JJ Heller / ONLY LOVE REMAINS Review - ChristianMusic.com
Interview * Albums * Review2 * Video #1* Video #2 * Video #3 * Lyrics

jj heller review

ONLY LOVE REMAINS is truly an artful endeavor for the senses and the soul, NOT TO BE MISSED. This inspiring collection of songs combines expressive nuanced vocals from the heart which express well-worded lyrical messages, with interesting, sometimes haunting melodies supported by fine acoustic ensemble efforts, sure to lift the listener up into a place of self-reflection; encouraging repentance, thanksgiving, and dependence on the Lord, in order to be more like Jesus. By asking His help with struggles within ourselves, we then have the ability to change, be willing to show more love to others in service to Him more effectively, without personal baggage which sometimes gets in the way.

The most stellar characteristic which most impressed this reviewer found in this collection of songs are the quality and variances of JJ Heller's "honest" vocals, which fully bring to life the meanings behind the poignant lyrical messages on a level hard to resist, by providing just the right vocal style and feeling; all which are perfectly matched and supported by the musical compositions; dynamic and well-played.. There is an honest pure quality found in JJ Heller's vocal performances which give the songs an aura which captivate the listener, gently floating the mind and soul to another level of awareness, past self-absorption into a world where love for others and self -examination are front and center.

What is so stunning and effective about these songs is not only their honest presentation but also the wonderful lyrics which express so well the feelings, the problems with self-perceptions, the struggles with the secular world, and the personal conflicts that human beings in this world have to navigate, often getting lost and confused, sometimes making bad choices, all needing the Lord to get back on track, or to be healed by receiving His love and strength through a personal relationship with Him.

ONLY YOU - Making choices that we can only make - Stepping out of how we perceive ourselves means that we lose some of our perceptions about self while gaining growth in new ways, broadening our abilities; truly taking hold of what the Lord took hold of us for in the first place. This composition has an easy acoustic-driven beat, catchy, memorable melody, with very nice inner voices, which include a banjo and perhaps a slide guitar. A lovely musical ensemble sound and nice backup harmonies fully support the fine, expressive vocals and lyrical message.

LOVE ME - Totally absorbing, dynamic ballad composed in a minor key with a 3/4 meter beat flow, giving it a haunting, flowing melody; brought to life by an acoustic ensemble which is light, full of delightful inner voices, creating the perfect musical vehicle for the heart-tugging lyrics and poignant vocal delivery which explore the hurt and brokenness caused by a lack of love and bad choices; and ultimately pointing to the Lord as a source for unfailing love and forgiveness. Chokes up this reviewer every time. A great favorite!

THANK YOU - A wonderfully dynamic song of thanksgiving sung with soul and feeling to praise the Lord Jesus for not only the creation of our beautiful world, but also for saving our souls because He loves us. Song begins softly, sweetly, and builds in intensity, emotion and sound in both the musical composition and the vocals and harmonies. It would find a home in any denominational or non-denominational service. Listener will be singing along in thanksgiving as well!

LULLABY - Lovely, light delicate, calm acoustic song which will help put children and some adults as well to sleep. Sweet vocals, lovely melody, and comforting lyrics are very calming, and point out that the love of God is evident in the miracle of a child being in existence.

ALL THE BEAUTY (Kati's Story) - Actually based on a real teen's struggle with an eating disorder; (see story in interview section below). Describes an inner battle between a destructive self perception of a young girl verses the healing love of the Lord. This inspiring ballad's composition, written in a minor key, blends rhythmic acoustic & a touch of electric guitar with a little bit of blues and soul, creating a musical vehicle perfect for the uplifting vocals which touch the heart, offering encouragement and hope to the listener. Interesting syncopated rhythm is played lightly in the background by a snare.

MAKE BELIEVE - The story of a reunion of a birth father and his daughter and the healing power of love, based on a real occurrence. Another powerful, dynamic, well played acoustic ballad performed by JJ Heller, told from the first person. This ballad tells the tale from the perspective of this young girl, with a hole in her heart who made believe that her father, who left her as an infant, considered her a blessing from heaven, that he would come back and claim her and be a man of the finest character.

WHEN I LEAVE - An earnest wish to be remembered for showing God's love to others, and for being thankful for blessings received. Looks and examines priorities, renewing to put others first. Beautiful acoustic ballad which offers the listener some fine guitar playing with the mandolin offering a glorious counter-melody, throughout the song, supporting the memorable melody, heart-felt vocals, and back up harmonies.

