We live in a tough world. Because of that, sometimes it takes strong lyrics to minister to people living in such an environment. Brian Free & Assurances new EP, How Good Does Grace Feel, is that kind of music. I feel that the continuous theme in this new EP is how to live under hard circumstances with God as your strength. Every song points you to Jesus, and I don’t know about you, but I need a lot of Jesus to make it through!
Listening to the music, the tracks and arrangements rank right up there with BFA’s last few albums. The sound from Beyond Amazed and Live Like We’re Redeemed continues right onto this EP. In fact, the EP is so good, it almost doesn’t even feel like it’s not a full length CD. The contributing factors that make these six songs so great? A short overview of the album will tell the tale. First off, the songwriters are top notch. People like Joseph Habedank (Soloist of the Year), Devin McGlamery (of EHSS), Tony Wood, Dave Clark, Kenna Turner West, Sue C. Smith and Jason Cox are just a few of the writers who penned these lyrics. Add to that some great background music and strong vocals from all the BFA guys, and you have some pretty powerful material. Let’s take a deeper look…
Brian Free & Assurance members are:
Tenor – Brian Free
Lead – Bill Shivers
Baritone – Mike Rogers
1 This Storm
Feature: Bill Shivers
Message: We’ve all been there. One moment, life is going according to plan and then the next, you’re in the middle of a fierce trial. Like a storm on the ocean, you never saw it coming and no matter where you turn, you can’t escape the pounding waves. If you’ve ever felt that way, then the chorus has some good news – Jesus is bigger than the storm! He will give you strength, be your constant hope and carry you when you can’t go on. No matter how powerful the winds, He is still God. The second verse is the most encouraging – it reminds us that even if we were strong enough to withstand the trial, Jesus would still be there every step of the way. Weak or strong, His grace will get us through. The bridge goes on to reinforce the same truths – we may not know what is ahead, but one thing is certain, the storm won’t last forever…
Other Comments: When you think of “BFA sound,” this is the type of song you think of. Written by Dave Clark, Don Kich and Joseph Habedank; the lyrics and music of “This Storm” combine for an incredible moment with God. And with Bill’s vocals delivering the message, well, you couldn’t make this tune better if you tried! Undoubtedly, this is the strongest song on the EP!
2 Without Jesus
Feature: Brian Free
Message: What would you do without Jesus? Have you ever thought about how people cope without God by their side? Well, the first two verses of this song paint a vivid picture of the treasure we have in Christ by imagining life through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know Him. The first verse speaks of death and the second verse continues with a general overview of the feelings a person can develop in a hard trial. Without Jesus, the end result is always the same – fear, uncertainty and no peace. Following, the chorus gives a brilliant description of who Jesus is – Son of God, Redeemer, Pearl of Great Price and ultimately… well, everything. The last verse turns the lyric from life without God to life with Him. Here, you hear a Believer testify that there may have been some hard times, but the Lord had been a comfort and friend through them all, ending the song on a positive note.
Other Comments: This isn’t your typical Christian song, but one thing it does, it makes you think. At first, I didn’t quite know how to take it – the lyrics can come across a little depressing. But the thing is, it’s true. So often, we take the relationship we have with the Lord for granted. This song reminded me of how much I have in that respect and for that, I have to thank Devin McGlamery, Tony Wood and Joseph Habedank for crafting this lyric.
Feature: Bill Shivers
Message: Ever feel out of control of your life? Can you remember the nights you cried, thinking you were all alone? Weary and out of strength? Then you will be blessed by the chorus of this song! It reminds us that you don’t have to have strength to be heard by the Father – all you need is the smallest bit of faith to call on His name! The next few lines go on to say that He’s waiting to work on your behalf even when you can’t. When you feel helpless, you have the strength of heaven on your side! While the first verse talked about the heartache we experience on this earth, the second verse gives us peek into heaven and how the Lord is moved by our pain. If you could hear the longing of His heart, you wouldn’t hesitate to cry out to Him with your needs! The bridge reaffirms these truths by pointing out that Jesus wouldn’t come to die for us only to leave us hanging when we need Him most. He is your help!
Other Comments: This is my favorite song from the EP! I’ve never heard a song about prayer written in such a unique and compelling way. It’s a mid-tempo song that has the perfect build for the chorus. The first verse starts off with mostly piano, but by the time you get to the end the music lifts just enough to drive the lyric home. This is a song of hope that we as Believers need to hear everyday – especially in these times!
4 How Good Does Grace Feel
Feature: Mike Rogers
Message: This tune is all about the emotions we feel and how grace can change them all. The first verse covers the feeling of loneliness and fear; how it can paralyze you even when you pray to be brave. But then you get to the chorus and here these words… “We all bruise we all break, we all fall beneath the weight of this life.” The writers of the song didn’t try and minimize the pain we experience, but they pointed us to the One who carries us through it. And that’s the part that is so good, you can feel it. The second verse changes our outlook from the negative emotions in the first verse to the breathtaking wonder of feeling alive. Each line explains that this freedom, hope and peace comes from knowing that this grace is here to stay. Amen!
Other Comments: A soft roll on the piano introduces the true, yet tough lyrics of the first verse. Once again, this is a song of hope that faces reality, but it doesn’t leave us hanging. The lyrics show us how the Lord is here and working on our behalf. Another great song from Kenna Turner West, Sue C. Smith and Jason Cox.
5 Even If The Healing Doesn’t Come
Feature: Mike Rogers
Message: Up to this point, the EP has featured powerful, uplifting lyrics about the power of God and how He works out the best for His children. But if we’re honest, we probably won’t have to look far before we run into someone who didn’t get healing, prayers answered the way they wanted, or someone who’s story didn’t go the way we would have written it if we were God. And for those who have lived in that difficult place – this song is for them. The lyrics are a testimony of trust of someone who has walked through a hard, hard road. But when they get to the chorus, they lift their hands in praise and like Job, say, “You are God and we will bless you even if the healing doesn’t come.” As heartbreaking as the circumstances are, they don’t change who He is. A humbling, humbling truth…
Other Comments: This song was originally recorded by the Contemporary Christian band, Kutless, in 2012. When you hear Mike sing it, you’ll agree that it’s a perfect fit for him and a great example of a successful crossover to our genre. On top of that, it’s an all around powerful lyric that encourages us to take our worship to a new level.
6 Only God Knows
Feature: Brian Free
Message: This BFA classic is about the effect that abortion has had on our nation, families and churches. Each line of the verses speak of things these children never experienced – a first birthday, graduation, making cookies with mom, picking flowers, knowing what it’s like to have a best friend, first car, or celebrate their sweet sixteen. The chorus simply asks, “What has happened to America?” The answer is that only God knows who those children could have been, if given the chance…
Other Comments: For years, fans have been asking BFA to re-cut this song, and it finally happened. This ballad was first recorded by BFA in 1995 on Live In Atlanta. Honestly, it’s a sad song. And it’s sad because it’s true. Thanks for bringing this one back, Brian, we need to hear it today just as bad as in the mid 90’s.
Conclusion: For an EP, this project is packed with truth, encouragement and worship. To sum it up in one line, I would have to say it’s uplifting music with a powerful lyric. These songs are about real life – the good and the bad. What I loved about it was this: when you heard the good – like “This Storm,” “Helpless” and “How Good Does Grace Feel” – it was good. I mean, have a spell in your car good! Yet, there are songs like “Even If The Healing Doesn’t Come” and “Only God Knows,” that don’t ignore the fact that there is disappointment and hurt in this world. Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile these two truths together. But this project does it in a way that makes you want to worship Jesus more. To me, that’s a wow factor and worth the ten dollars to invest in your walk with God. Get a copy! (Also, be sure to enjoy BFA’s Official Music Video for “This Storm” below, before you leave!)