Twin Inspiration: Bianca and Chiara D’Ambrosio

onmyownWhat’s better than inspiring girls that share a great message in a beautiful way?! We were so excited to learn about Bianca and Chiara D’Ambrosio and their fabulous song “On My Own.” We had to chat with these lovely ladies to find out more about them and their careers in entertainment!

Check out their music video…

R: Tell us about yourself and how you got in the entertainment business?

Bianca: Well we are twins; I’m older by 2 minutes. We have lived in Los Angeles our whole life.

Chiara: We got into the entertainment business, when a casting agent saw us in our stroller in Malibu and told our mom that we should audition for some roles. 3 weeks later, we were cast as Summer Newman on the Young and the Restless.

R: You have been in many TV Shows and Movies? Tell us a little about them and which one has been your all-time favorite so far?

Chiara: We loved the Young and the Restless, but we were a little too young and probably too restless to really appreciate the experience. Parks and Recreations was really cool. We worked with the super funny Jim Jeffries on legit.

Bianca: I loved working on Criminal Minds. We really loved working on See Dad Run with Scott Baio & Ryan Newman. It was fun working on the Jeselnik Offensive because I got to show that I could do improv.

C: We really loved working with Ray Wise, who played our grandfather in Reflections. We recently shot a pilot that we are hoping gets picked up.

R: If you could work with any five actors and/or actresses who would that be?

Bianca & Chiara: Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston, Laura Marano & Dove Cameron

R: Tell us a little bit about your up and coming EP and when should it be out?

Bianca: Our self-titled EP was release on 09/23/2014. It’s six songs about relationships and things we believe in. Our video “Let your Light Shine”, our anti bullying anthem has 1.5 million hits on youtube.

Chiara: “Package Deal” is about the relationship between the two of us. “Best Friend” is about our rescue dog Max. “On Our Own” is about the inner strength that we all have.

R: where can people get your music?

Chiara: ITunes, Amazon, Spotify. You can get our music in other outlets.

R: Tell us about the “Let Your Light Shine” T-Shirt and where can you get it?

B: Our antibullying t-shirt can be found on our website, dambrosiotwins.com

R: Tell us about the Seth Walsh Foundation, and how did you get involved with this Charity?

C: Seth Walsh was a young man that took his life after relentless bullying. What happened to him is just so wrong the question should not be why we got involved, but why aren’t more people taking a stand against bullying.

R: What is the best part about being a twin?

C: You might think having someone with you all the time isn’t great, but having constant companion a best friend, who can share everything with you is the greatest thing you can have. But, actually it’s so we can wear each others’ clothes.

R: What are you future goals?

B: We want to stay in the entertainment business, continue our acting and keep making music. Maybe someday I can even be a director.

R: What advice would you give someone who wanted to be an actress and/or singer?

B: Take classes in music and acting. Get vocal coaching and work on your “stuff”. Never give up on your dreams.

R: Who has been your biggest influence so far?

C: I have to say our parents; they work hard and never give up on helping our dreams come true.

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

B: Is this your twin sister? Are you twins?

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

C: We are 100% from Italian heritage, we come from a large family, we love to ski and play tennis. We cry every time there is a dog commercial for the ASPCA. We love animals so much.

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and where can people find you?

B: We’re on Twitter, @Dambrosiotwins, Instagram, @Dambrosiotwinz

C: Our website is dambrosio.com, Youtube is, Dambrosiotwins and our Facebook is Bianca and Chiara D’Ambrosio.

R: Is there anything else you would like to add, or say to your fans?

B: We want to thank our fans for all their love and support and hope they enjoy the journey with us.

 

Peter Furler Christmas (featuring David Ian)

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins
peter furlerThis might be one of my shorter reviews, but my wish this Christmas is to share this and bring awareness that this album is available.  In general, I don’t care for Christmas music.  Retailers have ruined the genre, and the cheesiness (and trust me, I like cheese, so don’t think I have no sense of humor) of it all has taken the attention off of what matters.  For every album like this available, there are hundreds that make me roll my eyes and groan in annoyance.  So it goes with life in general, though, and that truth only makes the special things all that much more precious.

