Jason Gay Review - ChristianMusic.com
Jason Gay Albums
JASON GRAY - A PLACE CALLED
"I feel like my call simply comes
down to this - having integrity as a songwriter and writing
a good song to the best of my ability. If I'm faithful in this
one little thing, then God has something to work with and He'll
take care of the rest. I'm humbled to have seen Him do it time
and time again." - Jason Gray
Jason Gray's new CD, A PLACE CALLED HOPE,
is Christian music at its finest, combining various styles,
such as rock, folk, and soul with acoustical guitar which creates
upbeat, interesting music, while effectively expressing the
Gospel, timeless Christian truths and feelings with Gray's originality
and passion. "He attends to the heart, mind and spirit" of his
audience. His God-inspired lyrics feed both those who are rock-solid
in their faith, and those who are seekers.
Jason Gray is a gifted song writer /
singer, every bit as talented as such artists as Steven Curtis
Chapman, Andrew Peterson, Caedmon's Call, Rich Mullens and Mark
Heard. Though influenced by Rich Mullins, Randy Stonehill and
Peter Gabriel, Jason Gray has his own unique way of writing and
composing "unforgettable and intimate songs that are at once
simple and profound."
"Jason is delightful! He inspires me
to be a better songwriter. He's a songwriter's songwriter,"
so says Dove-nominee, Sara Groves, whom he has gone on tour
with during the Spring of 2002.
Jason Gray got the idea for this CD, A
PLACE CALLED HOPE when he was traveling in the countryside,
on his way to a performance. Even though he was running late,
he had to get off the freeway, and check out this town called
Hope. He discovered a small, quiet, peaceful, modest town. He
couldn't stay long, because he was running late. He left, feeling
disappointed that not more people wanted to live there. Instead
people pick the big cities, where there are a lot more things
to do, plenty of distractions.
Jason Gray explains that Hope is also
a place in the "geography of the Spirit," where we go to wait,
wait for the renewing of our strength. While Hope is a place
of "peace, joy, and laughter," to get there we must turn from
life's distractions, and be willing to trust and surrender to
our Lord Jesus Christ all our fears, troubles, pride, self-centeredness,
rebellion, and self-reliance in order to stay in this place
called Hope, which is in the domain of Jesus Christ.
This isn't easy to do, but the ultimate
Hope, Jesus, patiently waits to give us "what we have exhausted
ourselves looking for everywhere and in everyone else while
it was always right here in front of us. Jesus
waits for us to not merely reside on His property, but in Himself
- who waits, in a place called Hope," says Jason Gray.
The songs on this CD explore various
aspects of human nature that hinder or attitudes that can help
us arrive to the place called Hope, and actually dwell in Jesus,
walk with him, strengthening us with his love, support, mercy,
and hope that can be found only in Him.
Through Sara Groves, Jason connected
with Sara's producer, Nate Sabin, who then produced A PLACE
CALLED HOPE, bringing new ideas to Jason Gray, on how to stretch
and expand his talent, in his Christian music ministry. Nate
Sabin, as reported by Joe Tougas, in The Mankato Free Press(2000),
had different ideas for Gray, concerning not only for the total
sound of his new songs, but also that his songs should explore
the emotional side, the heart of hope, faith and belief, instead
of only focusing along the tried and true, safe, comfortable
intellectual, thoughtful lines, that proved to be so successful
in his first two CDs.
"I wrote the songs about faith, trust
and surrender, but discovered in the process that trust and
surrender are difficult concepts for me." Gray had to ask himself,
"Do I allow him to enrich the project with his perspective or
do I just insist on my own way?"
Believing that self-reliance and fear
can sometimes keep us away from Hope, Gray stepped out in faith
and leaped into the unknown, pushing himself creatively out
of his comfort zone into new uncharted territory. "Circumstances
in my life converged to where as I was making the CD, the CD
was making me."
Though Jason Gray's fine voice and accomplished
expertise on the guitar and hammered dulcimer are still the
bedrock of his inspiring music on this CD, he also included
various elements from pop to folk, to rock, to soul,to create
a different sound, using some fine, professional Nashville studio
musicians, duets with Sara Groves, vocals by the Sound of Blackness,
and even experimented with his own voice, all which adds musical
depth and enjoyment on the basic tracks. This new sound serves
Gray's vocals and music nicely, not overwhelming it with studio
perfection, which was a great worry for Gray, who wanted a more
professional sound, but didn't want to loose "grit and sincerity."
Lyrical Themes that Flow Through His
1). Roadblocks get in the way of the
Hope, such as Fear, Self-reliance and Rebellion, and Holding
LOOK OVER YOUR SHOULDER (written by
the late Mark Heard) - Arranged by Jason Gray, additional vocals
by Sara Groves.
Lyrical Sample: Look over your shoulder
and tell me what's coming, tell me what is the bogey that you're
so afraid of, the eyes in the back of our heads can persuade,
that just for the moment mercy has swayed, look over your shoulder
and tell me what's coming.
