Prime Cuts: Tomorrow, Revenant, Sos (with Harvest)
Overall Grade: 4.5/5
Andrew Ripp has been described as "a respected songwriter with the voice of an artist." With songs featured on American Idol, One Tree Hill and Live to Dance, Andrew Ripp is more than a respected songwriter. His songs have been coveted by almost every artists stretching over genres, from Zach Williams to Ryan Cabrera. As an artist he has scored a couple of #1 albums on iTunes singer-songwriters' charts with his previous releases such as "Fifty Miles to Chicago" and "She Remains the Same." Even before the release of this new album, one of its singles, "Jericho," has already sat on the penthouse of Billboard's Christian Airplay chart. Therefore, the anticipation is high when Ripp finally drops his first full-length album since his 2015 eponymous effort.
For "Evergreen," Ripp returns to his pop-centric template where he infuses his soulful compositions with fresh energetic beats. "Jericho" is one such example. With Joshua 6 as the song's basis, "Jericho" reminds us of how believing in God's promises can cause all our fears to come down like the famous walls did. Surrounded by thundering percussion to signal the fall of our own false pretenses, "Helpless Without You" is a raw and riveting cry of surrender to God. Harvest (who is the sister of worship leader Daniel Bashta) sounds fabulous as she trades lines with Ripp on "Sos."
Deserving to be a huge hit is "Revenant." Everything about this track is a stand-out: from its swirling keyboard sounds to its ear-grabbing melody. However, what needs to be widely circulated is the song's message: sometimes we have to die to all our earthly dependences before we know what true joy is. The opening line is a sermon in itself: "It took losing everything I knew/To find out what I really had." "Tomorrow," which borrows some chords from the theme song of the 80s movie "Annie," may not be as powerful. But "Tomorrow's" slower tempo and Ripp's emotive nuances make this another highlight.
With his penchant for songs with place names (e.g., "Fifty Miles to Chicago"), "Back to Brooklyn" is this album's contribution. Though not really a religious-themed song, "Brooklyn" is prided for its attention paid to details. You can almost "see" the song coming alive when Ripp sings, "Watching snow covered pines as they slow down the time, all the minutes can feel like they're days." Again, such poetic beauty is evident in "Roses;" a song that speaks of how nothing ever catches God by surprise.
There are far too many songs in CCM that thrive on lazy songwriting, where cliches are used to express frivolous thoughts. This is not so with Ripp. With "Evergreen," he has crafted a ruminative collection that often goes deep to explore the truths of our faiths. And with copious memorable lines, Ripp really knows how to go for our minds and hearts.