by Sam Robinson
With a super fast flow and rich lyrics penned from a love for the gospel, Humble Beast artist Jackie Hill Perry is about to drop new album The Art of Joy. The record is a very joyous affair, although it’s one of those albums that you need to listen through a number of times to understand the bigger picture of what’s happening, and discover that Jackie’s true joy is found in the gospel.
Jackie is a gun storyteller and a master poet, and has an ability to transport you into the tales she spins, with good humour and strong conviction. There are a number of moments on The Art of Joy that hit me hard, challenging me to love Jesus better, love those around me better, and most of all find my joy in my identity in Christ.
The album opens with brief track The Argument before launching into Educated Fool, which challenges the norm of what true knowledge is. Jackie raps about scholars and Eve in the garden over a scratchy beat, and then challenges us to not be like the Pharisees, who knew the scriptures but didn’t recognise the Saviour, for their knowledge was within themselves. True knowledge is God-given. Colossians 1 is on show here, and it’s clear that Jackie knows her Bible and wants us to as well.
Better (ft. JGivens & Natalie Lauren) has some slick production, and some deep poetry. The song calls us to live for the truth: ‘You gotta see something better than the stuff around you… than the pretty treasures trying to drown you.’ Miss Fearful gives a nod to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Give It Away but twists it with a hopeful note, ‘You can sing a song of freedom!’ I love the synth sounds on the chorus and the rich juxtapositions painted of fear and freedom.
The Solution (ft. Eshon Burgundy) flies thick and fast and speaks of a life change that can only brought about by the gospel: ‘True love is not cheap.’
Dead Preacher (with killer production from Beautiful Eulogy) tells the story of a church minister who teaches the Bible by ‘flipping the book like a gymnast’, picking and choosing, taking things out of context, and sharing his own understanding of the scriptures. But then he reads it properly and find joy in the truth: ‘My soul is richer than it has ever been.’
One of the standout tracks for me is I Just Wanna Get There. The song is built on a base of glitchy sounds and intricate timings, and the repeated phrase that sticks in your mind is ‘God, you’re making me better.’ The song rejoices in Christ and his healing of our sin, references Romans 7:14-20, and challenges us to realise that God’s sovereignty is above everything. He is in control of everything that happens, so perhaps there’s no such thing as a ‘mistake’. This honestly hit me really hard, as did Ode to Lauryn. Lauryn Hill of Fugees fame is clearly a big influence on Jackie’s style, but she opens up here about just how much of a hero Lauryn has been in her upbringing. On this love letter, Jackie reaches out to Lauryn (who has had a few troubled years recently) and expresses her desire for Lauryn to know the gospel of Jesus for herself. It’s quite moving, and I hope Lauryn gets to hear the track: ‘You’re a legend, hope to see you in heaven, Lauryn.’
The Art of Joy closes with the title track which is a very upbeat, positive way to close proceedings. Jackie shares more about the ways she has searched for joy, and concludes that ‘Satisfaction only happens to those who are glad in you.’ It’s a call to know the gospel for yourself, live it out, and share it with others.
Jackie Hill Perry has done great things on this album, only through the strength she gets from her Saviour. Her honesty is bold, and her love for the gospel is evident throughout the record. It oozes truths from scripture and skilful production, and it reminds listeners that God is in control of all things, and gives us joy in Christ. I’m giving The Art of Joy four stars.
The Art of Joy by Jackie Hill Perry will be released this Tuesday, 4th November. It will be available as a free download at Humble Beast, and if you want to support Jackie’s ministry, you can pre-order it now on iTunes.