There was a time when an artist would spend months or years writing, rehearsing, and honing their talent, from the execution down to the writing of each lyric and composing a melody before they would even get a chance to get it recorded. Getting a record cut cost an incredible amount of money, and it was better if you got it right the first time. If you made a mistake, it would be on that record forever, or you wouldn’t get another chance to record again until you proved yourself.
In this day and age, anyone can write some lyrics, and record fairly inexpensively in a few days, if not hours. When the speed is increased, quality suffers, fast food anyone? And what we have is an ocean of music saturating the ears of listeners out there. So much is available. It can be difficult to find the gems, and leaves many artists asking the question, Is Anybody Listening?
Jermaine Bollinger is asking that question with his newest release, Is Anybody Listening?. A full length album boasting 14 new tracks, once again showing his prowess as a studio musician, composer and engineer. The arrangements are pure pop rock, fun upbeat, filled with tons of delicious ear candy, some nice hooks and an overall feel good vibe. The pre released single, “You’re Everything,” captures everything that is good about the album. The beat is infectious and the bouncy rhythmic feel bring some much needed groove and fun into worship, something that TobyMac fans will appreciate. Point 5 makes an appearance on the track “Idols.” This collaboration is a nice break from the album, bringing in some variation in tempo and feel. “Mallory” is likewise a beautiful ballad to Jermaine’s wife. There’s a clear love that comes through, and the emotion in Jermaine’s voice is apparent, filled with devotion and care.
While the arrangements are excellent, the production is top notch, and the playing is high quality, there are few things that can tire some ears after a while. I confess, I’m a sucker for excellent song writing. The song at it’s core has to be great. Lyrics and melody are key for me, and I’m finding there’s a bit lacking in the core of several of the songs on this album. When I think of great songwriters, in the secular realm, I think John Denver, Paul David Hewson, Gordon Matthew Thomas Summer, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, McCartney and Lennon, Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Tim Rice, just to name a few, who have, or had, a way of putting words together that are unique, at times descriptive, others simple, but yet tell what they mean in so few words to music that leaves no question in the listener’s minds as to what the intent of the songwriter meant. When I think of Christian songwriters, Darlene Zschech, Tomlin, Michael W Smith, Jeremy Camp, Matt Redman, the psalmists, and the writers of those hymns that are from ages ago that we still sing today come to mind. Jermaine has a few tricks, some quick internal rhymes, and simple lyrics, but that’s where ears begin to be tired. Often the simple is too simple, leaving huge plot holes in the story, and the rhymes tend to be trite and forced, meaning they are the least reasonable thing something someone would say in conversation. Luckily for us, the listener, what Jermaine lacks in lyrical prowess, he makes up for with enthusiasm in production, excellent playing, melodic intuitiveness, and a quality sounding record.
Now for the question, Is Anybody Listening?
Yes… If you are a fan of excellent writing, pick up a few tracks like “You’re Everything,” “Mallory,” “Your Spirit,” and “Idols,” and keep an eye on Jermaine. If there’s one thing about this guy, he’s prolific, which means he’s constantly working and hopefully looking to increase in his ability. If you want a great sounding album about Jesus and don’t care too deeply about the lyrics, then you will enjoy this album!
Is Anybody Listening will be available from most outlets beginning July 7, 2017.
Click on image below to download Is Anybody Listening?