Although Sound of a Living Heart reaches into fresh sonic territory, long-time listeners of Heller's music will recognize the signature writing style of JJ and her songwriting/performing partner and husband, Dave Heller. Together they meld honest lyrics and vulnerability in their own trademark style.
"I'm a recovering perfectionist," Heller says with a laugh, "but I'm learning to press into the discomfort and messiness of life. I know I'm going to make mistakes and experience pain, but God is always there to put the pieces back together." Sound of a Living Heart is JJ's invitation to journey with her through life's less-than-perfect times.
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Making Your Heart Sing| Posted August 24, 2015
JJ Heller's new album Sound of a Living Heart is available everywhere August 21. JJ's trademark ability to be transparent and vulnerable resonates throughout this spectacular new album, JJ's best overall album. The 11 new songs will make your heart sing. Painted Red, When I'm With You and Loved have been in heavy rotation for me since they released and they have each featured standout songs like "Your Hands," "What Love Really Means," and "Who You Are."
This album opens with "Let Down Your Guard," which is one of several stand-out songs on this album. You'll be singing along as JJ belts out, "let down your guard, I will never hurt you, let down your guard, no matter what you've been through, I will always love you."
"The Well" is a gospel-tinged and gospel-choir backed prayer song, layered musically in a powerful fashion as the song builds to the emotional and vertical proclamation: "I should have been chasing You! You are, You are the well, You are the well that never runs dry." Amen to that.
"Fully Known" is a transparent, vulnerable and moving prayer-song. JJ's breathtaking lyrics "Does anyone see you? Does anyone care? Does anyone know your name? Could anyone love you if anyone knew who you really are? You are fully known by the Author of space and time, He won't let you go, and you cannot change His mind" brings me to tears as I pray along with her during the song. The bridge, "All of the Words He's spoken are true," is a gorgeous faith-statement to the Author and Perfecter of faith.
Everyone can really relate to the sincerity and sensitivity of JJ Heller's emotional songs. I can't get enough of the catchy and sincere "Meant to Be" in the style of "Boat Song," sung to her husband Dave. It includes the great lyrics "When God made you, He already knew, that we were meant to be." What's so relatable is how JJ's "relationship" songs are relevant for everyone, but especially if you know Jesus, then you know the ultimate answer to the quest for love can only be found in Him.
No song better displays that emotion than "Father-Daughter Dance" sung as a duet with "Lead Me" singer Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real. The song includes the extremely moving description of a daughter desiring a dance with her Daddy, who is "not around, because he's locked in a jail on the outskirts of town." Both father and daughter ultimately find redemption in knowing and being known by our Father in Heaven as gorgeously sung by Hammitt in the lyrics: "Dear Jesus, my girl needs her Dad around, not locked in a jail on the outskirts of town... I don't want to let her down, help me turn my life around, because my girl needs her dad around." The song is moving and beautiful.
JJ passionately sings "No more comparisons... When we lay our weapons down, when we speak the truth out loud, when we're slow to judge and quick to love," in "Holy Ground," one of many times this album causes tears to flow as I worship along with JJ in Spirit and in Truth. Have tissues handy as you listen to "Daylight," as JJ beautifully sings "You heal the disease I was dying of, there is an inch of daylight underneath the door, it is enough for me to fill up my canteen... if I want to live, Your love is what I need." No matter what you are going through in life, God's promise to His children is that you are loved. God is love. That biblical truth is profoundly captured on Sound of a Living Heart.
JJ Heller's vocals will soothe your soul, and several songs have vertical lyrics which will direct your attention and focus on Jesus. This is a very worshipful album. JJ has blessed listeners by writing and singing such piercing and moving songs. There are several personal songs that melt my heart. I have to fight back tears while listening to several of the songs, especially "Let Down Your Guard," "Meant to Be," "Father-Daughter Dance," "Holy Ground," "Daylight" and "Sound of a Living Heart." The new worshipful songs "The Well," "Fully Known," and "Scarlet Thread" are not to be missed.
If you liked the recent "gourmet" worshipful albums by Audrey Assad and Ellie Holcomb, then you must pick up Sound of a Living Heart by JJ Heller. JJ's remarkable singing voice and her interesting music and lyrics are truly captivating. What's especially cool about this album is how JJ invites listeners into her life by sharing what's on her heart and reflecting on life and faith issues with every single note. This album is JJ Heller's crowning achievement. It is flawless, and you'll hang on every word she emotionally sings.
Song to Download Now:
"Fully Known" (Get it on iTunes here.)
Big Heart, Beautiful Sounds| Posted August 21, 2015
Known for her honest and poetic writing style, CCM sweetheart JJ Heller's songs are well-embraced vulnerable journal entries into the music world. Always striving to tell a story with her unique voice, JJ's music is something of increasingly rare value born from hard work and relentless effort. With multiple albums, several charting singles and successful tours, and even a Kickstarter project that produced a children's book and a lullaby record behind them, it's an exciting time for JJ and her husband Dave as they explore a regenerated sound with her newest release, Sound Of A Living Heart. The ninth studio album captures well Heller's heart, bringing a different feel to the music we've previously loved from her.
The evolution in sound— a welcomed pop-driven change— is evident from the beginning of "Let Down Your Guard" and plays out throughout the rest of the album. JJ's soft and delicate yet bold and soulful voice is put on display for tracks "The Well," "Daylight" and "Silence." If you're anything like me, "Fully Known" will grab your attention from the opening seconds, but by the time the chorus comes to life, you'll know it's a song sure to stay on repeat.
Fans who follow her on social media will recognize a few songs from videos JJ posted earlier this year when she and Dave first wrote them: "Meant To Be," an adorable love song with an even more adorable music video, and "Father-Daughter Dance," a touching duet with Sanctus Real's Matt Hammitt that shows off JJ's remarkable ability to write beautiful but unusual songs from real-life stories. The song is guaranteed to make you shed a few tears. Most notable on the list of previously heard songs is "This Year (Happy New Year)," which first appeared on Heller's Facebook page on New Year's Day and was met with overwhelming positive response from listeners.
"Holy Ground" offers a bubbly sound and well-written message of peace: "when we lay our weapons down / when we speak the truth out loud / when we're slow to judge and quick to love, we'll be standing on holy ground." "Scarlet Thread" also offers thoughtful songwriting as JJ sings about God holding us together when everything comes undone. The album ends with the title track, a truly outstanding moment on the record that sums up JJ's desire to be vulnerable and authentic with her life and her pain.
There are so many elements that make Sound Of A Living Heart the remarkable effort that it is, but more than anything, I'm still blown away by JJ's songwriting skills that beautifully tell stories while encouraging listeners. Sonically, the change in this album is incredible, and while it's a different feel than we're used to, it's definitely a good change. Personally, I'm a big fan of how this album turned out, and an even bigger fan of the direction JJ's music seems to be heading. Sound Of A Living Heart proves to be a success for the Heller crew and is sure to be met with fan approval.
Song To Download Now:
"Fully Known" (Get it on iTunes here.)