Peter teamed up with David Ian, a jazz musician who produces and arranges music, to create what might be tagged as both vintage and absolutely timeless.  The beauty of this album is how I will love this in thirty years as much as I do right now, but I can also appreciate that listeners hundreds of years ago would embrace it as well.  Past or future, it doesn’t matter, this album stands the test of time because it rests on the purest of the carols, and it rests on the delivery of Jesus and what He means to the world.

For Peter, he had clear intentions in creating the album, “We had in mind for this music to be played while listeners engage in their favorite Christmas traditions, enjoying a warm fire, a quiet dinner party, watching the snow gently fall outside.” David Ian did as well; “I wanted to set this collection apart and create a sound that brings the sacred to light.  We deliberately wanted to bring new life to Christmas songs that are often overlooked.”  Both missions are accomplished.

Beautifully.

For me, I wanted nothing more than to sit in a candlelit room and listen to this.  For a majority of the time I listened, though, I wasn’t; it was on in the background as I worked, or ironically, it played in my car as I maneuvered through holiday traffic.  But the serenity and peace that buoyed up within me as I thought about the lyrics, though, could not be suppressed.  For songs I have heard a hundred times, phrases jumped out at me as if I had heard them for the first time, and I was transfixed as the busyness of life and what I was in the midst of doing lost its chaos and relevance.

 

I refuse to spoon feed you my favorite parts and challenge you to discover your own.  Set aside half an hour’s worth of time to sit in a quiet place, turn on the Christmas lights, and listen.  Meditate on the lyrics.  Ponder what it all means to you, and how different your life would be if God hadn’t sent His son.  The important aspects of this holiday season, and all year long, really, will be brought back into proper perspective.  It is gorgeous and timeless and relevant, all at the same time.

 

For more information, please visit www.peterfurler.com and be sure to download a copy today.

Everfound: Resolution

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

everfound: resolutionI love that a resolution is the entering of new ways, an adieu to the old.  Jesus is exactly that; an entrance of freedom from our sin and the end of slavery to our old ways.  Everfound’s new Christmas CD celebrates that freedom with fresh sounds; electronic tunes mixed with a little rock and a little pop, but no matter the genre, these guys, originally from Russia, season December with celebration and pure joy.  “Carol of the Bells” is fantastic, a great intro to what they can do with a contagious beat, while “I Want Christmas Back” displays what they can do lyrically, wishing for a Christmas full of peace and hope rather than laden with chaos and earthly distraction, while “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and “Silent Night” reveals what they can do vocally.  It might be “Silent Night” that was my favorite; a familiar tune was made newly enjoyable, and the inclusion of Everfound’s native tongue only added to the experience.  The song is a journey, full of wonderment and awe at the discovery, and something foreign to me took the song from something introspective and personal to a much bigger picture and revelation:  I share Jesus with millions of others who revel as I do at His majesty.  I resolve to keep listening to Everfound…and that might be the easiest kept resolution I have ever made.  Keep reading to learn a little more about this band and what this Christmas EP means to them.

Relate:  First memory of music:

Nikita:  My very first memory of music is of my dad playing old tapes on this doubled cassette player that was seriously at least a quarter of our wall in our kitchen back in Russia. After that I would say it’s playing classical music on the piano when we were kids.

 

R:  Name one song you wish you had written and why:

N:  Is it okay if I name two? Since it’s Christmas, I would’ve loved to have written “White Christmas”. It’s just an incredible song. Of all time though, I wish I wrote “Amazing Grace.”

 

R:  Why did you want to record a Christmas EP?  How is Resolution different from other Christmas albums that have already been recorded?

N:  We wanted to record a Christmas EP because we love Christmas time, Christmas music and we also have an annual Christmas tour called Rock the Halls Tour. Our Christmas album is different than other Christmas albums because it’s ours, we’ve never released Christmas music before, and I believe every person sees the world differently. So I don’t think anyone else has the same perspective, especially given our Russian background.

 

R:  What resolution have you kept the longest and how did you make it last longer than a day or two?

N:  I think the resolution I have personally kept the longest was reading the Bible every day. I think I kept it up for several months and I was really excited about that.

 

R:  Favorite Christmas tradition and how is it different or similar to the way they celebrate Christmas in Russia?

N:  One of my favorite things about Christmas traditions is the time when our family gets together to sing Russian Christmas carols by the Christmas tree. I think American families have similar traditions, where the family gets together to do something special. The singing in Russian part is always really neat to me. My parents break out in harmonies with my grandma, it’s the most beautiful thing ever.

