Redemptive and Moving Posted November 11, 2021 By KevinDavis_NRT, Staff Reviewer
What You Need to Know I was a new believer, and I became completely hooked when I first heard Sara Groves sing "The Word." Sara's albums have received well-deserved acclaim for her premier songwriting ability. Twenty years ago, Sara's major label debut album Conversations led to her nomination for Best New Artist. She has followed up each album with her next "best" albums with All Right Here and The Other Side of Something.
With Add to the Beauty, Tell Me What You Know and Fireflies & Songs, Groves focused on a theme and wrote poetic commentary with songs about social justice and the impoverished. Invisible Empires was my top album of 2011. Floodplain was one of my top albums of 2015. What Makes it Through is Sara Groves' 14th album and first collection of original songs since Floodplain. The album’s themes are a reflection on events of the last several years and speak to the hard work of what it means to arrive at something like truth and reconciliation.
What it Sounds Like Stirring opener “Soul of Things” sets the tone for this exceptional album, which is not be missed. Sara has once again captivated me as it features her unique brand of gourmet lyrical phrasing embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those "with ears to hear." What Makes it Through showcases not only Sara's gifts as a songwriter, but her shimmering, emotion-laden voice. In the style of my favorite singer-songwriters, I can’t get enough of Sara’s thought-provoking songs. Several of Sara’s songs over the years are accessible pop and worship songs that are deep in meaning and content and this album is no exception. So many people can relate to the messages of these songs.
Spiritual Highlights Sara has consistently impressed me with her mature faith. You'll be blessed by these powerful songs that are rooted in scriptural truth. “Soul of Things” is inspired by John 4:29 (The Voice): “I met a stranger who knew everything about me.” The messages of reconciliation and forgiveness are found throughout the album including “Rendezvous” which opens with the lyrics, “Forgiveness is a tour of duty.” The song’s theme is based on several biblical truths, including 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NIV): "All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” The song includes the album title in the lyrics, “I forgot, then remembered, it’s so strange what makes it through, it’s so heavy what we carry on our way to rendezvous.” Whatever struggle or depression you are facing, you can know that God is with you, always.
“Reach Inside’s” lyrics take me on an emotional journey that causes me to self-reflect on the stirring message every time I hear the song. These anthems are the cry of my heart with the much-needed call to action messages looking at the injustice and lack of emotional response to the tragedies we see around us. “Reach Inside” will raise your heart and voice as you self-reflect on the words: “Gather round your cross of execution, pass the peace and pass the bread. What do you remember when you take the cup, what do you forget?” The theme of loving one another and being known is bookended with “Loving a Person,” which has the reminder, “Loving a person just the way they are, it's not small thing, loving a person right where they are, it's the whole thing.”
Best Song on the Record This album is filled with several of my new favorite songs by Sara Groves. I generally rank my favorite songs based on how they move me emotionally. On this album, that’s every song. “Soul of Things” stirs my heart and increases my convictions to grow closer to God and evaluate my relationships during my mindfulness and personal devotional time like Sara’s songs “Miracle” and “It’s Me.” The lyrics of this song completely wreck me: “Somewhere in the vast waters of my mind a memory resurfaced and I’m looking in your eyes, you are trying to tell me a better way to see into the soul of things.” I can’t listen to “Reach Inside” or “Nothing” without welling up, and you’ll get emotionally swept up in “Nothing.” The song is an instant classic, with the clever and thoughtful lyrics, “I like to believe you’ve been catching all the words in a net, and one day you'll let loose with a speech we won’t forget, all the words will go flying.”
Final Word I listen to literally everything released in Christian music, and What Makes it Through is a profound listening experience. This album dramatically affects me personally and spiritually and is my top "gourmet" album of the year. Sara Groves is an incredibly anointed singer-songwriter in the style of Ellie Holcomb, Christa Wells and JJ Heller. It is the ultimate privilege for me to experience her gift of music making with all my senses "in Spirit and in truth." Sara has always had a knack for hitting me where I am spiritually and expressing the prayerful yearnings of my heart.
The songs are all captivating, and if you like Sara's emotional songs "Miracle," "This Cup" and "It's Me," then you absolutely must have this album. She is a uniquely gifted singer/songwriter with a tender voice that is memorable and dynamic, yet intimate. These songs all have lyrics that poignantly capture life's complex and vital messages. There are several personal songs that melt my heart. If you like female singers that make you think while you enjoy their catchy and empowering songs, What Makes it Through is for you. This is one of my top albums of the year in any genre.