Prime Cuts: Don't Be Afraid, You'll Find Love Again, Whole Heart
Overall Grade: 3/5
In every era of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) there are the standard gatekeepers who ensure that the genre's music are kept abreast with the times. A generation ago, there were Amy Grant, Kathy Troccoli, and Michael W. Smith. In today's current crop, there are David Gunn, Matthew West and Brandon Heath. Everything sound you expect from a secular pop record, you can expect to hear it here. Thus, "Faith Hope Love Repeat" possesses a slick, polished and sophisticated sound with the exception of the lyrics, which are distinctively Christian and inspirational. This means that if you are looking for a Christian alternative to Luis Fonsi or Taylor Swift without getting embarrassed in front of your friends, Brandon Heath belongs to the pool you would look out for.
"Faith Hope Love Repeat" is a labor of love for Heath. This album took him almost two years to complete and Heath filtered through over a 100 songs before settling for these 11 cuts. Considering the arduous input Heath invested in the record, it is almost shameful for any reviewer to say anything negative about the record. Truth is, there are some soaring moments on the record. You can feel the immediacy of Heath when he sings the dynamic pop ballad "Don't Be Afraid." After his own bout with fear himself, you can hear that this song is not just notes on paper for him. Rather, it's his own "homily" that he delivers to his own spirit.
If you want a lift to your own spirits, "You'll Find Love Again" is a pick-up-your-heart gorgeous. Then the snappy beat-driven "Whole Heart" is not only a catchy worship piece but it's the song with "hit" written all over it. While "Got the Love" finds Heath indulging in some Motown R&B groove. But truth also needs to prevail. "Faith Hope Love Repeat," like many CCM efforts these days, fall into a rut. In an attempt to be contemporary and relevant, Heath has sacrificed something called originality. Frankly, there's nothing here musically that really sets this record apart from the many vanilla CCM efforts.
Lyrically, Heath canvasses the same terrain as a zillion and one CCM artists. He deals with the issue of self-identity ("Someone Like Me"), fear ("Don't Be Afraid"), faith ("A Little Faith") and so forth. But as John Piper famously pointed out recently, it takes more than just one's brokenness to appreciate God's grace. Though Heath doesn't do this en masse across the record, but at times he comes close. This is a well-produced and well-executed album, but it just not too exciting or different.