|This Album is One You Need | Posted October 10, 2011
After a short break from recording, Shane Barnard and Shane Everett are back with their latest record, The One You Need. Life has taken a new direction for the Shanes. No longer touring heavily, they are now rooted to a home base and local church in Dallas, where they lead worship and teach music classes--Barnard teaches songwriting, while Everett focuses on the technical aspects.
The men have made a conscious effort to shift their focus and simplify their ministry in order to be attentive to their families and present in their community. As part of their new direction, Shane & Shane have partnered with their new label, Fair Trade Services (MercyMe, The Afters, Laura Story), to create an entirely self-written, self-produced project.
It's obvious from the first track that this is a different Shane & Shane album. "Liberty"--which opens with stomps, percussive beats, and rhythmic guitars--is a rollicking, raw, high-energy tune that would be right at home on a NEEDTOBREATHE record. Lyrically, the song starts with a scripture verse from 2 Corinthians 3:17: "The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is [now], there is liberty." Since Christ's sacrifice allows the Spirit of the Lord to live within us, the guys marry the first scripture verse to a Galatians 5:1-inspired bridge, which begins with "for freedom, you set me free." It then launches into a celebratory romp like no other, with the Shanes passionately declaring, "Yes am I free indeed! You rewrote my name, unshackled my shame; You opened my eyes to see...I am free."
It's worth noting that the song, which celebrates freedom in Christ and life in the Spirit (Romans 8), breaks free from its own musical confines for a loose interval that tells the story of the crucifixion and ends with free-form, gospel-style shouting and singing of "It is done!" and "I am free!" This section builds to a false ending before returning to the tune's sing-along, stomping, clapping refrain. "Liberty" is the highlight of the record, and Shane & Shane throw themselves into the performance with unbridled energy and a sound that perfectly captures the emotions we feel when Jesus frees us from the burdens and bondage of our spiritual chains.
Shane & Shane quickly shift gears for "Your Love." This tender, introspective song is sung by a grateful recipient of God's mercy and unfailing love. The central lyric speaks of God's power to break us apart and transform us, and how this divine transformation frees us from fear and doubt: "Your love tears me up and when it's done, puts me together. Your love calls me out of my doubt and my failure."
Once we experience His love, our lives are changed. And from that moment, we don't want to live apart from God, so it's fitting that the next track, "Without You," touches on this fact. It depicts a prayerful follower crying out to God: "Here I am. I'm calling out, Father. Can you hear me? Can you hear me? I don't want to go without you." This shows the fear and uncertainty we all have at times. Though we know that God strengthens us, and we understand, by faith, that He is with us, we want to be reassured. We cry out in prayer and ask God to make His presence felt: "Here I am. Can you talk a little louder? So I can hear you? I wanna hear you! I don't want to move without you."
"Future Version" is a funky little tune with a Hammond B-3 organ and a '70s sound that feels inspired by Stevie Wonder. Fans of Chris August will like this song, which discusses our constant legalistic struggle--our efforts to try to win God's love and approval. The narrator talks about improving himself: "Maybe a future version of me, you'll love... I'm trying to change into a future version you can embrace"
Luckily, as God reminds us in the song, nothing can separate us from Jesus' love: "You are loved, regardless of the things you've said and done. No mistake can change my mind. Come, seek, and find. My love is yours, right now." Did I mention the song is funky? It segues into a jazzy, bossa-nova-like section before later resuming the familiar groove. By the end, the spiritual striver, now confident in God's promise, repeats the words himself: "I am loved, regardless of the things I've said and done...."
This is a process we all go through. We struggle and doubt, God gently reminds us of His love, and eventually the message of grace sinks in. Grace is so illogical to us! It turns us upside-down! So we continually need to be reminded that even though it doesn't make any sense, God loves us in spite of our flaws. When our chase for perfection blinds us to the meaning of grace, this song will serve as the friendly nudge we need.
"Because He's God" is another of the album's standout tracks. It's written as God's answer to a seeker asking, "How do ya get to Heaven?" God's response: "There's a way to go, an open door for the human soul. You can come today. Jesus is the way. He's my only Son. He's the one I love, and I gave Him up for you to be saved. Jesus is the way."
