Release Date: January 22nd 2013
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
Meredith Andrews has always been one of my favourite female worship leaders in the past few years, along with Kari Jobe. The first time I ever heard the Word Records artist from North Carolina was when I heard “You’re Not Alone” on the radio, I instantly thought there was something special about her. I was right. Never compromising her faith, and still creating lyrically relevant and honest music about Jesus, there are plenty of Meredith’s songs that are some of my favourites and have propelled her into one of the most respected singer songwriters currently. Apart from her debut single in 2008, songs like “Can Anybody Hear Me”, “The River”, “Who Is Like You”, “New Song We Sing”, “You Invite Me In”, “Come Home”, “What Is Means To Love”, and the Dove Award winning “How Great Is The Love” all are highlights of an already blessed career so far, and each of them have the ability to change lives and show us that Meredith’s prowess as a singer and a writer just keeps on improving! With song after song containing such a strong bond between her words and the audience, and Meredith’s big heart she has for Jesus and the church penetrating and seeping through her honest work; it’s hard not to fall in love with her 3rd effort Worth It All. Already gaining buzz through “Not For A Moment”, which released in July last year, Meredith’s new album after 3 years of writing and becoming a mother, is sure to bring a different perspective and deeper meanings and lyrics. No doubt Worth It All will be a fan favourite for many years; this is Meredith’s most mature and ‘complete’ album to date…
The lead single “Not For A Moment” is somewhat personal for Meredith and her husband. Starting off with a stirring piano riff, transitioning into smooth and beautifully sung vocals; Meredith cries out her thoughts and feelings, and speaks about how God will never leave us or forsake us, and that in the deepest darkest pits, He is still there ‘….every step, every breath, You are there; every tear, every cry, every prayer, in my heart, at my worst, when my world falls down; not for a moment will You forsake me…’. When Meredith and her husband Jacob were in a tough season a little while after this song was written with Australian songwriter Mia Fieldes; this track became all the more real to them, and was their saving grace; their lifeline. Such is the power of music and honest lyrics that it can change a person’s life dramatically; and Meredith’s prowess as a songwriter and a singer has shown me that she is at the top of her game, and I’m sure she will be in many years to come. A no-brainer for a Dove Award nomination for Song Of The Year; “Not For A Moment” sets the bar high, and the rest of the album does not fail to deliver!
Meredith also has included a couple of co-writes, and a cover in her repertoire- the inclusions of “Open Up The Heavens”, “Strong God” and the title track “Worth It All” all bolster and improve the line-up as Meredith delivers performances that showcase her beautiful voice, and point the praise and adoration to Jesus Christ. Co-written with Andi Rozier, Stu G and Jason Ingram; “Open Up The Heavens” begins with gang vocals, and light acoustic guitar, that bring an extra depth to the song, and gets me hooked within the first few seconds. Add to that Meredith’s powerful voice proclaiming to God, and asking him to ‘…open up the heavens, we want to see You, flowing from Your heart, filling every part of our praise…’; you get an anthemic worship anthem that builds and builds to a mighty crescendo; a perfect opener that is sure to be played in churches globally soon. “Strong God” is co-written with Jon Egan, lead singer of Desperation Band. An uplifting song about how strong God is, and how he is beyond everything we could ever imagine ‘… awesome is our strong God, mighty is our God…’; I’m left in awe at the end of this sublime track- an all-out praise anthem that highlights Meredith’s heart for Jesus, and utilises many instruments that blend in just right. These are indeed simple lyrics, yet the words of praising God because of his strength can be more impacting on the listener than first impressions. “Worth It All”, written by Ben Cantelon, is the other track that Meredith shows us her interpretation, a praise song of utter devotion to Jesus, driven by Meredith’s gorgeous piano playing. Lyrically, Meredith declares that God is higher and more greater than any treasure, and asks God to ‘…set this heart of fire…’ and later prayerfully declares ‘…I let go of what I have just have all of You, and no matter what the coast, I will follow You, Jesus everything I lost, I have found in You, when I finally reached the end I say You are worth it all…’. This is true love and devotion, and what we all should strive to be like: loving Jesus until He is the only One we desire and we would be content if we lost everything but still had God, like a Job type of mindset. While none of us may be there yet, this song sure gets me thinking!
As a worship leader, there are so many styles you can write and perform in, and Meredith’s use of so many genres give the album a big edge. The pop CCM guitar driven sound of “Start With Me”, is where Meredith powerfully cries out to God and asks Him to change us from the inside out and make us the people He wants us to be, so that we can be used for the Kingdom for His glory, while we are continually changed from the inside out. As Meredith points out the song is a declaration to ask God to move in us even when on our worst days- “…We can always say, ‘Well that needs to always change’ and we can point fingers. We need to ask ‘Lord change me first. Start with me here and let it just kind of flow out. Use my life and help me to love people that you put in my path the way that you love them.’…”.
