John Ball “John Ball” EP Review

Timothy YapJul 27, 2013 09:53 AM EDT
John Ball
(Photo :John Ball)

The vocabulary of our current worship songs is impoverished.  There are two basically areas where our worship songs bear their most emaciated frames: first, there is a general dearth of Biblical language, metaphors and images in our songs.  Instead we would rather plagiarize words from the love songs of Stevie Wonder, One Direction and Britney Spears in giving expression to the worship of God.  Second, and perhaps the direr of the two, in the guise of trying to be positive many worship songs have avoid expounding on Biblical themes such as sin, lament, hell and repentance.  John Ball's sophomore effort is an important release because it rectifies these two faux pas.  Ball is a singer/songwriter originally from Birmingham, AL, now residing with his wife in Nashville, TN.   By way of playing in the band "I Am Terrified "and leading worship under Daniel Bashta (Integrity Records), Ball entered into the Christian music industry.  Through the financial backings of friends and his supporters via the Kickstarter program, Ball has released this self titled EP under the eye of producer Joshua D. Niles (Audio Adrenaline, Apache Relay & JJ Heller).

Sonically, this EP of six songs co-written or written by Ball, these songs fall between the crevices of post-grunge anthemic rock and more ethereal theatrical rock balladry.  With crunchy guitars and insistent percussion "When I Kept Silent"speaks of Ball's inability to stop praising Jesus for all the things the Savior has done.  Getting into a bluesy beat ballad is the Isaiah 6 based "Woe to Me."  Noteworthy though are the words: when was the last time have we heard a song that laments over sin?  In an age where the word "sin" is often view as an embarrassment to our positivistic Gospel, "Woe to Me" sounds so counter-cultural.  Yet, it is such a Godly song; without a hatred towards sin we will never appreciate the Cross in its beauty.  Ball's mettle as an excellent lyrics shows again in narrative driven "On My Own."  Writing like C. S. Lewis' in his "The Great Divorce," Ball tells of visiting a dying town. This is a modern parable that has so many telling points about the futility of life without Christ.

Not only does Ball deal with issues that span across the demands of the Gospel, his rhetoric is soaked with Scriptural forethought.  Here's a sample from the song "Your Faithfulness:"  "We're but a mist, still you insist we could be worthy/And though we are stained, your love unrestrained is leading us home."  Notice how each of the phrase in this doublet can be traced to Scripture.  There are some albums made for great sing alongs, and then there are some made as food for the mind and the soul.  Ball's latest EP belongs to the latter:  this is a collection of songs that will make us think, talk and grow towards greater holiness.  If worship music today lacks nourishment, John Ball's latest EP is spiritual pabulum.    




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