by Sam Robinson
There’s no doubt about it, Aaron Gillespie has one impressive resume. At the young age of fourteen he began metalcore act Underoath, which went on to huge popularity. Following this he fronted another band, The Almost; and more recently Aaron became the fill-in drummer for massive band Paramore on their world tour of last year.
It’s surprising then, that Aaron Gillespie has found time to write and record a new album of worship music, Grace Through the Wandering. When we last spoke with Aaron back in 2013, he told us that he was about to start making this album, and it’s taken around eighteen months to see release. This isn’t his first solo worship effort, first album Anthem Song dropped in 2011, but this new album from Aaron is a mixed bag of sounds and styles, strung together by joyful lyrics of praise to our great God.
Grace… opens with foot-stomping pop on Wake Us Up, a song that could easily be sung by churches on a Sunday morning, particularly because of the communal nature of the lyrics. The words ask for God to make change in our lives: ‘We ask you to change us, and awake us… Change us by your grace.’ This sentiment runs throughout the album, asking for God to change and grow us, according to his will.
The shouts of joy continue on Praise Him. I’ve no doubt this song will thrive on Christian radio with its bright pop sounds and responsive worship: ‘Jesus the light of salvation – we praise him! We praise him!’
Meet Me mixes sub-bass with jangly acoustic guitar. The thrust of the song is the line ‘Meet me as I am’, which I found hard to connect with. It’s true that Jesus draws us to himself, and meets us as we are, but we should be willing to change. All That He Says I Am is about our new identity in Christ and what that means for us. Musically it’s slower and softer, but is still a hard-hitting pop ballad.
The high point of the album comes in the middle with the tracks Keep Me In and You Alone Are God. The first is more moody in sound, with spooky synths and haunting backing vocals. It’s a very creative song. The latter brings back the upbeat worship vibes, with a hit of U2-esque guitars and words of praise: ‘The hope of the world – the risen one – you alone are God!’
In You There’s Hope brings a danceable groove; and Hold Me Close surprises with soft, electronic drum and synth loops. It’s a sound unlike any other song on Grace…, including a very near dubstep rhythm. Aaron’s vocals seem to miss the mark towards the end of the track, but I’ve no doubt this is due to the experimental nature of the song.
The album closes with hymn Come Thou Fount, although not as you know it. It begins with the original melody, but then morphs into a new one. The arrangement is extremely bluesy, one that wouldn’t be out of place on The Almost’s Fear Inside Our Bones record. It’s an interesting way to end the album, and shows Aaron’s versatility in sound and ability.
Grace Through the Wandering is a little in-cohesive musically, but it’s hard to flaw the heartfelt lyrics of praise peppered throughout this album. That Gillespie could reach such mainstream success yet continue to stand firm in his faith and desire to make music of this nature is something to thank God for. This might not win over fans of Underoath and The Almost fans, but is well worth grabbing if you like worship music with a little edge. I’m giving it three stars.
Grace Through the Wandering by Aaron Gillespie will be released Tuesday 3rd February and can be pre-ordered on iTunes. We will be speaking with Aaron about the album in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, catch up on our last chat with him from back in 2013.