BRANDON HEATH - FAITH HOPE LOVE REPEAT (2017)
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV
If Brandon Heath could offer a word of advice about how to navigate a well-lived life, he would sum it up in three words: faith, hope and love. These tenants of the Christian faith have provided an unshakable foundation for his own journey with Jesus through the years, and they continue to be the three virtues he claims in times of both joy and struggle. For Heath, it’s simply “instruction for a good life.” This trifecta of wisdom converges on his sixth studio project, Faith Hope Love Repeat (Provident Label Group), an album that fuses his signature pop sensibilities with his storytelling gifts.
A Nashville native, Heath quickly won the hearts of listeners when he released his major label debut in 2006. With four No. 1 singles to his credit, including the RIAA Platinum-certified “Give Me Your Eyes,” the singer has garnered five GRAMMY® nominations, an American Music Award nod and an Emmy Award. In addition, he’s earned eight Dove Awards, including two consecutive Male Vocalist honors (2009, 2010) and a win for Song of the Year (“Give Me Your Eyes”). He’s also been recognized as a top lyricist in his field with numerous songwriting accolades, including being named BMI’s 2014 Songwriter of the Year.
Faith Hope Love Repeat finds Heath reuniting with many of the people who have been instrumental in the success of his career through the years, namely Dan Muckala (Backstreet Boys, The Afters), who produced his first four records and was largely responsible for helping Heath develop his initial sound. “When we decided to work together, I really put a lot of trust in him to bring his pop sensibilities to my folky, country songwriting,” Heath reflects. “It set the tone for the rest of my career because we could break rules. Being back with Muckala, I gave him pretty much carte blanche on what he wanted to do as far as the production angle on songs.”
In addition to Muckala, Heath also collaborated with in-demand producers Bryan Fowler (TobyMac, Mandisa), Seth Mosley (for KING & COUNTRY, Newsboys) and David Leonard (All Sons & Daughters), plus Colby Wedgeworth (Jordan Feliz, Tenth Avenue North) on lead single “Whole Heart.” “I’m really thankful I got to work with these producers,” says Heath, “because I feel like they all brought a little bit of unique ‘sauce’ to the record, and it makes it really well-balanced, I think.”
The result is a colorful, beat-heavy, pop-centric project brimming with Heath’s hallmark lyrics and real-life storytelling fans have come to respect and admire. Working for a year-and-a-half on this album, he wrote more than 100 songs for Faith Hope Love Repeat, nearly double the amount of contenders he normally crafts. “I really wanted this record to be strong, and I feel like it has production, songwriting and vocal muscle to it,” Heath offers.
If the listener hears unwavering faith in Heath’s fresh lyrics, it’s only because he’s spent a good portion of the last few years battling fear. “When I first started songwriting, it was therapy,” he recalls, “and I turned back to therapy on this record, writing songs about faith and overcoming this giant obstacle of mine that is fear.”
He continues, “Fear really hits me the hardest around 3 to 4 a.m. I believe it’s just the voice of the enemy that I hear at night. I can really get stuck in my own head, and I believe that it limits me in many different capacities in life, including creativity. So it really takes faith to push through a lot of that. I always look at my records like a yearbook—what was going on in my life at that time? For me, faith felt like a big topic to talk about in this season of life.”
Replacing fear with faith is a thread that seamlessly runs throughout numerous songs on the album like the rhythmic “Don’t Be Afraid,” tropical/EDM offering “A Little Faith” and optimistic opening track “Future Is Bright,” a cut inspired by Heath’s first trip to the Holy Land.
“We were looking down over the Valley of Armageddon where they say it’s all going to go down, where the big battle at the end of time is going to happen. Ironically, there wasn’t this overwhelming fear in me. I know that my future is secure,” he shares, adding, “Something happened in the Holy Land for me. My faith is more real than it ever was just based on geography—just to see where it all happened and where Jesus lived and where His mission field was.”
Heath returned home to Nashville and co-wrote the upbeat song with Muckala and songwriting ace Jason Ingram, with whom he previously co-wrote “Give Me Your Eyes.” “I feel like it really sets the tone for the record,” Heath says of “Future Is Bright.”
The song paves the way for the rest of the track listing with its EDM-doused sonics, also evident on lead radio single “Whole Heart,” a shimmering introduction to the vibrant album. “God is asking for everything I’ve got. ‘Whole Heart’ speaks to a vulnerable topic, but I wanted it to sound free and open and triumphant,” Heath says of the single. “God’s already got it all in His hands, but He still asks us to surrender.”
With its breezy pop beats and lyrical depth, Faith Hope Love Repeat feels like a natural addition to the award-winning singer’s repertoire, yet it also proves he isn’t afraid to experiment. Stepping beyond the safety of the pop haven he’s created, Heath deftly sprinkles a few R&B-infused tracks throughout the set list, such as the soaring, vocally ambitious “Someone Like Me” and the soulful “Got The Love,” featuring guest vocals from label mate Tauren Wells.
Yet, it’s selections like the stripped-down, unedited “Only One In The World”—recorded with one mic, one vocal and one guitar in just one take—that remind listeners why Heath is regarded as one of the most beloved songwriters of this generation.
Then there’s the sentimental title track he wrote with All Sons & Daughters’ David Leonard, the last song penned for the collection. In the wake of learning Heath was going to become a dad for the first time, the song reads like a letter to his future child. It tackles his fear head-on: I brought you into this world / And I’m sorry it’s a little bit crazy / But I tell you there is so much good / Though the future looks a little bit hazy…
Regardless of the fear he might wrestle with at night, Faith Hope Love Repeat testifies to the fact that Heath’s future is, indeed, bright. Looking back, he’s immensely grateful that this album was born from uncertainty. “I feel thankful to have gone through a challenging season,” he offers. “I feel like it’s made me better at what I do.”
And he’s especially grateful for the continued platform to share his stories and songs. As a 13-year-old kid learning to play guitar and dabbling in songwriting, he never could have imagined the incredible journey ahead of him defined by a storied career and now a family of his own. “My career has just been a series of invitations that I’ve said ‘yes’ to. Honestly, I’ve had the best people in my life,” he reflects, giving proper due to the team he assembled for this album. “I wish I could take the credit for that, but I didn’t seek any of that out; I was invited, and I just said, ‘yes.’”
There may never be a time when he doesn’t battle fear of some sort, but for today, Brandon Heath is taking his own advice, choosing to say “yes” to the open invitation of faith, hope and love. Repeat.