Prime Cuts: Religion Isn't Working, 24 Hours, Judas
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Songs are like well-taken photos. With the right angling and with the right amount of light, a good photo can be differentiated from an average counterpart. A good photo needs to bring new shade, color, meaning, and perspective to what may be a familiar scene. The topics that Joseph Habedank deal with on this new record may not be new, but he brings perspectives that are refreshing and awe-inspiring. Habedank describes Change is Coming as his most important record in his career because many of issues the songs deal with, such as addiction, Judas, the rebellious side to Christ's ministry and so forth, are important to him. Instead of delving into these topics on autopilot, Habedank tells them in contexts and vocabularies that are palatable and engaging, making many of the songs take on a brand new lease of life.
Change is Coming, Habedank's followup to 2019's Deeper Oceans, contains 10 brand new songs produced by Wayne Haun, Lindsay Habedank and Habedank himself. Having a hand in co-writing all 10 songs, Habedank has also teamed up with some of the industry's most esteemed songwriters including Jason Cox, Scotty Inman, Jonathan Smith, Tony Wood, Michael Farren, Jesse Reeves, Nick Romes, Kenna Turner West, Dave Clark, Don Koch, Benji Cowart, Lee Black, Sue C. Smith, and Wayne Haun.
The album's most arresting track is the record's lead single "Religion Isn't Working." This power-ballad speaks of how a man's frustrations with the pretence of religion comes to a breaking point. Longing for something that is real, Habedank's dramatic unfailing of the song's emotions deserves multiple standing ovations. When you have something this good, it's a tall order for the rest of the songs to measure up. But thankfully, "24 Hours" and "Rise Above Eden" come close. Though there are many songs that deal with the issue of addiction, with "24 Hours" Habedank zooms in at a different angle. Situating the song within the realism of a story, "24 Hours" deals with how the protagonist overcomes his addiction with the help of his spouse, prayers, and the power of the Gospel.
While many are quick to throw rocks of condemnation at Judas for betraying Jesus, Habedank offers a grace-filled retelling of the story in "Judas." Bringing the story to life with vivid descriptions and lots of thoughtful nuances, "Judas" deserves repeated listenings. Less imaginative and less engaging is the propulsive pop-centric "Rebel Without a Cause" which centers around the revolutionary ways of Jesus. Jesus' second coming is the theme of "Thief in the Night." The song is prided for its acapella into and the song's dramatic percussion riffs. Meanwhile, the contemporary-sounding "Jericho" has the word "single" written all over it.
To Habedank, Change is Coming may be his most important record, but it is also one of his best. Taking the grand themes of the bible and viewing them from fresh angles, this is how the truths of God are appreciated in new ways. Ways that are palpable, heartfelt, and gloriously depicted.