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Thursday, January 6, 2011

JJ Heller's Latest Album "When I'm With You" {review}

Bare with me as I try to put into words what makes the newest addition to JJ Heller's music library, "When I'm With You", absolutely incredible. It is my hope that you decide to check it out for yourself after reading this.

The first time I listened through this album, I enjoyed it but I didn't really listen to each track. I was just getting a first impression which was "that's pretty good!". It's when I went back and listened to each track, one by one, and got the message of each title, that I began to fall in love with this album.

In general, I'm a sucker for folk styled music. A song that tells a story, sung by a strong but gentle lead vocal is my preference. I'm not sure if JJ considers her music to be "folky" {that's my word for it} but I guess you could say it speaks to that part of me.

"When I'm With You" speaks to me on many different levels. It speaks to me as a mom, as someone with a scarred past, and as someone in need of forgiveness who is so grateful for the hope I find in a loving God. Allow me to give you a few examples of this from the album.

As a mom, I immediately fell for the title track, "When I'm With You". Every time I hear it and its cheery tempo, I think of my little ones and their smiling faces. Yes, this is what my heart says when I'm around them and JJ puts it into words that I could never, on my own, find. Also, the "Boat Song" is a wonderful sort of lullaby. I've been humming this to my Eliana as I sway with her before her nap and bedtime. Someday, I'll know all the words and be singing it to her. ;)

Here is my favorite part of that song:
If you were the ocean then I'd be the sand. If you were a song I'd be the band. If you were the stars then I'd be the moon. A light in the dark my darling for you.
As for my broken past, I related so closely with the song "Control" that I was brought to tears by the end of it. {I posted a series in August of 2008, "digging up the past", telling my story in 4 posts if you care to dig in Archives at the bottom of my homepage} In the song, JJ tells the story of someone she met and was inspired by. The song is about humanity and redemption. It's about the dark times of life finding the light of hope and peace. I'm sure anyone can take something away from the song. These lyrics really hit the nail on the head for me:

There were scars before my scars. Love written on the hands that hung the stars. Hope living in the blood that was spilled for me.

Those words give me goosebumps.

Finally, speaking of humanity, the following tracks speak to my heart and make it to revel in the hope I have in a relationship with God.

  • What Love Really Means
  • Love Can Make You New
  • No Fight Left
  • Until You Came Along
Each track shares a different part of the greater message. Some are in first person, others are in third, but all of them point to one answer, one hope. I oftentimes find myself singing "No Fight Left" at the top of my lungs as I go throughout my day. I pray that I mean those words as I sing them, too. "I've given up trying. I'm giving it all to You." JJ Heller is very gifted with words, melodies, and vocals. She's also gifted with a wonderful husband to back her up musically and vocally. :)

If you're a fan of inspirational music at all, you absolutely must check out this album.
I'll make it easy for you. You can listen to snippets on this player that will give you just a taste of it.

Once you've heard it and know what I'm talking about, go buy it!

Some links for you: Check out the Tour stops, and her other Music. And did I mention JJ Heller is a "mom blogger"? Oh, yes. She is. Stop by and check out her blog about her creativity in her home.

I'm a really big fan and wish that one day, I'll be able to sing harmonies with JJ. Oh, what's that? Too big or strange of a dream? OK. I'll give you that.
...just don't tell her it was me singing loudly at her concert, mmkay?  ;)

**Thanks to JJ Heller and her husband for supplying the complimentary, mentioned album download to facilitate this review. I wasn't compensated in any other way for this review. In this post I share my thoughts and opinions of the item being reviewed. Others may have a different experience or opinion.**



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