If you must be afraid, be afraid of
yourself, for being afraid of the fears you have felt, you will
weather well in a climate of love.
HIDE AND SEEK - By Jason Gray.
Jason Gray explores the fear of being
hurt, because of what has happened in the past. Using the game
of hide and seek to illustrate how some people want to have
relationships, but are afraid to let others get too close.
Lyrical Sample: 1) When I was younger,
I would hide behind a tree, but I'm more clever now, I've learned
to hide behind me, with assumed identities, I'm master of disguise,
you may never see me, though you look me square in the eyes.
Chorus: Oh 1,2,3, won't you come and
play with me, try and catch me if you can, and if you can I'll
hide again, but will you please keep looking then, as I'm seeking
to be found in hide and seek.
B) Self-reliance and Rebellion:
THE PRODIGAL- (By Jason Gray, who was
inspired by scripture: Luke 15:11-31).
Lyrical Sample: 1) I thought I was
so cool, I thought I had it all down, I took you for an old
fool, but now I suspect that I was the clown, you gave me a
home of love, I took the money and ran, to the city of angels,
but now it looks more to me like the city of man.
2) I thought I knew what I wanted,
I thought I could find myself, I thought I could design my freedom,
but now it feels more like a prison cell, I tried philosophy
and with no consideration of disgrace, I tried sex and revelry,
until I landed on my face that's when...
C) Other Behaviors that can hinder Hope:
THINGS WE HOLD BACK - Jason Gray,
with Sara Groves helping on vocals.
Lyrical Sample: 1) Some hold back when
they know they should, in the heat of a moment some wish they
could. Some hold back afraid to try, other hold back and they
don't know why. Some hold back the voices that haunt them, If
they could, some would hold back time, others hold back the
urge to dig deeper, for fear of what they might find.
Chorus: These are the things we hold
back, if we don't take care they make for us a home, so look
deep into the life that's yours to live, you may find you hold
back a thing of two of your own.
2) The Strength, Love, Guidance, Mercy
that We Get from the Hope, Jesus.
A) God-inspired Love in Relationships:
THE DANCE - By Jason Gray, back-up
vocals by Sara Groves.
Gray is a master at using "powerful metaphors"
in such songs as THE DANCE (with a 1 2 3 waltz beat), that
relates marriage to dancing. "In Columbus, Ohio, a couple,
who had waited to speak to him after a show, gratefully thanked
him for his song, THE DANCE which inspired them to try to work
things out in their troubled marriage. And so it goes, every
night that the Lord brings together Jason Gray and the people
who at that very moment need to hear a song that he's been given."
Lyrical Sample: 1) Sometimes we tired
of being ourselves, and wished that we could dance with somebody
else, frayed and foot sore, we wanted to leave the floor but
to equal the charge of love's sure demands, this is the art
and the call of the dance.
2) And though now my love we have danced
for awhile and our shoes have shuffled over many a mile, though
we've borne every scuff and every dip in the floor, the music
rings cleaner than ever before.
THE LETTER- By Jason Gray based on Romans
10:8 - The word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue
in your mouth as close as the heart in your chest.
A man writes to his beloved, who has
trust issues, being hurt from past relationships. A reassuring
letter that she can reread over and over aloud, to unseat her
doubt. Studying and reading God's word can have the same effect
on people, as they read aloud His promises which show His faithful,
merciful love for us through Jesus, washing away our doubts,
giving us a peace and joy that comes from belief. It is as if
Jesus is sending people hurt by other worldly things that they
thought would give them a satisfying love, an invitation to
trust and believe in him.
Lyrical Sample: I left you with a letter,
to have 'til we're together, my heart poured out on each and
every page.....For I know you have
been hurt before, And may suppose I'm just one more, charlatan
to take your love and run, but open it and you will see, that
you can open up to me, and let the days of faithlessness be
done. I'd like to think it maybe quickened your breath, when
you read the part of how my love is stronger than death.
I'd hope you'd read it out loud, the
sound unseating every doubt, as my love found expression in
your voice, you could not deny me then, or ever doubt your worth
again, or ever wonder if you were my choice, as my word became
flesh in your heart, my love for you to burn within your deepest
B) Living life through our Christian
faith, trusting the Lord.
IF YOU LEAD ME - By Jason Gray (Stepping
out in trust and faith).
Jason Gray describes this as "a
song from the waiting room."
Lyrical Sample: I'm not really looking
for a heavenly sign of water into wine, I'm just trying to get
a sense of clear direction, I'm listening for your tone and
the slightest of inflections.
Chorus: If you lead me, I will follow,
every morning, each new morrow, I would beg, steal and I would
borrow, just to have you lead me that I may follow.
A LITTLE MORE LIKE JESUS- By
Jason Gray. (Vocal back-up by Sounds of Blackness). The result
of stepping out in faith: We become more Christ-like.
