Best-selling pop group FFH returned for the release of its first new record in three years, Wide Open Spaces. This album was previously release digitally in September 2009.
After taking a sabbatical in 2006, FFH frontman Jeromy Deibler and his wife Jennifer, also in the group, moved to South Africa where they spent six months training musicians and mentoring worship leaders at a small church south of Cape Town. It was during that time Jeromy began to experience severe pain and unsettling symptoms throughout his body. Months after returning to the U.S. in the spring of 2007, Jeromy was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
“The time away has been anything but routine,” says Jeromy. “Since our departure in 2006, Jennifer and I have moved to Africa and back, welcomed our second child, and dealt with my MS diagnosis. We’ve been walking the wilderness in brokenness and joy, learning that the two coexist. The waiting has been hard, but the Lord knew we needed a break to deal with some deeper issues, both physical and spiritual, that just couldn’t be dealt with while on the road. We now feel like it’s time to renew our connection with our audience and start telling them about this chapter in our story.”
FFH’s latest project does just that, chronicling the ups and downs of their journey these last few years. Songs like “Undone” talk about surrendering to God amidst seemingly impossible circumstances and lead radio single “What It Feels Like” is a humble acknowledgement of complete brokenness before God.
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:)| Posted May 18, 2010
It's been 3 years since FFH's last album, Worship in the Waiting (featuring the best rendition of "In Christ
Alone" I ever heard). Nobody foresaw Wide Open Spaces, least of all Jeromy and Jennifer Deibler. After
disbanding due to burnout, they spent a six month stint in South Africa unwinding from fame. Arriving in
the US with no clear direction, they faced 2 diagnoses: Jennifer with her 2nd pregnancy and Jeromy with
MS. The irony is that their long, hard road took them right back where they began; music. Except this time
it would be on their own terms. But a secondary pursuit need not be second-rate.
Wide Open Spaces flourishes in the fertile soil of lessons learned. So much so that the entire album
could be the soundtrack to a movie about their experiences. It takes a lot of courage and dedication to
God to lay down your life's work. From the vulnerability of surrender ("Undone" and "What If Your Best"), to
newfound humility ("I Don't Care Anymore"); from a praying, seeking heart ("Stop The Bleeding") to the
decision to stop following the popular crowd ("Who I'm Gonna Be"), FFH shows that there is merit in
letting the tea steep. In fact, the last song, "Jesus Give Me Rest" seems to tie it all together under this
banner. I can relate to this (what high school graduate has not been there?) even though I don't have a
job, post-secondary education, a house, a car, a marriage, or anything else that goes along with it.
However, I admit that I too have a need for affirmation; anybody who's been tagged in my lyrics on
Facebook knows this well! We are reminded that God does some of His best work in us when we slam
on the brakes.
There's a good reason why the genre of this album is "unclassifiable". Some songs have a pop feel
while others are deep and worshipful. "Wide Open Spaces" is FFH's "Home On The Range" and sounds
a little cowboyish :). In some places Jeromy and Jennifer's voices sound more nasal than others. But
there's no discounting the quality of the lyrics. Like this, from "What It Feels Like":
"So this is what it feels like to just fall apart / be totally unglued / out that if I accept my brokenness/ I get
more of me, I get all of You"
The message may be oft-heard; each word alone nothing special. But when you combine them like that?
Sheer poetry, and the reason I love music and writing lyrics so much.
Life is full of surprises. You can travel around the world to go next door and never see it coming. When
you get there, you know better to ask the taxi driver, "Hey, what's with the 40,008 km detour?" Even though
the trip took forever, the cab broke down a couple of hundred times, and you got hot, cold, thirsty and
weary, you're not thinking about that anymore. You saw the world, made new friends, and enjoyed the
ride. That's more than worth the hefty fee. But then you look at the fare counter, blink a couple of times,
and crack a grin the size of the Grand Canyon. It reads: $0.00. :D