Jason Castro 'Only A Mountain' Album Review
Prime Cuts: Same Kind of Broken (with Moriah Peters), Only a Mountain, Enough
The music industry is iconoclastic when it comes to American Idols. How many idols of this popular competitive singing TV show have been toppled over, smashed and crushed? Save for Kelly Clarkson, Scotty McCreery and Carrie Underwood, many of the alumni are either stranded on Adult Contemporary isle recycling standards (Clay Aiken) or facilely changing genres hoping to click somewhere (Rueben Studdard, Diana DeGarmo and Phil Stacey) or frustratingly struggling with meager sales (Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks) or left without a major label recording contract (Taylor Hicks, Lee DeWyze and Kellie Pickler). Coming in as a contestant in the seventh season of the show, Castro was no carbon copy of his peers; he was essentially a man of his own. Being the first ever idol to don his signature dreadlocks, play the ukulele while singing "Over the Rainbow," sing in three languages, and offer stripped down acoustic renditions of songs in a notoriously diva-belting show, Castro was not afraid to parlay his uniqueness. Another defining characteristic about Castro is that he is also a Christian and he has no qualms singing or speaking of his beliefs. Though his Christian beliefs were shrouded behind love songs on his debut record, within a matter of a few months Word records re-launched the album with 5 added faith-explicit tracks. And on this new sophomore CD "Only a Mountain," God and Biblically-centred issues take a front seat.
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Album opener, title cut and the vanguard single "Only a Mountain" sets the tenor of the album. "Only a Mountain" is a crisp, catchy and radio friendly pop burner that muscularly places trust in God without for a moment sentimentalizing life's struggles. Taking the cue from the words of Jesus from Matt. 17:20, Castro sings one of the most faith-building songs of the year: "This is only a mountain/You don't have to find your way around it/Tell it to move and it'll move/Tell it to fall and it'll fall." Touted as his wife's favorite song, the Steven Curtis Chapman-like ballad "I Believe" is another faith edifying strong that effectually calls us back to God in our times of doubts. "Starting Line" has a distinctive sweetness to it: some of us who have grown up in the church culture may grow up taking the Gospel for granted until the day the light broke and we realized Jesus is more than just a character in the stories taught in Sunday School. "Starting Line" captures that Kodak moment of that precious divine realization over some mesmerizing guitar lines and a gorgeously soothing melody.
Never for a moment does Castro forget that God can still be exalted despite our brokenness. This is the gist of his duet with CCM's newcomer Moriah Peters. Peters adds her mellifluous vocals bringing in a universal cry to God for acceptance on this gentle acoustic guitar driven ballad "Same Kind of Broken." Castro gets more perspicuous in his definition of brokenness with "Safe House." Inspired by his visit to a Safe House in Dallas where victims of sex trafficking were cared for, "Safe House" tells the story from the perspective of these ladies and how they desperately seek to find "safety" in the midst of such monstrous atrocity. More real life inspiration comes with 'If It's Love." A modern multi-layered textured Coldplay modern ballad, "If It's Love" is birthed from Castro's observation of a travelling musician who allowed his itinerary to overshadow the things that are really his life such as his family and God.
One of the most important songs on this record is "Enough." A beautifully crafted piano ballad, "Enough" is Castro ode to Madeline (his one year-old daughter) telling her that she herself is enough for him to love her. Seriously this is more than just a cutesy song fathers ought to sing to their one year-olds. Rather, this is the heart's cry of many of our children (regardless of their age): they need to know that their fathers love them and that they are enough. This is a song for all fathers to sing to their children regardless of age. On the whole "Only a Mountain" is an important record: there are themes about God that needs to be articulated again and again in our faith wavering society. And there are songs that speak of God's truth in human relationships that need to be heard if we want to bear greater resemblance to the Son. This is a much needed disc today in the church and it needs to be widely circulated.
VIEW HERE Jason Castro [Photos]
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