Unexpected is Jason Crabb’s new CD that released April 20, 2018. The recording features ten new songs produced by Jay Demarcus and Dottie Leonard Miller. Fans of Jason Crabb know his music has a natural swing to it that reflects Black Gospel, Blues/Jazz and Progressive Gospel; and together, these styles give this new album a sound that is unmistakably Jason’s. But most importantly, let’s talk about the spiritual theme. Why? Because woven in each lyric is a nugget of truth that can help us get through each day. In addition to being an encouragement to our lives as Believers, the messages ask the people of God to be bold, loving and to get out in the world and make a difference for Christ. God has never worked in average ways – His works are unexpected. I love how the project goes back and forth between songs that ask us to reach out and songs that are an encouragement to our walk with the Lord. In that way, the CD is perfectly balanced. Let’s take a closer look at each song…
1 Expect The Unexpected
Message: On this CD, unexpected isn’t just an album title, it’s an anthem that launches us into the recording and the Bible’s largest theme – the love of God. God’s love is displayed many ways throughout Scripture, but perhaps the easiest to spot are the miracles He performed for those He loved. As you listen to the first and second verse of this song, you’ll hear a Hebrews 11 style retelling of the things God has done for His people. From the parting of the Red Sea to Jericho’s crumbling walls, the dead being raised to life and Peter walking on water with Jesus, these stories encourage us to believe God for big things. As the chorus says, “I’ve come to expect the unexpected from You!”
Other Comments: This song kicks off the CD with a driving beat, high energy and some cool riffs from the lead guitar. Jason co-wrote the song with Jimmy Yeary and Tony Wood, and I loved how this tune opened the CD, not just with upbeat music, but an uplifting message that set the tone for what was to come.
2 Day One
Message: Though the first track boasts of unwavering trust in the Almighty, let’s face it, there are days when our faith isn’t so strong. This song starts off by describing how life leads us down that road – busyness, overloaded senses and exhaustion, just to name a few. What do you do when you’re worn out and don’t feel like going on? You’ll hear the answer in the chorus, and I love the songwriters’ take on the solution to burn-out in the Christian life. Their answer? Simply go back to the cross, go back to the wonder of His saving power and focus on what Jesus has done instead of your problems. Remembering where we came from is key to knowing where we’re going; “Day One” reminds us not to underestimate the significance of the cross after we’ve been saved. It would do our hearts a lot of good to go back and revisit the peace, joy and love we felt when we first came to Christ – it might just change our future. Other Comments: Jason co-wrote this ballad with Gloria Gaynor and Chris Stevens. Gloria, who wrote the popular Pop song, “I Will Survive,” performed “Day One” with Jason at Singing In The Sun on April 21, 2018. The new CD was just days old then, and it was a pleasure to hear Gloria share her heart with the crowd that night. Being there probably made me a little biased when it comes to this song, but what can I say? Hearing the story behind it and then hearing the lyrics made this one a favorite before I bought the CD!
3 You Chose To Be My Friend
Tempo: Contemporary Ballad
Message: Friendship is chosen. You’ll either stick with your friends through the hard times, or, well, you’re not a real friend. The lyrics to this song are like a chronological journey through the friendship between a Believer and the Lord, retold from the Believer’s point of view. In the verses, the Believer recalls the time when Jesus believed in them when others didn’t, and during times of fear when the Lord stood by them and held their hand. Whereas the verses speak of personal experiences between the Believer and the Lord, the chorus speaks of the cross, the place where such a friendship between God and man was made possible.
Other Comments: Written by Gerald Crabb, this mid-tempo ballad builds throughout the piece – expect to hear piano and strings, a steady tap on the drums and bass and lead guitars in appropriate places for effect. It’s also worthy to note that Jason had Gary Levox accompany him on the second verse, I always enjoy when a soloist brings a guest in on a project. The duet was amazing!
4 Mercy We Can’t Go Beyond
Message: Have you ever wondered, “What is the limit of God’s grace?” This song lovingly answers, “There is none.” Let’s have the lyrics explain… The first verse speaks of going astray, running ahead and forgetting all the Lord has brought us through, and how even then, our faithlessness doesn’t deter Him. His mercy pursues us, even if we turn from what we know is right. The chorus follows and describes a list of truths that are powerful enough to bring the prodigal home. There is no such thing as going beyond God’s mercy, grace, forgiveness and love. Never believe that the darkness is greater, because it isn’t, instead, believe the truth – that there are no limits to God’s love.
Other Comments: A quick drum roll and burst of trumpets lead us into this tune. The background music complements the lyrics by giving it a light feel. The lyrics are meant to inspire hope in the listener and I felt that the background music added inspiration to the piece in its own way.
5 Let It Be Love
Message: Today’s world is full of division and problems, both in the secure world and in the church. Some of these things, such as being quick to cast judgment, slow to show mercy, breaking promises and holding back testimony, are described in the verses of this song. Kind of depressing, right? But then you hear the chorus, and thanks be to God, the truth therein lets us know that there is hope for change. You see, God’s love never gave up on us, ran away or rejected someone He didn’t “know.” And when His love is working in us, we will be brave and offer the same kind of care toward others. These lyrics, written by Jason Crabb, Michael Farren and Kenna West, testify to the fact that there are Believers embracing this radical call to minister and mentor today, and because of that, things are changing for the better. First in the church, then in the world!