 

R:  Favorite Christmas treat?

N:  I’ve discovered the Starbucks peppermint mocha to be absolutely delicious. So if anyone ever wants to bring me some to a show, I will personally thank that person off stage.

 

R:  What is the best gift you ever gave someone?

N:  The best gift that I ever gave someone? That’s a really hard question!  I remember the worst really well, but the best hmm…I remember my brothers and I got my grandmother an automatic car starter for the cold days. She lives in Colorado so gets pretty cold out there. She loved it. She now starts her car and let’s it warm up from her window, I think that’s probably one of the best gifts I’ve given to someone.

 

R:  The holidays are usually the time when the most people are depressed.  What Bible verse would you give them to provide some encouragement/hope?

N:  I agree that often times the holidays are very difficult times for people. Our own family has gone through this. That’s why we wrote a song on our Christmas album that says “I Want Christmas Back.” But the truth is no matter how bleak our situation may seem, God promises to give us unconditional love and hope in Christ Jesus. Through the difficulties of the holidays, I often dare myself to focus on Jesus. In the following verse out of Luke, God says that he’s sending his peace to those with whom he is pleased. And we know that if we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, God is pleased with us.

 

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”(Luke 2:12-14)

 

Please visit www.everfoundmusic.com for more information, and be sure to download Resolution and other Everfound albums on iTunes.

Thousand Foot Krutch: Oxygen: Inhale

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins
Thousand Foot KriutchIn a favorite Gilmore Girls episode, Loralei takes Rory on a road trip to escape her life, and they flip through radio stations for some good tunes.  In true Loralei fashion, she makes a sarcastic quip about Christian Rock music being…ironic.  I refuse to go off on a defensive tangent about how much I love that show, but I will say I abhor that comment.  Because what Loralei, and so many others, fail to understand, is God made ALL music.  There are probably genres out there we haven’t even thought of, so to think there is one genre out there, composed by us mere mortals, is ludicrous.  And even if some secular musicians have made a mess of the art, the good news God can redeem anything.  Thousand Foot Krutch does just that for the category of “Christian Rock.”  I wonder often while listening to them if “rock” was made just for guys like these, musicians who have so much energy nothing else could contain it all, but they proclaim in the track “Born This Way” “I’d rather create than follow.”  And indeed they do.  Not an ounce of irony to be found.

Oxygen: Inhale is all about living a passionate life for God.  Light and fire are common themes, found most easily in “Set Me On Fire” and “Light it Up,” and then shedding a bluesy and slower hue on it all with the closer, and my personal favorite, “Glow.”  Repeatedly, and artistically, they make their prominent desire known:  to let God’s light shine in them, eradicating their weakness.  While they yearn for more passion (as if they could use more) or focus, they also realize life isn’t life at all without His presence.  Which leads to the overall them of God being the motivator, the inspiration, the breath, if you will, of life at all, known here as “Oxygen.”

While all this is reoccurring themes in every Christian’s life, something we have to learn over and over as trials and our fallen world sometimes distract us, TFK has this amazing ability to empathize with the brand new believer.  “In My Room” sheds the vigor and replaces it all with a humbling humility; that moment we all have where we not only recognize, but act on, that impulse to reach out to the Higher Power.  For those of us who have been believers for awhile, the song takes us right back to that moment where we felt insignificant and amazed that we could be heard and that we are cared about.  The message that He meets us where we are, no matter how dubious, how broken, how guarded we may be pulses from every lyric and every chord.  This is the first step we all need to take, and they capture the moment beautifully.  For those who have yet to pursue a walk with Christ, this song is for them.

Oxygen: Inhale is a deep breath of pure rock awesomeness, but is also a record of personal simplicity and honesty.  Every cell of our being yearns for a relationship with the one who Created us, the one who loves us more than any other.  This album does a fantastic job of expressing that need.  For more information, please visit www.thousandfootkrutch.com and be sure to download the album today.

for King and Country: Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins
forKingandCountryI’m really late on jumping on the “I love for King and Country” bandwagon.  I generally don’t follow the trends, and when they released their debut, I ignored it.  Completely.  Ignorantly, I assumed they were, well, country, and I wasn’t interested at the time. Bands come and go, and I didn’t want to add another band to the roster that was more of the same.

