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JFH Music Review


Jeremy Camp, 'Deeper Waters'
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Jeremy Camp
Deeper Waters



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Pop / Rock
Album length: 12 tracks: 38 minutes, 3 seconds
Street Date: May 17, 2024


READER RATING:   


I am an unashamed apologist for Jeremy Camp the Pop Artist. While longtime fans may begrudge Camp's move away from the rock sound that earned him a string of Gold-certified albums in the early aughts, I believe that Camp is a far more interesting vocalist when his gritty, earthy vocals are placed over pop hooks, whereas he can easily sound like your typical post-grunge frontman in a rock setting. He specifically won me over with 2017's The Answer and its equally good follow-up, The Story's Not Over. However, even I can acknowledge that 2021's When You Speak was a tepid affair, with snoozy, uninspired ballads outnumbering its few highlights. Failing to reach the heights of its predecessors, When You Speak suggested that Camp had run his course with the synth-pop sound, but he bounces back in a big way on his latest album, Deeper Waters, in large part thanks to the incorporation of an instrument that has recently become mainstream again: electric guitars.

Deeper Waters could be the album that bridges the gap between Camp's early fans and his modern ones, with a guitar-forward approach that revives the grungy sound of 2000's alternative radio, without forgoing the modern pop production and flourishes that have become Camp's home base for the past decade. Guitars were never wholly absent from Camp's pop albums, but they were only utilized for texture or atmosphere, pushed toward the background of the mix. But in our current, post-Olivia Rodrigo pop landscape, guitars are "in" again, so even if this stylistic shift is an example of trend-following, it's rare that copying the latest trends has resulted in something that sounds so inspired. Nearly every track on this album is led primarily by acoustic or electric guitar, and even the piano-led songs lean on ornamental guitar parts that, previously, probably would've been played by a synth instead of a guitar. (The funky electric rhythms in the bridge of "Closer to You," and a second-verse lead riff in "These Days," are two of my favorite musical moments.) If modern pop too often sounds like it was constructed while sitting in front of a computer, the bulk of this set truly feels like it was written by sitting down with an acoustic guitar and a notepad.

Yet, all of these aesthetic and arrangement decisions would be for naught if Deeper Waters didn't bring strong songs to bat, as the skeletons upon which to drape these fanciful rock-and-roll robes. Thankfully, many of these songs are home runs, especially during the album's first half, which charges out of the gate with the electrifying title track. Following that, the acoustic guitar-led "Closer to You," and the blues-rock anthem "No Survivors," will keep your attention with some of the album's strongest hooks. Next up comes "These Days," an excellent choice for a pre-release single, which is filled with inspiring sing-along lyrics, yet which still sneaks in some hard rock explosions and creative guitar riffs. It's interesting to note that many of these songs were written with the same team that wrote much of When You Speak (producer Jordan Sapp and pop songwriter Emily Weisband), yet something genuinely seems to have changed. Perhaps this new stylistic direction energized them, but it also seems possible that they were inspired by a specific idea, since many of these songs revolve around the theme of going deeper with the Lord until he's received your entire life, with nothing held back from Him.

It's not hard to imagine a handful of these songs appearing on Camp's first few albums -- only minor changes would be needed, such as replacing the ear candy and electronic drums with acoustic percussion. On a similar level, Camp's excellent vocal performances throughout this album occasionally harken back to the throaty aggression of his early career, which contrasts starkly with When You Speak specifically. And I don't mean that as a criticism of his 2021 album; in fact, one of my favorite things about When You Speak was how it leaned into Camp's beautiful falsetto, allowing him to explore the gentler half of his range on most of its songs. Yet here, we get to enjoy his entire range, from the most quiet and tender to the most heavy and in-your-face. Those gentler moments come primarily in the album's second half, and while I previously mentioned that the second half is not as strong musically as the album's stunning first half, it's saved by its lyrics: explorations of delayed answers to prayer ("Better"), God's constant presence through our wavering self-doubt ("Through the Night"), complete surrender ("Take It All"), and choosing God himself over the things that God can give to us ("Need to Be Near") are all spiritually resonant.

Though far from perfect, Deeper Waters represents an exciting next step in Jeremy Camp's journey; the album ostensibly creates a template that, if perfected on future releases, could reunite every camp within Camp's fanbase, past and present. Yet even this album, despite its relatively minor flaws and uneven track listing, has enough highlights and exciting elements to readily please Camp's modern fans while hopefully reigniting the interest of those who fell off many years ago. If that's you, Deeper Waters deserves a shot.

- Review date: 5/16/24, written by Chase Tremaine of Jesusfreakhideout.com



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. Record Label: Capitol CMG
. Album length: 12 tracks: 38 minutes, 3 seconds
. Street Date: May 17, 2024
. Buy It: Apple Music
. Buy It: Amazon.com (CD)
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. Deeper Waters (2:36)
  2. Closer To You (3:26)
  3. No Survivors (2:21)
  4. These Days (3:18)
  5. Again (3:34)
  6. A Million Names (3:43)
  7. Better (3:14)
  8. Possible (3:02)
  9. Ready Now (2:55)
  10. Take It All (2:59)
  11. Through The Night (3:36)
  12. Need To Be Near (3:24)

 

 



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