*What We Heard is our non-review album review. Since tastes are different, it seems unnecessary to rate something one way or the other. So, we just take a listen and tell you what we heard.
Tim Timmons is a bald man with thick glasses who sings about Jesus. I connect to this (well, minus the singing. I make walrus noises). The songs in his most recent release, “Awake Our Souls“, point me to the good news of a current Kingdom and a faithful, loving King; to a living and active Holy Spirit who is as powerful and intentional as He has ever been. I constantly need reminded of this. Timmons’ words also ask us to contemplate the state of our current physical reality in light of all that is true about God and His Kingdom. Do we really believe it’s true? Do our actions reflect that our lives, our very realities, have been remade as a result of God’s love and that we not only get to live in that reality but get to be active agents of His restoration? Where am I fighting for my kingdom and missing out on His in the process? I ask many of those questions, myself.
Is it hubris to like an album because you hear your own voice, your own prayers, in it? That’s the thing with this one, I think. This is worship music, sure, but it’s also very much music to live by. The things Tim is talking about here are the things that are on my mind as I drive to work drinking some value Seattle’s Best from the BK and asking God to send my car wherever He wants it. It’s what’s on my mind as I pray with my kids at night, as I try to decide what is foolish political posturing and what is redemptive Kingdom work. It’s what puts my comfort at risk but my peace at it’s highest potential. It’s the melding of the “already and not yet” aspects of the Kingdom.
In these questions, and in this desire, I’m very thankful for the company this album has provided.
The album opens with the title track Awake Our Souls, a pulsing anthem that puts the main themes of the album at the forefront. We join in a call to God to awake the souls of His people, to recognize that it is the presence of the King that defines the boundaries of the Kingdom. Listen for hints of Dire Straits-esque synth action, some much-needed freedom for the studio bass man in the bridge, and some surprise low vocal register Timmons at the stop. On the first listen you might get a “Hey Mickey You’re So Fine” vibe in the first few bars; consider that a personal problem.
Dark horse for replacing the perennial VBS favorite “Father Abraham” is Everywhere I Go, a foot-stomping club hoedown of a number that is easy to catch on to. Don’t miss the message here, there’s joy in the everyday walk in the presence of the King. Listen for the breakdown under “There’s a spirit I cannot contain” that brings to mind a 16 bit video game score. Also, if there was a drinking game based upon “oohs” in a Tim Timmons album, this song starts round 1. (Pace yourself, there will be plenty of opportunities.) On the first listen you might get a, “Honey, I’m Good” vibe in the first few bars; consider that a personal problem.
Track 3: Drink. (Told ya, take it easy slick.) Don’t bother trying to recreate the hiccup-like “hup” fella that shows up in the “no more, I’m done” section of Like I’ve Been Changed. That ain’t your skills, holmes. I love that section because where the rest of the song points to where we want to be, those things are the result of the initial realization of giving up our stuff so we can fully commit to what Jesus is up to.
The Outcome is, at least for now, is my favorite track on the album. The gentle, persistent cadence of, “Unless you build the house, unless you build the road, unless you lead the way…it’s all in vain” lays the foundation for the blossoming chorus that calls us to faithfully surrender the outcome of our lives to Jesus. We close every Live From The Path episode with a reminder to be faithful in the means and let God handle the ends; that same sentiment lives here in celebratory surrender. Fellas, although you can likely sing safely along with the “unless you build it” sections, I’d test that falsetto of the chorus out in the car or the shower before you unleash it on the world.
If the opening track calls our souls to awaken to the fresh, bountiful realities of an earthly Kingdom of Jesus, both Rest My Soul and Right Beside Me reflect on the fact that our temporal experiances are still also true and we are subject to “raging seas” and times of cold and darkness. “I will call upon your name, you’re above my circumstance, all my life is in your hands.” The message of both is relatable and oddly comforting in their familiarity and point to the triumph in the chorus of Right Beside Me. Anyone happen to check out Thom Yorke’s “Eraser” album? This one has a little bit of that vibe. (Plenty of drinks in the chorus. You know this is a fruit juice game, right? You can’t live every night on that “there was wine at Cana” bit, friend. Are you at a middle-eastern wedding? That’s what I thought.)
Any of you been part of a prayer room? First of all, do that. Second, take a copy of You Are Good (That I May) in there with you. The words call us simply, deeply and earnestly to the throne of God as we recognize who He is and His innate goodness in spite of our circumstances. “I’ll praise you, not that I have to, not that I ought to, but that I may.” Certainly there are tangible impacts of the good news, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that at the core of all of it is the simple honor of knowing and praising a gracious, loving God. Consider printing the lyrics of this one out poem style.
Spring Up, or perhaps “Christ In Me Pt. 2”, takes up the most succinct expression of the underlying question of how our reality has changed in relation to a present, earthly Kingdom and an active, moving Holy Spirit. “If I believe it, am I living it out?” One of the more radio friendly tunes on the album…well, I don’t know if that’s true. I don’t listen to a lot of radio. Can we agree that it at least sounds legit to say something like that? Anyway, listen for some suspicous tamborine action interspersed throughout the tune. Also, it’s iffy to me if the “ooh ooh” action is legit Timmons, which means if you dove into a 3 oz spike of prune juice in reaction to that, you officially lose. Better luck next time.
Finally Breathing gets swallowed up musically as it is less distinct then the rest of tunes, although don’t miss the meandering brass sailing through the chorus in the back half of the tune. I also might have caught a little auto-tune action; this too shall pass. However, don’t let the lyrics pass. The raw, functional image of breathing, the evidence of true life, adds depth to a theme that has been explored well in some of the other songs.
“Awake Our Souls” rounds out with All I Really Want, a song with a subtle drive and a chorus that grows and swells as it recapitulates, emboldened by the simple abandon it professes.
As a whole, I recommend giving this album 2-3 spins in its entirety before finalizing your reaction to it. Given my familiarity with his first album, this one initially caught me a little off-guard. As I let the songs settle, the words began to prayerfully linger even after the music had ceased. Another listen through and I was able to react to the music with less presumptive ears. I’ll admit that I dig on the more organic Timmons more, but there is plenty to love here. Kudos to the production as well, lots of interesting depth that doesn’t assert itself beyond its character.
Keep this one in the rotation, let it soundtrack your life every now and then.
Awake Our Souls is available where all classy Jesus music is sold or streamed online.