Boy, I can be so stupid sometimes.  I really stand in my own way sometimes, with all my assumptions and judgements.  Ever done that?

I digress.  Anyway, I’m on this for King and Country bandwagon now; I’m completely sold.  The first time I listened to them, I kept discovering my mouth was open in disbelief.  Because they aren’t like anyone else. Perhaps there is a little Imagine Dragons in there.  Or a little City Harmonic.  But then they throw in a little rap in there, or they deliver this love ballad secular artists would envy, and I realize they are completely and utterly themselves.  Comparisons only limit them, and that is as unfair as me assuming they would be boring.

I’ll start at the end.  As in their last song on the album “O God Forgive Us.”  The simplicity reveals who they are, and the spoken word at the end that defines the album and their love.  It’s crazy to me that I spent half my life thinking being saved was all about the afterlife, but really, it is a call to live well here, while we have the time.  Don’t make this mistake as I have-listen to this last track in its entirety and live the rest of your life chasing down the challenge they present.  It will redefine you.  It will change the world.

I’m not kidding.

But back to the music. They touch on some familiar themes such as breaking free from past regrets, forgiveness really, or the encouragement to pursue dreams, even ones that might be slightly damaged.  I often listen to songs for one particular phrase, usually the crescendo in the bridge near the end of the track that I simply want to hear again and again.  On a typical album, there might be one or two of these phrases, but this album has one in almost every song.  My favorites?  “To the Dreamers,” a song about perseverance and hope, a song to the ones who can’t let go, climaxes with the simple phrase, “I believe, I believe, I believe.”  It’s about holding on to truth, knowing something incredible will be unveiled because a smidgeon of amazing has already been tasted.  “Matter” is another one, a song about someone feeling unloved, unwanted…failed, comforts like no other when they actually encourage the shedding of tears “so let the water spill from your eyes…all that you are, all that you’ll be, someone put the beat in your heart so you’ll see…you matter.”  The song soars with encouragement.  Or, there’s the song, “Long Live,” the one about walking to the beat of a different drummer, it’s not just a simple phrase I can’t get enough of.  It is the entire song.  Or the song, “Already Home” with the phrase, “Just look up and you’ll know you’re already home.”  The building intensity of this song, and so many others, bring me to my knees.

This is the second album I’ve reviewed this year that had lyrics penned in the midst of serious illness.  It is interesting how what we truly value surfaces in the most difficult moments.  For them (as it should be for us, as well), it is love, and they can write a love song as well as they write inspirational ones.  Whether they are songs of worship or praise to our Creator or to a loved one, they are equally beautiful and incredibly whole.

2014 has been amazing as far as albums Christian album releases are concerned; with Jake Hamilton and Switchfoot, About a Mile, Colton Dixon, Needtobreathe to name a few, but this album, musically and lyrically, is my favorite.  It is absolutely golden, and while I adore that they are getting so much airplay since they deserve to be heard, don’t become immune or desensitized to how amazing this collection of songs really is.  Run Wild.  Live Free. Love Strong. is meant to be savored, pondered, and taken to heart.  Music like this can change a life.

I’m still not kidding.

For more information, please visit www.forkingandcountry.com, and yes, I’m asking you to join me on this bandwagon and download the album today.

 

Tori Harris: Sweet Dolor-EP

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins
Tori HarrisI recently did an interview with Tori, and I knew immediately I wanted to write a review for the new music as well.  But I struggled to write this; it didn’t seem to me that I was adding much more insight to the five song set than Tori did in the interview itself.  And so I considered not submitting this review at all; I didn’t want to be redundant.  But, I decided that there can’t be enough exposure to this charming songwriter.  Even if it’s only one reader that discovers this article that hadn’t yet read the interview, and decides to take a listen, then it’s worth it.  And then there is always the possibility that readers already read the interview, but they didn’t listen for whatever reason, and decide to download a tune, just to find out what all my yammering on is about.  Yes, my friends, sometimes persistence is everything…

Truly, Tori’s second EP is fresher and even more compelling than her first.  Sometimes reminding me of Mandy Moore, other times reminding me Leslie Jordan of All Sons and Daughters, Tori does a terrific job of delivering songs ready for church worship or contemporary Christian radio and making them into earworms that won’t give me a break.  The most fortunate thing about this problem is her words often finds their way into my heart and into my prayers.