Lyrical Sample: 1) I know of a young
woman with shekinah in her eyes, burning bright as a white hot
fire, burning deep as the midnight sky, most times you'll find
her busy paying her dues at the local mission, lending an ear
to a troubled heart, serving soup in the homeless kitchen, and
the words she speaks are like a song you'd imagine an angel
might sing...If you listen to the hearts of the lives she's
touched, you can hear a gentle ring.
Chorus: She looks a little more like
Jesus, every day, yeah she looks a little more like Jesus every
SURRENDER- By Jason Gray (How to stay
on /get back on track:). Song was inspired by Jacob's wrestling
match with God and ultimate surrender. Genesis 32:22-31.
Lyrical Sample: Jacob, he wrestled God
by the waters of Jabbok, he got a new name to remind him and
a hitch in his walk, and he say yay oh yah oh weh.
Jesus, He said "come to me for my burden
is light, cast your troubles upon my back and cast off the night"....But
I hold fast to my troubles, though the weight of them makes
Chorus: And I know sometimes I like
to take control, and try my hand at the Maker's role, but a
mess is the most that I can make it seems, so I come before
you now on bended knee, Singing I surrender.
THE WEIGHT OF GLORY (The value
of trials) - By Jason Gray. "Often,
my world has to be turned upside down before I see what is of
true value. Still for all the pain in the process, when the
dust clears, I never doubt it was was worth it." - Jason Gray
This song is an encouragement for when
a person is going through struggles and trials, when things
seem dark and painful. Another great metaphorical piece, where
Jason uses climbing a steep mountain, to explain the value of
our trials, if we persevere, depending on the Lord.
Lyrical Sample: The mountain is high,
the treasure so deep, there's gold in them hills, but the climb's
so steep, yet every stumbling block can be a stepping stone,
for your foot to find purchase, as further up you go.
The rain will fall, the waters will
rise, the waves press in, on your every side, to make you feel,
under Love's sure hand, the full weight of glory, in every grain
C) God's Mercy and Love - Our Dependence
on Him -
LEAVING IT ALL BEHIND -By Jason
Gray. (Vocal back-up by Sounds of Blackness).
It explores Philip Yancy's observation
that no amount of human tinkering can fix what's broken in us.
We need to be empowered by Jesus Christ.
I grew up on the south side of hope, in the arms of mistress
indigo, her love like a bottle banging on the back of my head.
When I woke up on the ground, I picked myself up and I put my
foot down, over my shoulder I said as I walked out the door....
Chorus: 1) I'm leaving it all behind,
but I just can't let it go... (Trying to give up sin on his
3) And every self-help remedy, only led
right back to me, yeah I may be the place to start, but I can
only get so far, because the way that leads to life, is a living
kind of death, you go down in the water, and take your first
breath. I heard a voice by the river call, "though you stumble,
you will not fall, if you just reach out and take hold of my
hand..." Mercy took me in and then pulled me under, I came up
clean to the sound of thunder, as I broke through the surface,
I was singing on the other side..."I'm leaving it all behind
me now" .
Chorus: 2) Oh sweet Mercy, like a river
covers me. (After accepting Jesus, taking His hand, giving up
self-will and keeping both eyes on Him).
THE NEW JERUSALEM - Music by Jason Gray
& Words by Jason Gray & Mark & Kathy Einan (Vocal back-up by
Sounds of Blackness) Based on the scripture: (Revelations 21:2-5).
A glimpse of what believers have to look
forward to, because of our faithful, loving Lord.
Lyrical Sample: The new Jerusalem, the
consummation of all our dreams, coming down in glory at the
end of the story of our lives, the new Jerusalem, like a bride
upon her day of promise, in sure anticipation of the great emancipation
of her love...
A PLACE CALLED HOPE - Words and
music by Jason Gray & Tim Helmen.
"I've been tempted to think of hope
as a state to achieve through discipline. But lately I'm persuaded
it's more a presence through our surrender, to be achieved by
- that hope, like grace is a gift." - Jason Gray.
1) I'm not proud to confess, I know the back streets of Shame
too well, or that I've spent more than a couple nights in Disgrace,
on the floor of a cheap hotel.....
2) I quit town and drove all night, and even made it as far
as Regret, by sunrise I was well past Good Intentions, but I
found that I wasn't there yet. Too proud to ask for some directions,
so sure I would find it on my own, I just keep pressing on 'til
I ended up, in the middle of Nowhere, all alone, broken upon
that place where all make-believe dies. *I finally gave up,
and that's when it took me by surprise....
Chorus: This place called Hope, A place
called Hope, don't you bother to come looking for me, in the
places where I used to be, I've been found by a place called
To find out more about Jason Gray, check
out his CDs and or order them, you can go to his website: www.JasonGrayMusic.com.
You can also order his CDs through your local music store.
To find out more information about Jason
Gray, listen to his music, and order his CDs, go to his website:
Reviewed by: Julie Carr / ChristianMusic.com
Sources: Jason Gray (Info. on his CD),
his Web-Site: www.JasonGrayMusic.com,
information sent by McCain & Company and interview article,
by Joe Tougas in The Mankato Free Press (2000).