Prime Cuts: Stand By Me, Turning Away, Pick Me
Many contemporary Christian songs treat Jesus like a time-card punching cleaning lady. After a long laborious day when every employee has left the building and the last light in the cubicle has turned off, she comes in without fail to mop, vacuum and dust the entire facility. Regardless of how messy we have fouled up, we can almost be certain that the cleaning lady will usher us into the office the next day with spotless carpet and the smell of glass cleaning liquid in the air. This is how some of us treat Jesus. We know that regardless of how we live our lives in debauchery and sin, Jesus is always there to clean up our mess. After all, isn't it his job to forgive? As a result of such a presumption of grace, "repentance" becomes a byword swept under the carpet. There's no burgeoning resolve to hate sin and there's no growing resolution towards Godliness. This is not so with Bryan Andrew Wilson. Like a breath of fresh air is Wilson's current single "Turning Away." This ballad, which is about deliberately turning away from temptation and sin, is a rare breed these days. It's one of those songs we need to be listening to every day to keep our hearts away from doing things that hurt Jesus.
Bryan Andrew Wilson always has music in his blood. His grandfather, Tommy Davis was a Mississippi quartet singer who played with B. B. King in his pre-stardom days. Thus, it is not fortuitous when Wilson tackles King's 1961 signature tune "Stand By Me" on this new disc. Featuring a Caribbean island feel, Wilson sounds relaxed taking his time to nuance what some of the most moving lyrics about friendship and love. Not only was his granddad steeped in the music industry, his mother Sheila was also part of the R&B group WQBC. As blood runs thicker than water, on a track like "Pick Me" we can hear Wilson harkening back to the Motown sock-hop groove of Stevie Wonder making this track one of the album's most infectious piece. But not all is stymied in the past: "Conqueror" (which is co-produced by Justin Timberlake's keyboardist Justin Gilbert) wraps Romans 8:28-39 in a suave beat and fresh pulsating bass line.
With such a pedigree, it is no surprise that Wilson is also a musical prodigy himself. Discovered at the age of 10, Wilson started singing with the Mississippi Children's Choir in 1994. Later, he went on to release his own solo efforts with songs being helmed by Kirk Franklin, John P. Kee and Walter Hawkins. However, things started going south when Wilson's voice changed and he couldn't hit the same celestial notes as he once did. Suicidal and depressed, Wilson was his lowest before he gave his life to Jesus again. Such a cycle from depression to hope is chronicled in the soul-stirring ballad "And It's Over," where Wilson pours out his heart: "Depression clouds pouring down rain, soaked in sorrow, drenched in pain. Then Your voice echoing came saying child now don't you faint. I stopped the pity party and I started laughing hearty. And put a smile on my face, I made a decision."
With such a testimony of God's saving power, it certainly makes sense to hear a jubilant Wilson emptying his soul in pure Gospel style with Durance Pace (of the Anointed Pace Sisters) on the rollicking "I'm Standing." Crossing barriers of genres is the interesting infusing of Jesus Culture's "Show Me Your Glory" and William Reagan's "Set a Fire" as a medley. At the end of the day, the album's titular best sums up the record. As Jesus himself would not let the one percent of sinners go in the "Parable of the Lost Sheep," these songs would not let us go until we come face to face with Jesus. Further, these 15 cuts remind us again and again that there is always hope and rejoicing to the one who repents and makes the Godly resolve to follow Jesus as Lord.