The song talks about the two roads we are faced with and the need for personal decision in our lives here on Earth. While the wider road may be tempting and sometimes easier, only one path leads to salvation: Jesus is the way. This is a good lead-in to the title track, "The One You Need." The most personal composition on the CD, the song was started by Shane Barnard a week before the birth of Lucy, his daughter with wife Bethany Dillon. Shane Everett, who has two girls of his own, later helped Barnard finish the song. The duo put to music a father's prayer for his daughter, an earnest hope that she'll grow up to have Jesus in her heart. The father sings, "I wish that I could be your everything...Sometimes I'm gonna let you down. But there's someone if you just believe. He'll be your hero like He's always been for me. Darling, Jesus is the One you need." Though the song is written as a gift from father to daughter, it will be a sure comfort to any who may need God to father them. It's a reminder that we are all children of God.
"Miracle" is similar to "Without You." It's another prayer, another crying out to God. A weary soul is asking for a miracle, but not the kind you think. We read about miracles, but in our doubt, we don't feel like we see them in our lives. Shane sings, "I don't need to see a dead man come alive. All I want is You to fill me up inside. I need you, Lord. Even more than the air I breathe. I need you, Lord. Right away." The music supports the lyric perfectly, with a piano melody that echoes the cry, "I need you, Lord." We ask God to come to us, to make His presence felt. In our crying out, God always meets us, and that's the miracle. But more than that, because we tend to look for grand signs, we overlook God's presence in the small things, in every minute of our lives. Every moment we live and breathe is a miracle.
"Victory" is another scripture-inspired tune. In this case it's 1 Corinthians 15:57. The song celebrates the victory we are given by God through Christ. A seeker asks, "What could be great about my life?" The answer: Jesus. Shane & Shane sing: "You make me great. Your steadfast love gives the victory. Oh, Your love has made me great." This song is nearly all chorus, and as such is a great opportunity to sing along in praise.
"I'm Running" follows, and it's one of my favorites. The visual of a follower running to Jesus is perfect because we see people "come running" throughout the Gospels, particularly in Mark, when Jesus walks through towns performing miracles, healing people, and shaking up lives. Suitably, the chorus finds the Christ follower exclaiming: "I'm a dead man raised, a liberated slave. I'm running... to You... my hands are raised. I'm giving everything. And I'm running."
It's 2 Corinthians 12:9 that serves as the backbone of "Grace Is Sufficient." The song has a gospel flavor and the vocals are brimming with emotion. Several vignettes are presented, different scenes that happen in our everyday lives. It's a sequence of "what if" scenarios, little moments of "what are you gonna say to God when..." in which we run to God in prayer, but don't always have the words. God's reply never waivers or varies. "My Grace is Sufficient," He always says, reminding us that He is all we need and He'll carry us through.
The penultimate track, "Lift Up the Light," is my favorite, and sure to be a hit with listeners. Like "Liberty," it takes a couple scriptural verses and combines them. Shane & Shane were involved with the Glory Revealed CD projects which put scripture to song and this is a perfect example of that on their own record. First there is Psalm 4:6: "Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!" Shane Barnard explains that he combined this verse with images inspired by his reading of Revelation (Chapter 21: 23-27). He sings to God: "You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Light up our darkness when the night is upon us. You are the light of the world. Nations will walk by the light of the glory of the Holy God." As the song continues, Shane & Shane ask God to shine His light on us that we might share it with others: "O Holy One, brighter than the sun... You are glorious. Shine Your light on us, 'til Your light in us is seen." This is a perfect worship song and many will be singing along, whether at concerts, through the radio, or in church congregations.
Finally, the album closes with the gentle "Praise Him." You'll notice more scripture, including Psalm 150:6: "Let everything that has breath..." and 1 Chronicles 23:30. The song urges us to praise God in all circumstances, at all times: "Praise Him in the morning when the feeling's gone, praise Him in the evening when you're all alone. Praise Him in the noonday when you're moving along. Praise Him when you have another moment to sing this song. Let the praise roll on." The song is musically the opposite of "Liberty," but together these songs create a perfect beginning and end for the record. While we were brought to our feet at the album's opening, we are brought to our knees at its close. And that's right where we need to be.
Shane & Shane's The One You Need is a scripture-soaked record full of the good news of the Gospel. Musically diverse, there are many styles present and sometimes blended: pop/rock, jazz, folk, worship, and gospel. The songs may not all grab you immediately--they aren't short, catchy pop tunes--and some may be better suited to corporate worship and personal listening than radio. But I think this is what Shane & Shane intended for their new musical direction. Upon repeated listening, these songs get under your skin. And you'll find the record is worth many listens. While the sounds vary, the collective themes connect the songs to form a unified message. As such, the album is appropriately titled, for all songs point to Jesus, the One you need.
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