It’s the ultimate nightmare scenario for any parent; the untimely death of your child. Add to this the frustrating and devastating events around that passing (the details of which you can read anywhere on the Internet) and you have the makings of a family tragedy that plays out in the public sphere.
But underneath all those layers of the story, underneath the shock and salacious details, is a family that lost a son and a brother. And in the wake of such a devastating blow, TobyMac responded in the way that most artists do when faced with such news: he wrote a song.
“21 Years” is a devastating number, in that it captures exactly what it sets out to: the heartbreak of losing a son. The repeating, mournful keyboard motif and subtle beats of the track provide the melancholy atmosphere as TobyMac slowly builds the pace and quietly, but forcefully, pays tribute to his lost son, Truett.
As a parent, the most heart-wrenching lyrics here are all the inside jokes and personal interactions that are shared. I have two teenagers, and between the four members of my immediate family there are roughly one thousand inside jokes that we share on a yearly basis. To hear TobyMac list a few of his own is tough to hear. (“Catch you when you steal my shoes / Say good mornin', afternoon / Talk you through those "Alex blues" / Listen to your latest beats / Talk about what the lyrics mean / Venmo you another loan / See you do your second show")
“21 Years” masterfully captures a parent’s broken heart, and succeeds in that it doesn’t offer a cheap resolution. There's a seed of gospel hope (“Well, until this show is over / And you run into my arms / God has you in Heaven / But I have you in my heart”), but the sorrow is front and center, and that ultimately makes for a more honest and powerful song.- Review date: 1/23/20, written by Alex Caldwell of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Capitol CMG
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