Music Review: Lifer by Mercy Me

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October 30, 2017
Music Review: Lifer by Mercy Me
MercyMe - Even If (Official Lyric Video)

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Track Listing

You Found Me
Grace Got You
Best News Ever
Even If
Hello Beautiful
We Win
Happy Dance
Heaven's Here

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The best-selling, and Grammy nominated, band behind 'I Can Only Imagine' return with this, their newest studio album. Lifer is an album for those of you who love your worship to be uplifting, powerful, and meaningful. These are songs for everyday faith, and songs to celebrate the gift God has given you. Word to carry in your heart wherever you are..

The songs on Lifer are uplifting, and filled with (appropriately enough) life. They soar with the same heart that can be found on each and every one of MercyMe's songs. It is their energy and passion for God that have led MercyMe to becoming one of the best-selling Christian artists of all time, with massive hits dominating secular charts as much as Christian ones.

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Lifer by Mercy Me
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It can be hard to keep evolving as an artist when the world of popular music never stops. This is MercyMe's ninth album since signing with a label and it is, arguably, their best yet, and their most contemporary sound. This is a mature and confident album, but do not mistake maturity for mellow, this is fun and uplifting from the start. It's probably fair to say "I Can Only Imagine" is the song and style that we all associate with this band, well this album is nothing like that, and I mean that in a good way!

"Lifer" starts out with it's title track, there's a quirky introduction before zipping into a funky dance number that wouldn't be out of place coming from someone like Bruno Mars or even Pharrell Williams. It's a great funky, upbeat start to this album with a catchy hook keeping you listening. The idea of being a lifer, a term that is normally used for someone in prison on a life sentence is not necessarily an appealing idea, but here they make it mean being committed to something for life. Once you make that commitment to Christ it is for life, but it's a two way thing the Holy Spirit who dwells in you is also there for life.

This same sentiment is continued in "You Found Me" which looks at the idea of a child playing hide and seek, as us trying to hide our guilt from God, how God knows us and that we are already forgiven. This is a great image that it's easy to miss as you get carried along with the tune which is another very uplifting number. It talks about God counting looking for us, but while He's still counting in this game he's already forgiven and forgotten! There's a funky sound that makes "Grace Got You" bounce along, this track shows more about how this group are mixing things up when they call on the services of spoken-word / rap artist John Reuben who is a very welcome addition!

"Best News Ever" is an interesting look at the worries that surround us in life and informs the listener that 'the fight has already been won' and 'the work has already been done' and this is not just 'good news' but 'the best news ever'. This track feels like it's actually been written as a reminder for the struggling believer, but also for those of no faith as an introduction to the Gospel, and it works well on both of these understandings!

"Even If" gives us a bit of a rest from the dance numbers with a more focused ballad that is just about pressing into God through the hardest times. This seems very personal asking the question of how you continue to stand and encourage others from the stage and it's easy when things are going well, but what about when you face a hard time? Here this chorus seems to take inspiration from the book of Daniel when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are facing the fiery furnace they express belief that God will save them and then they say "but even if He does not..." their hope will not be in other gods. This is a moving track which faces the idea that our solution to a problem isn't always the same as Gods!

The second half of this album is very much focused on remembering that God does move, He has done more for us already than we can know. The idea of freedom is expressed well in "Hello Beautiful". Sometimes when we feel trapped we forget that we are actually already free, the chains have been broken and we can believe the witness of the Holy Spirit inside of us, expressed brilliantly in the last line of the last chorus "I'm reminded that what's inside has not forgotten me." The next track is a big and bold statement both in it's content and it's tone. A big anthem style tune accompanies the reminder that in this life, no matter what knocks us over "We Win". Not, of course, because of anything to do with us, but totally to do with Christs victory - this track comes complete with the catchy anthem "Ain't no stopping us, He's not done with us, we are more than conquerors". Great, rousing victory cry over the defeat that this life can pour over us - We Win!

"Happy Dance" is just fun, we've got a reason to rejoice and dance, no matter what your dancing is like, we live like we are free! Then there is the controversial "Heaven's Here" because this is a theological point. Some would argue that Heaven is when you die, but this song intimates that Heaven is here, it starts now, although still living we have stepped into eternity and our viewpoint should express this and we should worship like we are already worshipping with the angels. The last track on the album is "Ghost" and it's the second ballad. It's looking at the idea of us being inhabited by the Holy Ghost (most people use the term Holy Spirit these days) and what it means and although it's got some merit, it feels like it's trying to be deliberately obscure in its references. It also doesn't feel as well rounded as the other tracks on this album, certainly not when compared to "Even If".

Overall this album is a great step forward in the evolution of MercyMe. It's a lot of fun, it's encouraging and the musical style is very current. I was playing this album for a friend and they thought that this was a compilation, which says a lot for the diversity of the music. Despite that diversity the theme is strong and this is an encouraging album which basically reminds us all that we became lifers when we accepted Jesus, but that is a two-way commitment. He's won the victory on the grand scale, but He also goes before us in those smaller personal battles , and even if the outcome is not what we expect, ultimately - we win!

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