“I just want to create music that makes people think.” This is a quote from emerging artist Jacob Stanifer on his website. The website describes Jacob’s lyrics as “thought-provoking and faith-inspired.”
The emerging artist blends pop, EDM, and other genres into a fresh musical perspective for listeners. And he has the talents to do it. Jacob grew up playing instruments when he was young and started songwriting and producing in 2013.
His website states: “For Jacob, music is not just a creative outlet, but a canvas to convey the realities of humanity—and the grace of a God who loves us more than we can imagine.” I had a chance to talk about Jacob’s latest album, Full Circle—song by song.
Kairos means “a propitious moment for decision or action.” I believe we are faced with kairos moments all the time. And while much of this life is out of our control, the one thing we do have control over is how we respond to life’s circumstances. I recently learned about a “full circle” response method that includes observation, reflection, discussion, planning, accountability, and action—in that order. It's an interesting concept because it requires you to take a step back before you can make forward progress. In a sense, this album is my “full circle” response to many of the kairos moments in my life over the past year or two.
“Normal” is a song I wrote during the summer of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lot of people to be apart from each other. I wrestled for a long time with how to put my thoughts into words, and I finally just decided to say exactly what I felt. Why can’t life just be normal? I debated releasing this song when I first finished it, thinking that life would be getting back to normal by the time it came out. But I think this sentiment is still relatable today.
“Fall Apart” is an older song—released in 2020—written about how we would quite literally fall apart if the Lord wasn’t present. Even at a cellular level, He is who keeps our bodies and souls together. I was reminded of this reality when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and I began to see the danger of placing faith in worldly securities.
"Anything" is a song about this certain type of relationship where you'd do anything for someone, and you know they've always got your back, too. I wrote it thinking about my awesome wife and the relationship we have. But I’m reminded that these kinds of all-in relationships are important and valuable across the board. It's a wonderful thing to have friends who have your back through thick and thin.
This song was one that almost wrote itself. And I think it really stemmed from me being an Enneagram 9 (The Peacemaker), a personality trait described by the Enneagram Institute. It highlights my fear of conflict and my desire for a peaceful relationship with my wife. We get on the wrong page sometimes, but I think it’s important to end each day on the same page. This song is my quest to make sure everything's alright.
“Pixels” is one of my personal favorites on the album. Originally titled “Zoom,” this song is about my love/hate relationship with technology and the fear that we aren’t living life the way it was meant to be lived. Sometimes it feels like we've traded true connection for convenience. And we run at such a fast and unsustainable pace of life that we forget to slow down and enjoy the people and blessings around us.
This song is sort of a response to the media and news these days. I wrote it after the riots in the U.S. Capital on January 6, 2021. I saw dozens of people posting on social media saying they had “no words” for what was happening—and then proceeding to say a bunch of words. Sometimes, I think we do too much talking and not enough listening to those around us—especially God. I think we could all benefit from listening for God's voice before trying to make our own voice heard.
This is a fun one that came from a reminder that God’s kingdom is so backward compared to ours. Or maybe our world is the one that's backward. Thankfully, we serve a God who can transform our hearts and literally turn our lives upside-down.
“That’s OK” is the oldest song on the record, and it’s funny because I’ve been sitting on this one for such a long time. But the message behind it has never meant more to me than it does right now. I’m not sure what the future holds, and that’s a tough reality to swallow. Faith isn’t easy, but it's okay because I know God has a plan. Shoutout to my good friend Ethan Collins on the guitar.
Some might think it’s odd to put the title track as the last song on an album. But “Full Circle” is all about reflection and naturally, this is where it needed to land. With references to several of the songs and voice memos from impactful moments in my life, this song reflects on the things I’ve learned over the past few years.
As the song says: "It's funny how He loves us/even when we're the ones to blame/I feel like I'm changing, but His Love has always stayed the same/full circle."
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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