Big Heart, Beautiful Sounds
Posted August 21, 2015
By CaitlinLassiter_NRT, Staff Reviewer
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.)
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