Posted in Christian Album of the Year, Hawk Nelson, Music, my thoughts

Diamond in the Rough – 2015 Album of the Year Nominee – Part 1

Diamonds – Hawk Nelson




Introductory thoughts
There’s “Christian” music, and then there’s Christian music.  The former has the label of Christian but most of the actual music doesn’t touch too much on the truth of Christianity.  Sure, the members of the bands of that genre are probably followers of Christ, but the music has increasingly secular themes.  
The latter is truly Christian in theme, vibe, storytelling nous.  The faith of the creators of the music infuses everything.  Interestingly, when I first heard any of Hawk Nelson’s music, I would have classified them in the former category.  However, with their 2013 offering Made and now their latest album Diamonds they have cemented themselves firmly in the latter classification.    
Made renewed my love for Hawk Nelson.
Diamonds cemented their place in my heart as the best Christian band out there.
I still think it’s kind of ironic how I became a Hawk Nelson listener.  Simple Plan has influenced my music collection a lot.  Who would think they’d lead me to my all time favourite Christian band, though? And the members of Hawk Nelson were inspired by Simple Plan as well.  
Daniel Biro (bassist) said in an interview in 2013, “Simple Plan was a big influence on me as well.  I loved going to their shows in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada area and Warped Tour etc.  What a great live act.  Very entertaining, and some quality, catchy pop punk rock songs.  I liked Untitled a lot.”
Anyway, I digress.  I want to share with you my thoughts on the album Diamonds.  
As you well know, I don’t really do reviews.  This will be more an opinion piece.  But, that makes sense right?  Because the enjoyment of music is a subjective experience.  And everyone has different feelings and experiences when listening to exactly the same music as someone else.  
Before I begin my thoughts on each individual song, though, I should mention how I even stumbled onto the album.  I wasn’t even aware that Diamonds was released this year until I was listening to 98.5 Sonshine FM (Christian radio here in Perth) and the second song off the album, Drops in the Ocean happened to air.  That surprised me, but I also instantly fell in love with the song and that lead to me discovering the rest of the album.  It caused a lot of excitement for me, especially as I’m still waiting for Simple Plan’s 5th album.  You could say Hawk Nelson is a great second best… (Maybe even better?  We’ll have to wait and see…)
One other thing, I really really want to see this band live….and I’m kind of semi-jealous that my fiancé got to do that last year at EasterFest.  Though I did get to do an email interview with the bassist Daniel Biro in 2013 (incidentally that’s where my earlier quote above was from ;)).
Anyway, enough of that, moving on to my thoughts on the album itself.  
Here are my thoughts on the first 5 songs  of the album.  I will share the rest and a concluding thought in part 2.

Diamonds
The title track opens with a strong drum beat that heralds the beginning of the whole album.  Sometimes when I hear the opening track of an album, I wonder why the band chose the particular song as the first song.  However, with this song I am left with no doubt.  Hawk Nelson made the right choice in using the title track as the first song.  The message they’re sending is a firm and faith-filled one.  They want to make it clear that God is working in our lives no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in.  And that God can use even the most broken people.
Oh the joy of the Lord
It will be my strength
When the pressures on
He’s making diamonds

He’s making diamonds
Diamonds
Making us rise out from the dust
He is refining in his timing
He’s making diamonds out of dust
He’s making diamonds out of us.

I love these lyrics, the analogy of us being dust and then God using the pressures in our lives to turn us into diamonds is a very beautiful image to hold in ones mind.  Because it is so true.  
This song sets the tone for the rest of the album, preparing the heart for an injection of joy and the promises of God and that everything He is and does is good.

Drops in the Ocean
This is the first song from Diamonds that I heard.  The song is narrated from God’s perspective, which makes for a powerful message.  He says, “If you wanna see how much you mean to me/Look at my hands, look at my side.” A reminder of the blood that was shed on the Cross for each of us.  And then he repeats, “I am for you, not against you” several times.  This is something that I cling to whenever times get tough.  The knowledge that God, who is so Holy, so powerful, loves me a flawed, fragile human being…that’s just amazing.  

Just Getting Started
You know that saying “it’s not over until the fat lady sings”, well I think the first line of this song alludes to that; We’re stepping into the ring, won’t let that lady sing/it’s over when we say it’s over.  A clever way to open a song that seems to me to be talking about their own personal journey as a band.  
Their previous album Made was quite a departure from their earlier work.  Not only was it more explicit about their faith journey, the style of music became more pop rock than their earlier work which was more pop punk.  

Diamonds is even more pop influenced and the influence of their faith is so strong and I believe this song refers to the fact that this is only the beginning of the musical journey in this direction and that we should expect more of it it in the future.
Live Like You’re Loved  
This song is a proclamation of God’s love over us and that we need to remember that He is completely for us.  It talks of the fact that God values every single one of us and through His grace He has taken away all shame, all guilt and “gave us a reason to sing“.  
Go ahead and be who He made you to be.  

God has given us permission to be our true selves.  The self that He says we are.  
Live like you’re loved
Walk like you’re free 
Stand like you know who He made you to be
Live like you’re loved
Like you believe
His love is all that you’ll ever need

These lyrics are sung like a declaration, like a victory song and should be felt that way as God is the victor, over sin and death. 
And all because He loves us.
Sold Out
In a world full of followers 
I’ll be a leader
In a world full of doubters 
I’ll be a believer…
I’m stepping out without a hesitation 
I ain’t got nothing left to be afraid of.

I’m sold out 
I’m no longer living just for myself
Running after Jesus with my whole heart
And now I’m ready to show
I am sold out!”

This song has fast become my favourite. It’s an anthem to how I feel about my faith. I’m not afraid to show who I follow and where my trust is.  I’m going public (at least on social media, ha). 
“No trials coming against me
Can put a dent in my passion
They’re just an opportunity
To put my faith into action.”

These words speak so much truth; I’ve literally found that when trouble hits my passion for Jesus doubles, triples.  I find myself worshipping God even more in those moments and leaning in further to His Word.

Part 2 – http://plutobob.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/diamonds-in-rough-2015-album-of-year.html


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