Riley Clemmons, a 21-year old musician from Nashville, Tennessee, has a lot to offer her fans. To start, her strong faith provides a solid foundation for her lyrics. Also, her amazing vocals dominate every song, leaving listeners in awe. Lastly, her bubbly and joyful personality makes her music videos and podcasts fun and light (And did I mention her amazing stage presence?). I highly recommend seeing her perform live (she’s touring with Tauren Wells and Andrew Ripp in Autumn 2021).
In celebration of Riley's latest album, Godsend, we look at the assembled playlist of her best songs.
As Riley’s debut single, this song carried many hopes and dreams into the world. That’s a lot of weight to hang on three minutes and 13 seconds. And, soon after its release, “Broken Prayers” became a new hit in Christian pop, thus turning Riley's hope and dreams into reality. It gave Riley the much-deserved spotlight.
“Broken Prayers” emphasizes the realization that God finds beauty in our brokenness. He's there for us as a friend, always ready to listen, and never turning away. Contrary to popular belief, prayer doesn’t have to consist of stiff emotions and repeated words.
I especially love the lyrics, “When I'm hurt, at my worst/You meet me there.” To me, the words say that if we strive for perfection, we’re going to get beat up at the end of the day; we won’t ever make it. But, we don’t have to. Riley’s perspective highlights this blessing: “This song came from a place of truly finding peace in the fact that God takes you at your most broken. Not only does He take you there, but He delights in it and He genuinely loves you in that place.”
"Fighting For Me"
The single “Fighting For Me” hits home for many listeners. In this song, Riley captured the awesome, indescribable power of God and portrayed it as a relatable beauty. The lyrics of this beautiful melody are the deepest truth I've ever heard.
She does an incredible job at portraying the foundation of faith: love, trust, and belief in God. The trust that He's beside us--even when we don’t feel strong. The love he shows when fighting our battles for us winning with his unmatchable power: “When my faith is weak/You're still by my side.” These lyrics say that when our confidence seems non-existent and any potential stream of strength has run dry, God is still with us. I can’t imagine a more beautiful reason to rejoice than that.
"Over and Over"
I find it crazy to think that this song has already been out for a year. I remember the day it dropped. My excitement level was through the roof. Right before the COVID-19 pandemic craziness, Riley released this amazing reminder of God’s grace, something we all ended up really needing.
The song's message says we aren’t perfect. And, no matter how much we want to be, we never will be. The pandemic has left many of us to remain isolated, locked in our bedrooms. But, the song points out that there's someone who is perfect and loves each of us so much.
The second option brings so much joy to me and having a reminder of this in “Over and Over” was incredible. In an NRT Behind the Song devotional, Riley expanded on the song story: “This song came from a place of just being in awe of God's grace that doesn't ask for anything back.” Even though choosing God is the right thing to do, it doesn’t mean it’s easy and sometimes we get sidetracked. But God never does. He chooses us all day, every day and no matter what we do, He continues to love us and rain favor down over and over again.
"Keep on Hoping"
In keeping with this song title, I would like to highlight the fact that Riley has retained her ever-strong faith in God. Sometimes, as artists evolve, they lose what made them special in the first place, but Riley has proven that possibility wrong. As she grows in her career, she simply produces more amazing music. She has discovered new depths of her voice. Furthermore, she has stretched it perfectly to accompany the beautiful songs that continue to flow from her real-life experiences.
Riley explained that this song was birthed during a day of heaviness, one filled with noise and I think that is really relatable. She continues on to say that noise can be created by many things; voices both good and bad are constantly feeding us and it’s easy to get overloaded. Then, even if we weren’t intending on it, this misty cloud of distraction has the effect of blocking out the truth of God. These lyrics are the perfect encouragement to anyone struggling, their message is clear: “Lift your eyes, the One who gave you life will give you/Strength to keep on going, so keep on hoping” The noise isn’t getting us anywhere, it’s just circling us back around to frustration. But when we recognize the hope of God, that’s when we can actually begin to live.
Riley said she wrote “Healing” about two years before it was actually released. But, this seemed like the perfect time to release it. Although different for everyone, last October was a difficult month for me. This song was the perfect soundtrack for my road of healing. Riley accompanied this song with a focus on mental health.
The lyrics that struck me the most were “Gave myself some grace/And my soul began to feel the change” We can certainly be hard on ourselves. We often expect things that we can’t do and furthermore, others don’t expect us to do.
I’ve been in the position where the only thing holding me back from joy was myself and what a crazy position to be in. If you’re feeling the same way, something important to remember is God doesn't expect the world from you. He loves you the way you are, flaws and all. He just wants you. And your true family and friends will feel the same way.
Riley has created yet another masterpiece with this song, a story with a message strong enough to pull others through hard times. Healing isn’t immediate, it’s a process. But, giving yourself grace definitely gets it going (and listening to this song may help, too.).
Selena Schulz is NRT’s youngest staff contributor. She loves God, music, reading, and writing.
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