The highs and lows of life are not reserved for any one group of people. As soon as we break out of the placenta, we’re in position for times of both peril and plenty. In terms of the life of a Believer, we can walk in the balance of understanding God’s provident grace in times good and bad, or we can disproportionately champion one extreme over the other. In the case of S.O.’s album, So It Continues, the balance is what has made him a well respected artist up to this point. Quality projects seasoned with grace are what we’re familiar with from S.O., let’s see if it truly in fact, continues.
Getting right into it, the title track is a truly impressive way to start things off as S.O. takes few breaths and uses no hooks to summarize the aim of the next hour of runtime. Anyone who has heard 5 Solas/ So It Begins recognize how S.O. loves to start fast with the spillage. Utilizing a GP composition that had me wondering if Marvin Gaye or Michael Kiwanuka were going to sing a bridge at some point, S.O. waxes poetic for all 4:10. “Lamentations” is a song that I barely made it through due to just how much it speaks to what I have/ am dealing with since the death of my father. Between S.O. literally bringing the listener to the lows of that time of his life, Leah Smith’s Job 13:15 inspired hook, and GP’s emotionally infused instrumental, this is a song that speaks on several levels.
Just as you feel yourself sink a bit with the depth of emotion S.O. submersed the listener in, he refocuses and points to the hope found in Jesus on “I Can Bear” (featuring a nice Kirk Franklin sample flip) and “Away Soon” (anchored by the hook master Sean C. Johnson). Both songs help pick the vibe up to the highs, all the while showing his ability to adapt and execute on the varying styles of production (solely GP provided). And just like that, S.O. presents another sober offering on “Memoirs”, a Pauline epistle type of song directed to a believer that is straying from Christ’s footsteps. The hook on this track is decent, I know S.O. has some harmony, so the added autotune did him a bit of a disservice in my eyes. Moving forward, “Radical” features J. Williams and Lecrae on a somewhat surprisingly underwhelming song. I say that mainly because it felt like the production was missing a certain punch, along with J’s vocals. Lecrae’s verse was cool and S.O. did work but the overall energy was slightly lacking. Now, on the other hand, “I Am” is a track that had a bit more pace and feel to it. Yeah, a song with the calm and collected shai linne had me nodding my head more than one with the energetic Lecrae.
It seems that S.O. hit a pocket of the project where things are centered a bit with songs like “Walk In The Son II” (a more gritty sequel to its 5 Sola predecessor), “Tell Em All” (featuring Andy Mineo), and “You Know It” (with E Tizz). Of these three, “WITS2” is the standout, while “Tell Em All” is another underwhelming offering in spite of it guest, and “You Know It” is impressive musically. Things slow down again as S.O. presents another thoughtful interlude piece, this time with a focus on “Elisabeth”. Elisabeth Elliott, an author and speaker, is the subject of this heartfelt track and I honestly enjoyed the nod to a pillar of the Faith who is of the female persuasion.
As a lover of smooth jazz and easy listening music, I find “Yesterday” to be a top song in terms of musical and lyrical composition. The transparent honesty from S.O. is nothing new and never old as he thinks of the Cross and zeal that seemed so much closer…yesterday. “Passion and Purity” is one of those songs that is convicting and encouraging all at the same time. Again, S.O.’s honesty steps the ‘connectivity’ of this song (and album) up to a level few achieve. Add in the way that the guitar solo “speaks” at the end of the track and you have a song that will be referenced and replayed for years to come. “The End?” ensures that things conclude on a high, with some assistance by the eldest Brindle, Timothy. Leaving us with an exhortation to keep our eyes to the Lord until Christ comes out of the clouds. He also leaves some clue as to the possible brevity of his musical career. Basically, there are many means, many ends, but we have our eyes on The Mean who is The End.
After taking several (and several more) listens to this album, what I found to be the biggest draw was S.O.’s ability to show Christ’s strength in his weakness. He does well in revealing his struggles without indirectly enabling and providing the road map to The Salve without seeming as if he has it all figured out. Musically, GP really impressed for the large part, even though his resume doesn’t allow for it to be a surprise. Though I felt “Radical” and “Tell Em All” were missing something (maybe it was a mixing issue), I have no hesitation in saying he’s one of the most versatile producers I’ve ever heard. S.O.’s lyrical direction was enhanced by the musical flow, track ordering, and conservative number of features. It truly is a project that has more in mind than simply pulling heart strings, the aim is undoubtedly to tune them to the key of The King.
Categorical Ratings Breakdown:
Beat Selection/Production: 3.5/5