Not every consumer understands this, but when he or she picks up a new album, book, or DVD, they’re not just consuming a chunk of media, they’re combing through–often without realizing it–an intimate log book of the weeks, months, and (in some cases) years of a person’s life that surrounded the making of that art.
Hannah Kerr, the new Christian singer who has just released her debut album “Overflow,” knows this first-hand, and she sums up the process (and the hope) of an artist well:
“This album is a product of the last three years of my life and the way God has moved and shaped me through them. I’m praying that the truth and love that He’s poured into me will overflow into the hearts of all who listen, and that lives will be impacted for the better.”
The flow of themes and moods from song to song on “Overflow” give the listener the sense of life’s seasons and journeys–from the album’s beginning, a resolute conviction to press on and overcome and stay true to Christ in “Warrior” and “Undivided” to the pangs of brokenness, the vulnerable cries for God and reliance on Him, in “Never Leave Your Side,” “Your Love Defends Me,” and “Mercy Won” (just to name a few).
As far as the music itself, for me, and this is just personal taste, much hinges on the timbre (tone color) of the singer’s voice. The tone color of Hannah Kerr’s voice, especially when she belts the well-written hooks, caught my attention. I know this is a tired custom, to point out secular analogues to Christian artists, but Hannah’s voice, when she belts it, has an aggressive, head-turning edge to it that reminds me of secular artist Pink. (The belting chorus hooks on “Undivided” and “I Stand Here” are clear examples of what I mean.)
That kind of singing in those moments, with just a very slight, affecting growl around the edges, like a light distortion pedal added to vocals, adds an affecting power and drama to the song much the same way certain operatic vocal techniques add emotion and impact to scenes in opera. (In my view, aggressive, powerful singing is not the evil fruit of godless rock and roll, but a tool of dramatic storytelling as old as the classic opera houses of France and Italy.)
Though, to be clear, I’m zeroing in on nuances. All of the above are just inflections of tone color that come out at certain moments. In the verses and quieter moments, Hannah sings with quiet elegance and carefully intoned beauty.
And the album’s production and songwriting is well-crafted, from the little things, like the use of reverb-soaked synth arpeggios that add texture behind the music’s foreground in the verses of “Radiate,” to the big melodies of the hooks–plenty of memorable and infectious songwriting to go around on this album.
Another wonderful thing that comes through in the music: Hannah’s heart for God and people. This shows in her work outside of music, especially with Youth For Tomorrow:
Another important announcement was made today, with Kerr being named the 1st Ambassador spokesperson for Youth For Tomorrow’s (YTF) new awareness and fundraising campaign, “YFT HeartBeats,” promoting the importance and impact of music and arts therapy. Additional information is available HERE.
Youth For Tomorrow, was founded in 1986 by legendary NFL Coach and NASCAR Team Owner, Joe Gibbs, and is based within the outskirts of the Nation’s Capital region in Bristow, Virginia. YFT provides five residential programs as a safe haven for at-risk teens whose lives are in crisis. In addition, the Behavioral Health programs provide children of all ages and families life changing therapeutic care for the overburdened child and family care systems. Last year Youth For Tomorrow served over 8,200 children, youth and families including veterans and members of the military.
Some exciting times await Hannah, for sure. She will be touring with the band for KING & COUNTRY soon. After I had the chance to speak with Luke Smallbone over the phone last year, I can say first-hand that she is in for a treat when she joins for KING & COUNTRY’s team on the road. Like her, they have a genuine heart for ministry. God is raising up powerful voices to speak to this generation. It is deeply encouraging.
Keep up with Hannah at her various online homes: