts a Bob Dylan-folk-ish approach to his ballads which can be a double-edged sword. Some may find them too similar to each other where the tempo becomes a tad too soporific. Nevertheless, the title cut "Yellow Balloons" deserves a listen just for the rawness of Dunn's emotions and honesty. This is a record for the hurting. This means it's an album for all of us ---- for aren't we hurting in one way or another?