“Less of Me” is her favorite, according to our interview, and it is mine, too.  “I’m small, and I’m fragile, and I’m empty” is one of my favorite lines because I often feel so insignificant, but as diminished as I may feel, it provides an opportunity for God’s beauty to shine even greater.  As we grow with Christ, the need to extract our wants and replace them with God’s is vital for the union, but as difficult as it may be, His vision for our life is so much more beautiful than anything we could paint for ourselves.  “Lay Me Down” explores this struggle of release in much the same way, and both songs are fervent plea to truly become a daughter of Christ.

“King of Kings” is a worship song at it’s best; I adore the guitar solo in this song, and even better, I love the homage to the church.  To find a church where you are inspired to grow in your faith and grow with a community of believers who have the same beliefs, is beautiful, and it’s vital for a relationship with Jesus.  We are the bride of Christ, and this song gets me so excited that I can raise my hands up with fellow believers and sing to my Savior without shame.

“Fields of Gold” is about loss, and finding that the loss isn’t permanent.  It’s such a beautiful song.  And it is “Heart of Stone” that gives the album an upbeat, folk appeal, but it is the story of transformation and rebirth that comes through loving Christ that all the songs hinge upon.  It really is about the relationship with Him that makes life as incredible as He intended it to be.  It’s never about what we give up to be a Christian, it is all that we gain because Jesus gave His life.  Sweet Dolor, indeed.

For more information, please visit www.toriharris.com and download the EP, Sweet Dolor, today.

 

 

Bae Kuang: These Darling Wings

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins
bae kuangI loved Bae’s voice from the very first moment, one of those rare finds that I am instantly infatuated with.  Her voice has a clarity that I love, with it brings an honesty and purity that tells me there’s nothing hidden and nothing contrived.  It is almost as if Bae is merely a vessel that transports the music from her soul into a world waiting to hear it.

“These Darling Wings,” the song for which the EP is named, is genreless, it crosses too many “boundaries,” and I think that’s a good thing.  I enjoyed the pop sensibilities, making me immediately comfortable enough to listen to a “jazz” album when I may be intimidated by a style I really know little about.  I also loved the drama of the music and the dreaminess of the lyrics.  The absolute best part of the song?  “Maybe I might lose a couple/Maybe more than that/And even then I won’t put up these darling wings for sale.”  It’s acknowledging the risk but deciding the pursuit of the dream is worth it, and I adore that.

And while I will always and forever be a lyrics person, I loved the flirtiness and the hope infused in the song, “Some Other Day.”  Simply reading the lyrics, I saw this love story of a boy and a girl going all wrong because of games played, and poor timing, but the music added an element of content longing, taking the melancholy out of wistfulness.  Possibility seeps from this song, even if the past history sounds bleak.  Hope truly is soaring on the wings and the music from this track.

“Such a Fool” is such a fun song, a relatable one every girl on the planet can identify with as infatuation and love makes us so clumsy and awkward, and…painfully honest.  “China Doll” is also as equally relatable for most girls; that feeling of being ignored and unappreciated plagues us all sometimes, and this is the one song where the verge of heartbreak truly mingles between both the lyrics and the music.

These Darling Wings, the album, was truly love at first sight.  I love the fact that I listened to an album I wouldn’t have chosen on my own and discovered a sincere appreciation for a musician that breaks down boundaries for me.  With her open heart, pristine vocals, and optimism, I realized music is only a vehicle that displays all the ways we are the same and are not so different at all.

Please visit www.baekuang.com for more information and download These Darling Wings at your earliest convenience.

 

 

Chit Chatting with Singer Nick Lokken

Written by:  Jill Sheets

 

Nick LokkenRecently, I had the honor of interviewing singer Nick Lokken.  Continue to read on about him, his music and what bands he listens to.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the music industry?

N: I am currently 22 years old, living in the great state of Texas, and I am in love with the beach! In May of 2012 I committed myself to Christ and to God’s will. I asked the infamous question after getting saved, “What now God?!” The reply I got was incredible. He said to me, “Use your passion to help build the kingdom of God.” So I just began writing more and more songs and up opened all of these doors to play them. It was definitely a God thing.