The piano centred “All I Ask”, in contrast, is a slow paced reverent piano piece, where Meredith emotionally sings about how God is the only one we want and need for us to be fulfilled. The lack of instruments, in fact, gives the captivating prayer a distinct edge. The serene and calm ballad is a great lead in to the anthemic “Burn Away”- a synth and piano prominent song that builds into something that could have come out of a soundtrack for a movie. Singing about surrendering to God and asking Him to burn everything away so that our eyes and our attention can be solely fixed on Him, as He is the Maker of everything; the earnest honesty and emotion from Meredith mixed with the big grand epic orchestral movement feel from the use of the instruments, creates a brilliant track going into the last part of the album.
The great thing about this album is that while there are many different styles and genres in this 11 track powerful musical journey, Meredith has cleverly ordered the songs in such a fashion that there is a sense of order- Pop/rock song first followed by worship focused and quieter ballads, and the later part of the list containing the epic and anthemic tracks that make me feel as if I am reliving God-moments from Music Inspired By The Story. While nothing can compare to those songs at all (maybe something in 100 years or so…), “Your Kingdom Reigns” and “Wonder Of Wonders” are in that same category of songs that were written 100% of God’s doing. I mean, sure Meredith and others put pen to paper, but on these particular tracks, and also on “The Gospel Changes Everything”, it was truly God at work. “Your Kingdom Reigns” is about how God is constant, never changing, and ‘…You are our portion, our promises, forever Your kingdom reigns….’; the drums and use of the guitars giving the sound a other-worldly and heavenly vibe. And I agree whole-heartedly with Meredith on the bridge- “…When you get to the bridge, that’s my favorite part. It’s like that fist pump moment…”! “Wonder Of Wonders” starts off sounding very hymn like in the verses and appears to be very stripped back and acoustic, with the use of light electric guitar and keys in the beginning, while Meredith praises God for who He is, that He is the wonder of wonders and also ‘…God of the ages, all of creation it beats with Your heart…’. Yet it’s at the bridge where the song truly takes off, and becomes something special, as I once again marvel at Meredith’s ability to lead worship and people into communion with God!
We are brought back down to earth with a piano only track “The Gospel Changes Everything”; and this is the most personal and honest song on the record. Singing about the gospel and what it means to be a Christian, this track has a pretty cool story about it: “…We started telling stories about how we had seen just the purity of the gospel, the truth of the gospel transform people’s lives…we were just telling story after story. The truth and the beauty of the gospel is enough. It doesn’t need any additions or subtractions. It just needs to be told as it is. The gospel changes everything. It is the turning point in history. Even now it’s changing me from who I was. When I sing it, I cry because it’s the simple truth and that’s all you need. It changes you forever. So that’s my favorite song…”. What more can you say after reading that? Jesus is the answer to everything, and when we accept and believe that with all of us, our lives will indeed be changed!
The final song “Pieces”, a fitting pop/rock/CCM track as the album closer, once again explores how we can ask and request anything of Jesus, because He is faithful and always keeps his promises due to the nature of His love for each one of us. We can ‘…give Him [our] wounds, your bruised and broken pieces, all your questions, all your secrets, you don’t have to hide who you are, you belong to someone greater than all your past mistakes and failures, rest in who He is, He knows how to make your pieces fit…’. What a great song of reassurance and comfort, and a perfect way to round up a stellar and brilliant effort from Meredith!
“…When I think of other [people]…listening to these songs, I just hope that whether they are at home with their kids or in the car driving to soccer practice or whatever that even just for three minutes, they can sense the presence of the Lord and God’s love for them. We need that recharge. We need to get plugged into the source and have that time with the Lord. That’s my prayer in all this…”- Meredith Andrews’ 3rd album Worth It All has truly been, in my opinion, worth the 3 year wait. I think Meredith’s writing and singing is as good as it has ever been, and I believe that Meredith is sure to improve in the many years to come. One of my favourite albums of 2013 so far, I don’t see how Meredith’s new album will slip away from my top 10 releases, in fact I fully expect it to be there come 11 months’ time. As Meredith’s release is the first album to be distributed by the newly created Word Worship; what better way to kick start a label than with an album you can listen to again and again? Well done Meredith, I’ll definitely be buying a physical copy of this!
- Open Up The Heavens (3:54)
- Not For A Moment (4:01)
- Strong God (5:44)
- Start With Me (3:58)
- Worth It All (4:57)
- All I Ask (4:19)
- Burn Away (5:36)
- Your Kingdom Reigns (4:35)
- Wonder Of Wonder (4:31)
- The Gospel Changes Everything (4:49)
- Pieces (3:16)