Sunday, September 18, 2011

CD Review: Jeremy Riddle - Furious

Furious by Jeremy Riddle
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Label: Vineyard Music
Format:  Compact Disc, 54 min, 19 sec

1. Fall Afresh
2. Furious
3. Love Came Down
4. One Thing Remains
5. Acquitted        
6. You Are Good
7. Walk In The Promise
8. One Thirst and Hunger
9. Glory To The Lamb
10. The Lord Is My Shepherd
11. Here
12. Always

My Review:

Jeremy Riddle returns with his third studio release entitled Furious.  Before listening to Furious, my familiarity with Riddle was primarily from his 2007 Number One single, "Sweetly Broken", which topped the K-Love radio chart for more than 40 weeks.  On this new project, Jeremy works with producers Ed Cash, Bobby Hartry, and Jeremy Edwardson.  Riddle, a worship leader and songwriter, penned all the songs on the album, occasionally writing with Brian Johnson (pastor of Bethel Church) and/or Christa Black (solo artist who spent years as violinist/background vocalist in Michael W. Smith's band).

From the opening track, it is clear that the listener is in for a special experience.  The lead-off song, "Fall Afresh", is a beautiful prayer and invitation to the Holy Spirit.  As such, the song is a wonderful way to begin and establish the emotional tone for the album.  The music starts quietly with gentle, melodic notes and builds until it bursts forth like a sunrise.  I'd liken the song to a morning prayer, as it expresses both the peace and the invigorating energy a prayer can bring.  Jeremy sings:

Spirit of the Living God, Come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul
Pour in me to overflow, to overflow 

With the single "Furious", Riddle captures the energy and passion of God's love as well as its power to transform.  You'll find yourself singing along with the chorus:

His love is deep, His love is wide, And it covers us. 
His love is fierce, His love is strong, It is furious. 
His love is sweet, His love is wild, And it’s waking hearts to life. 

"Love Came Down", "One Things Remains", and "Acquitted" address the mercy and steadfast love of God -- a constant in our lives, whether we are experiencing joy or despair.  "One Thing Remains" has its own infectious refrain:

Your love never fails
It never gives up 
It never runs out on me

"You are Good" is sure to be a hit at radio as well as a crowd favorite during live shows.  The straight-ahead rock song full of driving bass and guitar is a celebratory praise offering that will make you feel like dancing and shouting along as Riddle proclaims:

I’ll sing because You are good
I’ll dance because You are good
I’ll shout because You are good
You are good to me, to me

I could go on and on and on singing the praises of this album.  Furious is so strong a finished product that you'll not want to skip a single track.  The album is well-sequenced:  quiet, reflective songs, anthemic praise songs,  rocky celebrations -- all are here and seamlessly woven together in a way that ebbs and flows naturally.  Musically, the album is beautifully and carefully crafted.  Many songs have various movements that tend to start more slowly and quietly, build to a crescendo, and come back down to a quiet stillness and peaceful prayer opportunity.  "Walk In The Promise" is a stirringly gorgeous example of this.  Minor key and moody, the song is perfect for listening to at night under a starry sky or on the open road.  In fact, the latter part of the record lends itself to quiet reflection and peaceful retreat.  "Glory To The Lamb", another joyful praise anthem, co-written with Christa Black, is wedged in between the quieter moments to keep things from feeling too weighty. 

One of my favorites, "The Lord Is My Shepherd", based in part on Psalm 23, is both a prayer and a declaration of love from a faithful follower.  Riddle shares that he wrote this song out of his own experience with a period of darkness.  He talks of having "checked out" for a week, losing himself in a television show.  Not wanting to depend on anything other than God, this song is his resolution to turn only to God for solace and satisfaction:
The Lord is my Shepherd,
And I’ll want for nothing.
You lead me to water
For You know I’m thirsting.
And I, I’m only satisfied by You, by You.

Every day, I’ll make a choice 
To be led only by Your voice.
To be bold, unafraid
Knowing I am covered, I am safe
And even now in my need
You are proving yet again to me
That You are there, You are there, always there

Another favorite of mine is the final track, "Always".  It is a gentle, plaintive prayer sung over a lullaby-like loop:
I want to run away,
Find a place quiet to pray.
A place that’s lonely,
Where I can find You only.

It's a perfect ending.  The album began with what sounded like sunrise, and it ends with the quiet of night and moon.  Riddle sings his heart to God in prayer.  "Fall Afresh", "Walk in The Promise", and "Always" carry prayer through the record in a way that recalls Psalm 55:17,  "Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice.

Furious is an well-crafted collection of fervent, passionate, prayerful songs that you'll be able to connect with.  You'll find words and music that reflect your heart for every mood and moment.  Don't walk, run to pick up a copy! You'll not regret it! (Please see links to iTunes and other web sites at the bottom of this post.)

*Highly recommended!*

Meet Jeremy:

Jeremy Riddle is a songwriter and worship leader. He first hit the scene in 2007 with the critically acclaimed record, Full Attention. This project had the radio hit "Sweetly Broken", which was the number one song on the radio station K-Love for over 40 weeks in 2007. Since then Jeremy has toured extensively all over the US. The Riddle Band has opened for Rebecca St. James and Big Daddy Weave and has played events with Brenton Brown as well.
In 2009 Jeremy released his second project, The Now and Not Yet with the radio singles "Bless His Name" and "Christ Is Risen".  In the fall of 2010 his first full length live project Prepare the Way was released, including tracks from live shows in 2009.

Jeremy comes from a family of 7 children and was homeschooled all the way through high school. He graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a BA in Political Science.  Jeremy attended and later served as a youth pastor at the Anaheim Vineyard. Riddle is married with 4 children and now lives in Redding, California, where he is part of the worship ministry at Bethel Church.

Furious Album Bio:
“…and as I passed the fire I did not know whether it was hell or the furious love of God.”
- GK Chesterton, The Diabolist

A certain, magnificent comfort exists in the resolve that, of man’s innumerable conquests, fully grasping God’s love is one that will never be actualized. Such truth has left Christians scouring for words to best describe this holy affection since the Old Testament.

As Chesterton’s quote rattled around in Jeremy Riddle’s mind over a recent period of time, it was decided “furious” was the closest expression he was going to get regarding his experience with a divine love.

“It’s hard to come up with words that depict the magnitude of Christ’s love – the depth and width of it,” Jeremy says. ‘Furious’ doesn’t work outside of the context of love; we tend to translate the word as angry, but I see it as a super-powerful force; stronger, deeper, broader than our vocabulary can fully describe.”

So if each new album should serve as the next chapter in an artist’s life story, Furious is a well-suited project title for a man who’s spent much of the past year struggling to accurately express his experience of a passionate God amidst some life transition.

Four years on the road as a touring worship leader eventually took its toll on Jeremy, so in January 2011, the former Jr. High youth pastor came on staff as worship community pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Working under pastors Brian and Jenn Johnson, Jeremy facilitates a worship community of over 200 people within the church.

“My wife (Katie) and I have always had a heart to serve the local church and never wanted to do the full-time travel thing for very long, so it felt like a good time to transition into something different,” Jeremy says. “I’ve developed such an appreciation for the fruit that has been sowed from my life – personally and artistically – by being part of a local community.”

Jeremy Riddle on the Web: 

*Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received the above CD for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."