Prime Cuts: Steady Me, Getting Started, This Too Shall Pass
Overall Grade: 3/5
Jeremy Camp, with 40 #1 songs, 5 million albums sold, a GRAMMY Award nomination, 3 American Music Award nominations, and 5 Dove Awards, is one of CCM's most popular artists right now. His hugely popular movie I Still Believe and his previous album The Story's Not Over, are now followed up with Camp's first new studio album in two years, When You Speak. Already gaining traction with radio, this album has been spearheaded by a slew of singles, including the title cut "When You Speak."
Written during the pandemic, the title cut "When You Speak" expresses our yearning to hear from God despite the competing voices of the world. The thumping bluesy stripped-down verses that give way to its dynamic chorus, "When You Speak" is a stellar piece. Expressed as a personal note to fans who have been overwhelmed by shame and discouragements, "Getting Started" is filled with visceral warmth. "Steady Me" (a song that can even work as a congregational worship song) is earmarked with all of Camp's signature charms from his expressive muscular tenor to its God-exalting lyrics.
However, songs such as "Break Your Promises," "Can't Take Away," and "One Desire" are geared so much towards radio that they come across as predictable and unmemorable. They are not bad in themselves, but they are so non-descript that they blend into one another. The synth-driven "Anxious Heart" and the hymn-like "This Too Shall Pass" which move tangentially from the commercial template are more welcoming.
Another criticism of the album lies in the lyrical department. Many of the songs hover around the same issue of how God is trustworthy, and we need to depend on him. Certainly, this is a theme that bares reminders, but Camp doesn't seem to deviate too much from it. Further, many of the lyrics lack biblical or artistic depth. Many of the songs seemed to be churn out of one's feelings rather than after a long, thoughtful, and serious mediation on the Bible. One would love to see Camp wrestle more with scripture rather than alluding to well-known verses here and there.