Jody McBrayer’s New Album ‘Keep Breathing’ Worth the Wait
There was a point in Jody McBrayer’s life when he probably thought he would never sing on a stage again–certainly not in the kind of setting he had known with the acclaimed Christian group Avalon. When he was diagnosed with heart disease, he left the music industry and entered the corporate world.
And, I have to say, after working in a corporate-like desk job for 10 years, I know that would be a difficult transition. They are two different worlds. Not that being a touring musician constantly away from home and family is a cakewalk, but the two worlds are different beasts. They have drastically different paces and mindsets of life.
Making any kind of career change is stressful enough, but throw in serious medical problems and you’ve got a recipe that can send anyone to rock-bottom. And that’s exactly where McBrayer found himself–so much so that the two words that would become his motivation were “keep breathing.” I can only imagine how it took all of his strength to get up in the morning and push through each day.
But he wasn’t the only one pushing. He had Someone in his corner every step of the way. And this Someone, Jesus Christ, had different plans than what McBrayer expected in his life.
Flash-forward years later to 2016, and Jody McBrayer is back. God, through a series of events (which you read about in the “about” section below), restored McBrayer’s ministry and former career as a musician. His new solo album, aptly titled “Keep Breathing” is a powerful testament to God’s restorative work.
And it was certainly worth the wait.
The album has a wonderfully balanced feel to it–equal part upbeat, joyous, and head-bobbing, but also stirring and contemplative with ballads. Yes, most albums go for that combo, but not every album does it well. McBrayer’s new album pulls it off. I enjoyed the slow songs as much as the fast ones. The ballad “Only You (I Speak Your Name)” rolls out smoothly into one of my favorite chord progressions of the album, sustained by a tastefully executed piano and plenty of breathing room throughout the verse. (Letting chords ring out, utilizing silence as much as any chord or instrument–i.e. treating silence as a separate instrument–and allowing songs to move with sparseness is always a sign of production/songwriting maturity, in my opinion.)
And the message of “Only You (I Speak Your Name)” accomplishes its thematic goal: it sets our eyes on Christ.
Yes, there are ballads, but in both the ballads and mid-tempo songs, there’s a cinematic appeal. The songs take shape in the stereo field with the weight of a movie soundtrack. It’s epic, in the true sense of the word (not the overused cliched sense of the word). And McBrayer’s insanely powerful vocals (and unbelievable range) are in there element in that kind of production. “This Is A Son” is a perfect example. Images of Christ play in the mind like a Passion play with each measure of music. McBrayer’s voice captures the emotional drama like a Stradivarius violin solo in a symphony. And I don’t think I’m being overdramatic here. Virtuosic vocals, solid songwriting, and this kind of well-crafted production tends to create big results. Though I’d clarify my praise: I’m not saying that bigger production is always better. It’s always a risk. The bigger you go the more labor it takes to execute it tastefully. “Keep Breathing” is clearly the fruit of that kind of careful labor.
And speaking of “Keep Breathing,” the title track, co-written by McBrayer, just sums up the whole effect of the album. It rejuvenates and inspires you. And it’s good medicine for anyone at rock-bottom.
In McBrayer’s own words:
“Sometimes…with some people…God has to literally break your heart so that you can trust only Him to put the pieces back together again,” adds McBrayer. “With this new chapter in my life, it’s as if I can’t rest until I tell the world about how real the love of God is. After the things I’ve experienced over the last few years, how can I ignore the gospel or the fact that Christ’s love and grace is tangible and available to everyone?”
About Jody McBrayer
Jody McBrayer is known worldwide after becoming a mainstay in the Christian music industry with the Christian pop group Avalon. He was riding on the crest of this amazing success with millions of records sold, numerous No. 1 hit singles, major tours and multiple awards when 9 years ago he left the group after being diagnosed with heart disease. Thinking his music ministry was over, McBrayer entered the corporate world for five years working with his family. Then one day he received a call from a popular evangelist who wanted McBrayer to join him on tour as a guest musician. Over the next four years, McBrayer would literally circle the globe and experience the power, grace and mercy of God in a way he never had before. These experiences helped to reignite a desire for ministry, as well as a calling that had long since been set aside. It also helped him to decide to move forward once again as a solo artist. He already had one solo project on Sparrow Records in 2002, This Is Who I Am, when he was still a member of Avalon. It didn’t take long for this talented singer/songwriter to get signed with a respected label. In 2015, McBrayer signed with StowTown and he will release his first album for the label on February 12, 2016. That album is titled Keep Breathing.