Other Comments: The acoustic guitar, mandolin, keyboards and drums come together for an easy sound on this mid-tempo song. If you listen to the songs consecutively, you’ll notice that the background music of “Let It Be Love” and “Mercy We Can’t Go Beyond” are similar. It’s songs like these that keep the album’s flow in the midst of the few that are different stylistically. Also, this is another track where Jason brought in a special guest to sing with him, this time, Kaya Jones.
6 Short Are The Years
Message: This contemporary ballad paints a picture of the different seasons of parenthood and beckons all parents with kids at home to count each day as precious, no matter how trying and long they might feel. As the first verse describes, parenthood begins with the crazy schedule of dance classes and sporting events, the frusting stage where all they want to do is fight, and then, they’re ready to drive. Though they’ve grown considerably, you still stay up late worrying about them until you see the headlights roll in. During those times, the days seem so long… But in the chorus, Jason echoes the sentiment many parents will tell you – time flies by and the years you have with your kids will feel relatively short once they’re grown. Enjoy them while they’re at home!
Other Comments: This is the only song on the album that doesn’t have a spiritual theme, but then again, maybe you can argue that point. After all, the Bible does say that children are a blessing from the Lord! Regardless, this was a great addition to the album. Though the message has a very specific demographic it speaks to, it’s very moving.
7 Washed By The Water
Message: Have you ever felt stuck? Lost? Have no one to blame but yourself? The verses of this tune speak that exact thing. It can be hard to admit, but if we want to see true change in our lives, we gotta come to a place where we know that we’re at the end of our rope and need the Lord to change us. To me, the message of this song can apply both as a call for the lost to receive salvation and the Believer to trust in Christ for sanctification. We’ve all heard the illustration of pouring water into a strainer – though the water drains through the holes, it cleans the inside of cookware and that’s the effect of God’s Word on our life. We may have to cast ourselves upon the mercy of God again and again because of repeated failures, but each time we do, we become cleaner every time. For some reason, that’s the illustration I think of when I hear this song!
Other Comments: Jason has always incorporated a little Jazzy/Blues style in his music and I think this song from the album reflects that the most. The background music makes an emphasis on the downbeat and has just enough trumpet and saxophone in it to sound a little different from the rest of the album. But that’s the spirit of the album, it’s unexpected!
8 He Made You
Message: The only way I can think to describe this song, is a Christian love song. The verses describe the Lord’s power and thoughtfulness in creation, highlighting the fact that He never made anything without knowing the end of the story. Or, in this case, their story. Not just when He made the light and dark on day one, but, when he made the one who acts as the main speaker throughout the song. In the chorus, the one speaking thanks God for knowing what they needed when He created this person they’re thanking Him for. Truly, life is full of things we don’t deserve, can’t explain and stand in awe of when we see the way He works.
Other Comments: The intro and first verse begin slow – with piano, strings, and the acoustic guitar. But once we reach the chorus, the tempo picks up and keeps the new pace throughout the remaining scores. Once again, the sound is inspirational and puts an emphasis on the lyrics.
9 Love Will Have The Final Word
Message: To me, “Love Will Have The Final Word” is like a sequel to “Let It Be Love” that we heard earlier on the album. The theme is identical, only this tune has three verses and two different choruses. The message, as I mentioned already, reminds us that when life is all said and done, love (as in the love of Christ) will have the final say. Yet, there is a way we can reverse all the hatred, enemy-making craziness…today. We may have to learn a new way of fighting, we’ll definitely have to surrender our pride and prejudice, but rewriting our history and showing the generations to come that we can live in unity and peace would be worth it all. What is this grand strategy? Yes, you guessed it – love. Showing one another genuine care and hope through Christ.
Other Comments: The sound on this tune resembles the same on “Washed By The Water,” though this version is more upbeat. There’s a lot of trumpet and saxophone, which I think gives the number a fun style. Again, this one is co-written by Jason, Michael Farren and Tony Wood; and I think they captured that Black Gospel feel with this one perfectly.
10 The Love In Your Heart Knows The Way
Message: Finally, the album closes with another call to lean on the love of Christ for direction when dealing with the storms of life. The first two verses implement the use of imagery to draw a picture of what we need as a people and a country. From a drowning man who just needs a helping hand to pull him out, to a boat caught in the stormy sea of life, we’re reminded that true love will point you in the right direction. The third verse steps closer to the heart of the problem and addresses an issue that has caused controversy and division in our time. This lyric beckons us to set aside our differences, come together, and let love guide us instead of hate. The chorus simply repeats, “The love in your heart knows the way,” several times, bathing the listener in a truth that hopefully with stay with them long after the song is through.
Other Comments: If you’re expecting the last song to go out with a bang, you might be surprised to hear that this is actually one of the slowest songs on the CD. Soft picking from the acoustic guitar opens the intro with a little mandolin and quiet beat. In fact, the whole song keeps a calm pace, even the lead guitar solo between the third verse and chorus was pretty chill. The intensity only rises when a choir backs Jason up on the chorus. Read the liner notes carefully, and if you’ve followed the Crabb Family through the years, you’ll probably recognize every name!
Conclusion: Unexpected is a great album. Most of the songs were upbeat (I’m always a fan of that!) and had solid lyrics. In fact, even if you listened to this CD and didn’t like the style of the music, you couldn’t be disappointed with the lyrics. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it as long as I see singers express their feelings and vision through songwriting – when an artist takes on writing, their heart influences the album and points it in a certain direction. Jason did just that by co-writing seven of the ten songs on this album. If ever there was a CD where the conviction and passion of the singer transforms the project, this one is it. The theme was flawless. In my opinion, you can’t listen to this music without feeling closer to the Lord. It will change you!