Between aisle seven and the evil spaghetti, Jenny Simmons almost lost it one morning. Though Jenny Simmons and her band Addison Road came to an amicable decision to call it quits after 10 years of being together, the decision had a profound impact on Simmons. After the spotlight dimmed, the applause faded and the hit records stopped, Simmons had to pick up her own life again without all the fanfare.
Initially Simmons thought she was coping brilliantly until one morning when she was in a grocery store. Chronicled in her blog, she tells us that while she was in aisle seven of the grocery store staring at the packets of spaghetti not knowing what to cook for dinner, a sense of failure, emptiness and loneliness overwhelmed her. She felt as if the spaghetti were screaming out words of condemnation at her. After sobbing in front of a complete stranger, she realized that her transition or the time of "in-between" from the glamorous lead singer of the Dove award nominated Addison Road to just a homemaker was not as easy as she thought. After much prayer and contemplation, she decided to sign with Fair Trade Records to tell her stories of how she dealt with the issues of self-worth, fear of the future and her lost of her identity during her "in-between" time in her solo debut "The Becoming."
Teaming with producers Paul Moak (Jennifer Knapp, Third Day & Seabird) and Seth Mosley (Me in Motion, Newsboy & Newsong), "The Becoming" is imbued with a clarion sound. Save for the closing track "Come Healing," the remaining nine cuts range from bubbly pop to summery mid-tempos. There are two kinds of sunny records: there are those type of songs that glee with an insipid care-freeness paying no mind to the things of eternal gravitas. And there are those that acknowledge the mess-ups, failures, pains and mysteries in life. Yet they still persist in rejoicing not because they profess to have the answers but because they believe that God does. These 10 songs belong to the latter. Most transparent is the opening cut, "Where I Belong."
In the context of Simmons' self-doubts during her 'in-between" time, she realizes that her identity is not in the spotlight. Rather, her worth is found in God and God alone: "I don't need a place to call my own/Cause with Him I'm right where I belong." "Heaven Waits for Me" has Simmons rejoicing that the best is yet to come; even after death heaven waits for us. Such a Godly message is couched within an infectious tune over some gorgeous blasts of electric guitars. This lead single of the album ought to be a radio darling in the days to come.
Maybe it is because of the children's hymn "Jesus Loves Me" that functions as the seed thought behind "This I Know," there is a child-like simplicity in this song that is refreshing. Like a shiny lure to hook us are the well crafted phrases found on "What's Faith About?" The entire song is chock full of quotable lines illuminating what it means to trust God in impossible situations. "Broken Hallelujah" (a fabolous title by the way) is another example of Simmons' exquisite lyrics. Here Simmons tells us that we don't need to have it all together to worship God. Those of us in times of transitions (just like Simmons was) "The In-Between" will find Simmons encouraging us to continue to trust the Spirit's guidance for the future.
Two tracks deserve special mentions: the first is "Letting You Go." A testimonial narrative, Simmons confesses how she used to be snookered by Satan's lies to build her worth around her own idols of self-security. Simmons decided to junk these idols and write a "Dear John" letter to Satan. This is not just creativity in display but it hits the theological nail right on the head. The other standout is Simmons' take of Leonard Cohen's "Come Healing." Told from the perspective of Jesus, this ballad is a beautiful invitation by our Lord inviting the weak and broken to come to Him.
"The Becoming" is Simmons' most personal record. Despite Addison Road coming to an end, her stories of how God continues to work in her life rolls on through strong melodic pop tunes that are easy on the ear and warming to the heart. For those of us in the transitions of life, "The Becoming" is our friend prodding us gently to persist in confident faith in our unchanging Savior.