Album: Wide Awake

Artist: Paxson and Allison Jeancake

Skip To: Right Hand of the Father

Throughout my life in church, I have never hidden my thoughts on most Christian music. I find much of it repetitive and shallow and I feel it gets a pass to be poor quality because of the message. Paxson and Allison – whom I was blessed to know while they were the worship leaders at my church – provide a beautiful and stark contrast to mainstream worship music. With thoughtful lyrics and lovely instrumentation, I continuously go back to Wide Awake for spiritual rejuvenation.

The album begins with “Always and Forever (God You Are),” an upbeat song marked by exciting electric guitar solos, lovely harmonies, and complex instrumentation. “Lead Us To Heaven” perpetuates a similar feel and utilizes even more electric guitar. While it maintains the praising theme of the previous track, there is a distinct yearning sense to the lyrics. The subsequent track, “Wide Awake,” takes a step back in energy and has a more reverent feel. However, it doesn’t sacrifice the multi-layered instrumentation but instead redirects it to generate a very different tone.

“Right Hand of the Father,” quieter and minor, features harmonies between Paxson and Allison perhaps the most out of any track, and to a stunning effect. It also includes a guitar solo at the end that is simultaneously reverent and leads well into  “Heaven’s What We’re Made For.” The song returns to the energy of the beginning tracks, only to slip back into a more reserved tone in “Holy Things.” While it switches from minor in the verses to major in the chorus, it ends on a lovely minor chord that leaves the listener wanting more. The penultimate track, “Beauty From Ashes,” begins with a lovely piano solo before leading into heavier guitar as a backbone but continues to feature piano throughout. The album concludes with “God For Us,” a beautiful wrap-up that meshes many elements of the other songs together. Parts of it are praising and upbeat; other parts are more reverent. Striking harmonies characterize the chorus and personally, I find the lyrics to be the most hopeful on the album.

For all this album’s musical brilliance, I am most in love with its message of hope. Many modern worship songs praise God shallowly or become so reverent that hope seems to get lost. Wide Awake does neither: it tells the story of hope in every song in many different ways, rather than through repetition. Paxson and Allison are truly gifted musicians and wonderful people.