EVERYTHING IS CHANGING - A plaintive prayer hymn asking for guidance. Our best efforts don't always result in the goals aimed for, either in a relationship or in serving the Lord, sometimes bringing discouragement, anxiety and confusion, and the feeling that we're off-track. Melody is written in a minor key, propelled with an acoustic pop rhythm and drums. The plaintive, dynamic vocals help to portray the unhappiness caused by feeling out of sync because of unexpected changes or difficulties to great effect.

ON MY OWN - Hitting the bottom in despair and turning to the Lord for help. A song of remorse and shame, asking for forgiveness and guidance. Composition is created in a minor key, which musically expresses unhappiness and a sense of urgency through dissonant sounding, rhythmic playing of the guitar and a sorrowful piano counter melody, filled out in parts by cello voice. Song builds in emotion and intensity beautifully through JJ Heller's plaintive vocals, and the dynamics expressed by the musical accompaniment.

GARDEN VARIETY - A smooth, dynamic, memorable acoustic anthem, with nice touches of piano, strings, composed in a major key. Lyrical message laments the brokenness of our human nature, tendency to sin and do the wrong thing. Love the interesting melody which helps to draw the listener into this heart-felt lyrical presentation.

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ONLY LOVE REMAINS - A truly beautiful, moving acoustic prayer hymn asking Jesus to clean house gently; pruning, killing unloving tendencies in our attitudes, and our perceptions, leaving room for only love to grow, and a receptive heart for the teachings and urgings of the Holy Spirit. Begins softly and simply, with just a soft guitar and JJ Heller's heart-felt vocals. Sound and dynamics begin to grow in refrain with addition of another guitar and what sounds like a concertino. 2nd verse, the piano and back-up duet harmonies are added. It just becomes more moving and heart-felt from this point on. Really nice guitar ensemble work. Last time through the refrain begins softly and grows dynamically. Another great favorite of this reviewer.

Her "folkish music" can be described as being refreshingly well done; clean acoustic with ensemble voices added for great effect, creating irresistible melodies and counter melodies, written in both major and minor keys, in these compositions. Each song has a unique sound, fueled by thoughtful use of acoustic and support voices, such as mandolin, banjo, concertino, piano, cello, bass, drums, courtesy of some fine musicians in their own right who contributed their musical gifts to the sound of the album.

For, besides hearing the considerable musical talents of JJ and her husband, Dave, others joined in the effort to fill out the creative, supporting acoustic ensemble sound, and back-up vocals, beginning with a gifted music producer, with experience in putting together excellent acoustic music.

JJ Heller shares with ChristianMusic.com. "We were completely blessed to work with some amazingly talented people on this record. Grammy-winning producer Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay, Bebo Norman, etc.) brought so much life and insight to each song."

"We were also blown away by:
Bryan Sutton (Dixie Chicks, The Chieftains) on mandolin, guitar and banjo.
David Henry (Over the Rhine) on cello * Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson) on piano.
Andy Hubbard (Little Big Town, Fernando Ortega) on drums.
Aaron Sands (Jars of Clay) on bass * Jeremy Casella (singer/songwriter)
Andrew Osenga (Caedmon’s Call) on guitars/backing vocals."

Wow! Another great, uplifting, inspiring, and perhaps convicting acoustic album for the Lenten season or for anytime a person needs a CD to elevate the mind and spirit to a place above self. JJ Heller shares her considerable musical talents in an uplifting poignant collection of songs which will truly bless the listener in their walk with the Lord. The delightful production values and the inspiring contributions of the above mentioned musicians are icing on the cake! ONLY LOVE REMAINS is a MUST HAVE for anyone's Christian music collection!

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More details about JJ Heller's MUSIC on this album....

ChristianMusic.com: How do you compose?

JJ Heller - "My normal process is to sit down with a guitar, come up with a chord progression I like, then write the lyrics and the melody at the same time. Sometimes I go into it with an idea of what I want the song to be about, and sometimes I just start mumbling gibberish until something I like comes out of my mouth. Dave helps a little bit, but I do about 90% of the writing."

ChristianMusic.com: Concerning lyrical messages: Are the songs based on what has been learned spiritually, or life experience or leadings of the Holy Spirit?

JJ Heller reflects, "Each song is inspired by something different. Sometimes I write about the things that God is working on in my heart, sometimes I just write about life in general, and sometimes I write about specific situations that are going on in the lives around me."

An example of a song based on a specific situation is “All the Beauty.”

JJ Heller shares about this song with ChristianMusic.com: "A week or so before last Christmas, my husband, Dave, and I received a phone call from our friend informing us that her 17 year-old daughter, Kati, had just been admitted into a treatment center for women with eating disorders. She said that because of her disorder, Kati had become extremely depressed and desperate, and that’s why they felt they needed to take more drastic measures to get her help."

