American Idol alum and vocal powerhouse Danny Gokey is back at it again with his fourth studio album, Rise. The album features it's first single, the hit song, Rise. But Rise not only boasts Gokey's incredible vocal prowers and range, it features his emerging talent as a songwriter. It's never been more evident that Gokey is an artist with much to say, drawing upon the highs and lows of his own life experiences that he shares openly with his fans.
"I wanted to create an album that not only challenged me musically, but that connected with people in an honest and sincere way," said Gokey. "I wanted to use the peaks and valleys of my life's experiences to create a feeling through the music, while conveying a message of optimism through its lyrics. I'm hoping that it resonates with everyone that takes the time to listen."
Drawing from his own experiences with depression and searching for meaning, he assures listeners that hope beckons even in the darkest moments ("Stronger Than We Think"). He acknowledges the social unrest that clouds our world, but points toward the light that lies beyond its reach ("Better Than I Found It"). He promises that no problem is too great to overcome ("The Comeback") and that even those wounded by loneliness can find love ("Symptoms"). All of these messages stem from Gokey's most personal struggles and triumphs. And their power stems from his unique talent as a writer and passion as a vocalist.
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Still Spreading Hope| Posted January 03, 2017
It's been a long but worthwhile road to where Danny Gokey is now. The soulful singer first grabbed the attention of fans when he appeared on season eight of American Idol, finishing third in the competition. Soon after the show, Gokey released his debut country album, but then he seemed to go quiet for a few years. Much to the excitement of fans, he returned to CCM in 2014 with his sophomore album Hope In Front Of Me. The title track exploded at radio and quickly saw major amounts of positive feedback from listeners as they began to share stories of how the song impacted their lives during painful circumstances. Coupled with his own story of loss and heartbreak now turned to redemption and hope, the song was the perfect message to restart Danny's career.
The album also held radio hits "Tell Your Heart To Beat Again" and "More Than You Think I Am" as it introduced old fans to his new sound and put Gokey back at the top of his career. Now a few years, a Christmas album, many awards/nominations and countless changed lives later, Danny is back with his new album Rise.
Opening the album with the same energetic pop vibes we found present on Hope In Front Of Me, "Stronger Than We Think We Are" offers an encouraging message of empowerment to those who feel worn down (a fun remix of the song also closes the album). Recently released "If You Ain't In It" and the album's first single "Rise" follow back-to-back, perhaps the best example of how Danny effortlessly transitions from the jazzy pop tones to a more subdued pop yet almost worship-styled track, executing both with extreme talent. A bold reminder of who we were created to be, the title track hits its mark with the same power that "Hope In Front Of Me" did: "So rise / breaking the dark, piercing the night / you're made to shine / an army of hope, bringing the world a radiant light / you were made to rise."
A definite highlight and personal favorite, "Masterpiece" plays on the deeply honest yet beautifully hopeful lyricism that Danny captures so well in his music: "Heart trusts You for certain, head says "it's not working" / I'm stuck here still hurting / but You tell me You're making a masterpiece, You're shaping a song in me," the triumphant chorus proclaims. Upbeat "The Comeback" and "Never Be The Same" display Danny's raspy, emotive and versatile vocals in sonically creative ways. Fittingly downtempo "Slow Down" follows this vocal theme as well, with an innovative sound that makes for an attention-grabbing listen.
A duet with fellow American Idol alumni Jordan Sparks, "Chasing" proves to be the most intimate moment on Rise as the two voices mesh remarkably well to produce a moving reminder that the Lord faithfully pursues us even when we run to other things. While the two are both such powerhouse vocalists, the way they handle this track with softness and a sort of restraint is beautiful, putting the focus fully on the vulnerable songwriting. Closing in on the end of the album, gospel-tinted "What Love Can Do" and "Better Than I Found It," a duet with Kierra Sheard, offer life-changing messages that center on the immense power of spreading love and kindness in this seemingly dark world.
The Bottom Line: No question about it, Rise finds Danny Gokey at his best yet as he continues to mature as an artist and settle into his pop/soul/gospel blended sound. It feels obvious that Danny put a great deal of heart in these songs, as each one is a passion-filled communication of hope, love and the faithfulness of God even in our weak places. With every bit as much (and then some) emotion, honesty and vocal power as his previous records, Rise will no doubt continue to impact fans with all the redemptive and hopeful elements that we've come to expect from Danny Gokey's music.
Song To Download Now:
"Masterpiece" (Get it on iTunes here.)