‘Lifer’ from Mercy Me
I want to come out up front and say that I have nothing against Mercy Me. However, I do not think I would be a decent critic of music if I was not willing to call out less than stellar work, particularly from a group that is a benchmark name in the Contemporary Christian Music industry. There are times when I felt like we were listening to newly discovered tracks from the ’70s and ’80s of Christian Music. There were other moments when the song lyrics were speaking about a true message with less than imaginative lyrics. As my readers will be familiar with, let me showcase some of the songs from this project, starting with the songs I liked the most.
Timothy’s Favorite: Even If (4 Stars): This song is easily the best song from the project. ‘Even If’ connects to the emotionally hosts tracks we love from Mercy Me like ‘I Can Only Imagine,’ or ‘The Hurt and the Healer.’ This song speaks from the position that as a Christian knows that God can deal with our struggle and sorrows, but we need to also know that this pain may be a part of His plan. Even if God doesn’t fix our hurt, He needs to be our Hope. I’d be just fine if someone were to disagree and say this is a 5 star song. (Track 5)
We Win (3 Stars): This tune is fun and the message is worth singing. I think it will resonate with some because it has one of the easiest bridges to sing along with. In fact, the song ends with the guys singing the bridge towards the end, so they clearly want us to sign along. The lyrics themselves hit on the same message from even if, when you feel like your done with the fight, remember that God’s side wins. (Track 7)
There are two songs in particular that I would have left off the album.
Ghost (1 Star): I feel terrible for hating on a rare song about the Holy Spirit, but the lyrics are better as a poem or point in a sermon. They are combined with an organ solo that just is uninteresting. You might be able convince to give this song a 2 star rating for the attempt to sing about the Holy Spirit, but I just don’t think good intentions equal a good song. With about a minute left in the song, it transitions to this bridge that sounds like filler music from a concert while we wait for a guitarist to change instruments or something to that effect. (Track 10)
Happy Dance (1 Star): Sure, the music isn’t bad, and it’s true that we can celebrate living with Jesus, but how many times are they going to reinvent the same song? ‘Move’ from Generous Mr. Lovewell was great and fun. Then they used the theme again with ‘Shake’ on Welcome to the New. I get it, the guys want to get Christians to embrace the idea we can celebrate our salvation, but I’d love for them to say welcome to a new song premise. (Track 8)
Bart Millard and the gents who comprise Mercy Me have brought us a number of great songs since the band got started in the ’90s, and ‘Lifer’ is not devoid of good songs. This is the group’s eighth studio album, so some might even say that a sub par album was due. For those keeping score, Lifer’s 2.5 score is the lowest of any album I’ve published a review for. If and when the band is ready to release a ninth project, I’ll still be ready with my debit card, but I will be hoping for something better. – Timothy
(BTW, your tastes may be different, so here’s a link to buy Lifer for yourself. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.)