Tuesday, May 22, 2012

MercyMe: The Hurt and the Healer Review

MercyMe has been a band since 1994. The CCM group released six independent albums before signing with INO Records (now known as Fairtrade Services) in 2001. It was then that the band’s first national single “I Can Only Imagine” hit radio, making MercyMe one of the most recognizable Christian acts. Since then, the group has released five more albums and a greatest hits album, in addition to winning several Dove Awards, earning Platinum success, and seeing many of their songs reach #1 on radio. Now, MercyMe is back with a brand-new ten-track album on Fairtrade, titled The Hurt and the Healer.

The album opens up with two fun tracks, “You Know Better” and “You Don’t Care It All.” Both of them have a sentiment similar to their 2006 hit “So Long Self,” which is very cool. The latter of the two especially is a rocker with strong lyrics that will have the listener singing along in no time, and has a powerful message of forgiveness: “All of my yesterdays/ all of my past mistakes/ You’ve thrown them all away/ You don’t care at all, You don’t care at all/ No matter what I do/ what I am going through/ it’s already died with You/ You don’t care at all…” There are plenty of fill-ins, and Bart Millard’s vocals are accentuated through the bridge where he shows off his higher vocals. In addition, a lead guitar instrumental helps makes “You Don’t Care At All” easily my favorite off The Hurt and the Healer.

Slowing down noticeably, cheery bells and choirs compose the title track, a mellow but powerful radio single from this album. Speaking from utter brokenness, it is a song of surrender and restoration that belongs excellently in MercyMe’s ever-growing list of #1 singles.

“To Whom It May Concern” follows on a jolly, somewhat jazzy note that serves “to remind you that you are not what you have done.” This song would have to be my second favorite, and I love that MercyMe added several of these fun, unique tracks to keep their album from going down the mundane side. With strong drums, “You Are I Am” is a recognition that God is exactly what we need, though our emotions often tell us otherwise.

With a soothing country feel, “Take the Time” follows, featuring NEEDTOBREATHE’s Bear. It sounds very comparable to a NEEDTOBREATHE song for this reason, but it takes a complete U-turn musically near its ending, which, when combined with Bear and Bart’s combined vocals, is breathtaking!

“Don’t Give Up On Me” sounds a little like a battle anthem, speaking of God’s unfailing love for each of us, while the contemporary campfire tune “Hold On” celebrates the wonderful life that God has given to each of us. It is very descriptive, assuring the listener: “And the wonder of it is, you ain’t seen nothing yet!”

“Best of Me” is light during the verses, where Bart’s vocals are filtered with an electronic effect, and the song builds through the powerful chorus, speaking of how God is our everything and reminding the listener that we are nothing apart from Him. The album closes with a breathtaking piano track, “The First Time,” celebrating God’s mercies which are new every morning. Bart’s vocals sound better than ever in this soft and soothing closing track.

Whether you’ve been a fan of MercyMe for a longtime, or if you have just been hearing their singles on Christian radio for several years now and are interested in their music, The Hurt and the Healer is a must-have album! Several of the tracks are more on the fun pop side that fans love from them most, but they don’t leave out the worshipful side that defines their success at radio. The Hurt and the Healer could very likely be this thriving band’s best project yet!

Rating: 4.5/5
Release date: May 22, 2012

Track listing:
1. You Know Better
2. You Don’t Care At All
3. The Hurt and The Healer
4. To Whom It May Concern
5. You Are I Am
6. Take the Time
7. Don’t Give Up On Me
8. Hold On
9. Best of Me
10. The First Time

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