Caleb Andrews’ aim is true and the heart of what comes forth echoes scripture
Artist: Caleb Andrews
Sometimes we arrive by means we never imagine- the path we take may not have been the one we had planned. Along the way we may discover what was our heart‘s compass all the time. For singer/songwriter Caleb Andrews, the signposts became a song, or many- songs that in his experience reflect the most vital truth any of us could ever grasp. Listening to his third album release Sing Louder, I am reminded of a favorite book, The Calvary road by Roy Hession, which expounds on the way of the cross, or the beauties of humility and repentance. The turn of each chapter, or here song, holds rather than ponderous concepts, wonder and joy at a life lived in its shadow. I am also reminded of songwriters like Keith Green and Rich Mullins, whose clarity of conviction and poetic agility rise above decades of song for their heartfelt devotion and passion for Jesus. In a collection of anthems held together by Andrews’ plaintive, stirring voice, and a theme central to the lost and found, the proud and humble, Caleb joins these greats in equal skill and inspiration with a reach to the lowest and the highest.
Rich with theology, simple in execution, beautiful and stirring in instrumentation, from the jubilant title track to “Maranatha“ reciting the last words of Revelation, Caleb and backing band Hannah Stevens, Andrew Faletti, David Williams, Jacob Hamilton, Rebekah Andrews, and Tolu Akande deliver what seems a labor of love from Andrews’ heart to his maker and fellow man. Sounds both tender and triumphant join ruminations on brokenness and boasting in the glory that is and is to come and lift the listener to a higher plain.
“All the world for Jesus”, an 1800s hymn revival,points to Andrews’ heart for missions and serves as his own mission statement, that all hear the message of Jesus Christ, in word or song. The heartfelt “Always been there” touches as a relatable journey of personal faith, a testimony of trust: “you‘ve always been there, even when I couldn‘t see you, even when I couldn‘t feel you, Lord, you never let go even when my hands were trembling and my strength was failing.”; the feeling is palpable and tear inducing. In keeping, “By your mercies” is a sweet yet powerful admission of God’s mercy to not only bring us to life but to sustain that life: “when I wander you always bring me home..by your mercies I am here”.
With its rapid beat and stirring, transcendent sound, “Center of it all” carries the feeling of running from a place outside to one of purpose. The repeated refrain at the end, “it’s all for you”, rings out and rises above breaking through any ceiling between this reality and the next. Equally a standout is “Justice due me”, in voice and verse conveying almost a suspenseful story of man’s peril, “I couldn’t see what was ahead of me..”. Powerfully punctuated mid-song by a quiet moment, piano notes segue into a sung sermon set on fire: “ he abolished the enmity fulfilling the law, for the wrath of almighty omnipotent god must come upon sin and it did in his son, now we the guilty are made clean by innocent blood.”
“Paid it all” continues in this vein lifting unfettered praise and thanksgiving. The break away, with repetition as its driving force, is moving: “you’ve given us so very much, Lord its enough, you paid for us with your precious blood, Lord it’s enough“. Another highlight, “Prisoner here” truly shines with the clear, resplendent tones of Rebekah Andrews’ voice joining Caleb. As the refrain “I give you my worship” is repeated, the heart soars and a shift in the atmosphere is felt. It underscores the set apartness and purity that the project carries.
Sing Louder is indeed a reminder…of power, hidden and revealed, by what some would deem an unlikely source. The songs reflect the experience of one man and many, the thoughts that surface in our generation as in any, can man truly change? Can our reality be altered by trust in an unseen God? Does the gospel have power? In Caleb’s own words: “The cross levels the playing field. We’re all losers without the cross--from the murderer to the child fighting on the playground, we all need the cross. We measure ourselves among ourselves instead of against the holiness of God. I want people to feel their need, that there are no good works I can do to atone.” As one who is living and learning it, Caleb Andrews’ aim is true and the heart of what comes forth echoes scripture: “But even if I am poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.” Philippians 2:17