 

R: Tell our readers about your album “Life Is Good”

N: “Life Is Good” is really personal to me. These were all of the first songs that I wrote growing up, so a lot of them are either about the girl that I was dating at the time, or the beach.

 

R: You write your own songs. What is your writing process? Do you start with the words? How do you come up with the idea for your songs?

N: I do write all of my own songs! I find it much more personal when I do this. I really don’t have a writing process. A song usually comes out of me when I am sitting in my living room, playing guitar, and I find a catchy tune. Then I just go with it and try to finish it right then and there (Or it will never get done . (laughs). Usually I write songs after something has happened that causes me to have a lot of emotions.

 

R: Do you have any plans on any up and coming tours?

N: Right now, you will find me playing all over the U.S. at random dates. The best way to see where I’m playing at next is by way of my website, www.nicklokken.com.

 

R: Where can people get you music?

N: iTunes, Amazon, Soundcloud, Revebnation, but if you request a CD personally I usually sign it and mail it to you myself.

 

R: What singers and bands do you listen to?

N: Absolutely in love with Need to Breathe and their new album. John Mayer is an all-time favorite.

 

R: Who has been your biggest influence?

N: I would definitely say my mother. She’s such a Godly woman and will do anything for anybody.

 

R: What are five things you can not live with out?

N: Bible, Guitar, Skateboard, BB Gun, and my dog Gunner.

 

R: What is your favorite memory been so far?

N: Definitely would have to be my childhood Christmases. There was always so much fun, laughter and family.

 

R: Do you have any charities that are close to your heart? If so, tell us about them?

N: The Chosen Tree is a non profit that provides programs and resources for youth at risk of trafficking and abuse. I am great friends with the young woman in charge of this non-profit and she does such an amazing job organizing all of the programs.

 

R: It is not easy being a teenager. What advice would you give them in general?

N: It is hard! I would say, be you! The greatest people in life were leaders, so just don’t ever stress about what other people have to say. Drama free is the best route to go too.

 

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

N: I’ve broken over 10 bones, I would rather live on the coast of Australia, I’d be okay with sleeping in a hammock every night, I played college baseball before music, I am a computer nerd.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

N: Kid: “How are you so tall?” Me: “No idea kid.”

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website?

N: Yes! Twitter @nicklokken Instagram @nicklokken Facebook/nicklokkenmusic and www.nicklokken.com

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

N: As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1

 

R: Nick, thank you for the interview. It was an honor. Have a great day.

N: Thank you! Enjoyed every minute of it!

Francesca Battistelli: If We’re Honest

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

 

francescaIf We’re Honest, Francesca’s third release, is a beautiful effort, passionate and powerful. While the contemporary Christian music scene is overflowing with beautiful voices and positive messages, Francesca’s songs are staples to a modern catalogue. In an interview from February, Francesca said that the album was “deeper lyrically (and) fresher sonically,” and she makes good on those promises. She has created a record that is as instantly appealing as her last two albums, and yet again, creates songs that I want to remember for the darkest of times, to console me with messages that are Biblically based. Her fun spirit and personality add dimension, making the songs relatable; I often find myself smiling at the reflection of myself in her lyrics.

 

I admit, as a writer, I’m going to love any song with the title, “Write Your Story”. I love the concept of being a chosen creation that God dreamed up before I was born, and I know the story of my life will be better with Him in it than it would ever be if I dismissed Him. This is the basic idea of the song, and it sets the tone for the following tracks which give direction and praise for helping to fulfill that beautiful vision of a life. “He Knows My Name” isolates the very center of that idea: He created me, He created you, and He did so with a plan and a purpose. We don’t need anyone else’s attention or approval, just His. “Unusual” is a fun song that expands on that as well; not fitting in to the ways of this world is proof that we are living in the footprints of the life He wants us to live. While others hate, we love; when others tear down, we build up; when others ignore, we stand up and pay attention.

 

“Choose to Love” and “Giants Fall” address my biggest issue: fear. “Choose to Love” is specifically about being afraid to love, and I adore the lyrics, “It’s always a dare/but it’s always a far more dangerous thing to listen to fear.” It’s about reaching out to someone, at the risk of being rejected, and revealing to them God’s love. “Giants Fall” is more about the fear of failure, and knowing that with God’s help, anything is possible.

 

“Run to Jesus” and “Find Rest” are more about finding solace and comfort in His presence; it’s about knowing we aren’t alone. “Hands of God” (featuring Matt Hammitt) and “If We’re Honest” are about relationships. “Hands of God” is a beautiful love song to anyone at all who is an encouragement and supporter, to that person who you feel God has placed in your life to help you get through everything. And “Find Rest” is based on Psalm 62:5 and is about God being the rock; it’s about having hope because God never lets us down.

 

Francesca had declared “If We’re Honest” her favorite song from the album, and again, I have to agree. The first two lines of the chorus speaks for itself: “bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine/’cause love can heal what hurt divides.” Complete transparency brings freedom and healing, and it is a beautiful thing.

 

I read a review on iTunes way back with Francesca’s first album, My Paper Heart, where a young lady asked why so many of Francesca’s songs are about God. She said she loves Francesca’s voice and her music, but she doesn’t believe. My heart broke for this young lady, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I get. It is Francesca’s playfulness on songs like “When the Crazy Kicks In” that can draw anyone in, and it is the openness of songs like “If We’re Honest” that saturate to the soul, softening the hardest of hearts and changing the mindset. It’s very possible that young lady is a believer now because God used Francesca’s music to speak to her about The Truth in the way nothing else could. That’s powerful, and it doesn’t get any better. If We’re Honest will do nothing short of the same.

 

For more information, please visit www.francescamusic.com and be sure to download If We’re Honest today.

The Iveys: Jenna’s Song

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

iveys-jennas songIt’s a good day when I open my mail and an album by The Iveys unexpectedly slides out onto my counter. It doesn’t matter how awful the day was before I opened that envelop; I know it’ll get better as soon as I listen. You know those “Keep Calm and…” signs that are everywhere? One of mine would be “Keep Calm and Listen to The Iveys.” Their beautiful melodies, soothing harmonies, and beautifully crafted songs calm me down and encourage me to focus on all the right things while the distractions fade away.

“Jenna’s Song,” the album’s title track, is about a younger sibling who seems to have the keys to happiness and lovingly shares them with her older brother. “Give it your best/love with no regrets…Listen to the rhythm beating in your chest.” The upbeat track sets the tone of the album, and the theme of love weaves its way through every song. “True Love Honesty,” ‘”Oh Me Oh My,” and “Worth the Danger” share the sentiment that it’s impossible to love too much, and while that honesty makes them vulnerable, their declarations are made with the clear expectation that because they give everything, it will be given back to them in return.

My favorite song, though, a driving track that has a palpable pulse and showcases The Iveys ability to tell an enchanting story (and not just share an emotion), is “Into the Storm.” I long for the courage of the hero, the man who knows he is facing a battle and refuses to turn away from it. If I knew about the trials and tribulations before I jumped into an opportunity, would I still take that leap? Or would I run away from it? I only wish I could be the type of person who takes a deep breath and takes the plunge anyway, knowing I will come out better for it. “Words of Truth” take the idea a step further, wanting truth, no matter what the cost, and to know as the last breath is taken, there is no regrets. It’s the same concept told from the other side; knowing after the trials that it all works out in the end.

To be realistic, The Iveys also look at the possibility of love not being reciprocated. I loved the imagery and symbolism in “Paper Airplanes,” making it my second favorite song on the album. Lyrically, it’s brilliant; it’s one of those songs that didn’t make sense right away, but when I finally did get past my ditziness, I am in love. And then there is the song “Better Man” where a girl who loves with reckless abandonment realizes that not even her love could change him, yet somehow, it changes her as she grapples with reality that it’s over.

The Iveys are like family to me; their values are familiar, their music is exactly what I would want to sound like if I had been blessed enough to have a musical family. But since I don’t sing (and neither does my sib), I’ll gladly settle for this trio that weaves their beliefs and love through songs with lovely voices, gorgeous strings, and wonderful piano. They are so incredibly dependable; their new releases never disappoint me but they never get old, either, for I am always longing for more. But for now, when I really need to chill, and to be reminded how true love really does conquer all, Jenna’s Song (the entire album), will play on.

Please visit www.theiveysmusic.com for more information, and be sure to download Jenna’s Song today.