"I was completely shocked by this news because Kati appeared to have everything together. She was smart, talented, and beautiful, and yet she believed the lie that she could never measure up. I wrote 'All the Beauty' for my friend Kati to remind her that God thinks that she is precious enough to die for."

ChristianMusic.com: Any favorite songs, and why?

JJ Heller - "My favorite song on the record is "Only Love Remains." Two days before we started recording our project, I sat down to try and write one more song, and I never expected it to be my favorite one on the record! I think I like this song so much because it’s honest and it’s straight from my heart. It speaks of brokenness and humility and the truth that we must fully surrender our lives to Christ. To surrender is to allow all of the selfish, arrogant, and lazy parts of us to be burned away so that we can be free from the things that slow us down and hold us back. This song is a prayer that the Lord will never stop working on me until only love remains."

Song Evaluations: * * * * + + rating indicates this reviewer's favorite songs. All words and music written by JJ Heller, produced by Mitch Dane. Words printed by permission. All are copyrighted.

* * * * + ONLY YOU ("ONLY YOU" Video)

Scriptural References: (Ephes. 4:20-24, John 15:16, 1 Cor. 12:4-6, Romans 12:4-6)

Lyrics:

Are you the little girl who locks herself inside her room / waiting to be rescued // Or are you the captain of war that he began to prove his merit as a man./ /

Chorus: Everyone is known for something / What's it going to be for you.//

Are you the picture of perfection / but when it comes down to it, you don't have a clue // Or are you the center of attention at all times / God help the man who takes away your chance to shine.//

Chorus: Everyone is known for something / What's it going to be for you.//

Bridge: No one else can paint your portrait with an unobstructed view / You're the one who gets to choose / How much of you, you've got to lose / How much of you / you've yet to gain // Who are you....

Chorus: Everyone is known for something / What's it going to be for you.//

Tag: No one else can paint your portrait with an unobstructed view.

* * * * + + LOVE ME ("LOVE ME" Video)

Scriptural References: (1 John 4:19, Ephesians 3:16-18)

Lyrics:

He cries in the corner / where nobody sees / He's the kid with the story / no one would believe / He prays every night / Dear God won't you please / Could you send someone here who will love me.//

Chorus 1: Who will love me for me? / Not for what I have done or what I will become / Who will love me for me / 'Cause nobody has shown me what love really means.//

Her office is shrinking a little each day /She's the woman whose husband has run away / She'll go to the gym after working today / Maybe if she was thinner then he would've stayed / And she says....

Chorus 1: Who will love me for me? / Not for what I have done or what I will become / Who will love me for me / 'Cause nobody has shown me what love, what love really means.//

He's waiting to die / as he sits / all alone / He's a man / in a cell / who regrets what he's done / He utters a cry from the depths of his soul / Oh Lord / forgive me / I want to go home / Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside / And it said I know you've murdered and I know you've lied / I've watched you suffer all of your life / And now that you'll listen / I'll tell you that.

Chorus 2: I will love you for you / Not for what you have done or what you will become / I will love you for you / I will give you the love, the love, that you never knew.//

* * * * + + THANK YOU

Scriptural References: (Heb.7:26-28, John 3:16, Job 38)

Lyrics:

For painted purple skies / For never telling lies / For giving all you had away / For crying when I cry./

Chorus: OH Thank you / Thank you OOH./

For changing autumn leaves / The salty ocean breeze / For coming down from heaven to save a wretch like me.//

Chorus: OH Thank you / Thank you OOH./

Bridge: I can't understand / why you left your throne / But I know / that you came / and you saved my soul./ Repeat twice

Amazing grace / How sweet the sound/ I once was lost / but now I'm found / OH Thank you.

 

* * * * + + ALL THE BEAUTY (Kati's Story)

Scriptural References: (1 John 4:19, John 3:16, Ephes. 1:4-7 & 3:16-19)

Lyrics:

I know she's a liar when I look into her eyes / But I believe every word she says / She's out to start a fire burning everything I have / I can't put it out 'cause it's all inside my head / And then you sing / I hear you sing.//

Chorus: You call me lovely / You call me friend / You call me out of death and let me try again / You call me beloved / You call me clean / Then you show me all the beauty that you see in me./

I still hear her whisper and sometimes I hear her shout / You're not good enough and you will never be / But if I focus on your singing / I can start to tune her out / And I will try to see the value that you place on me / And you say I'm worthy.//

Chorus: You call me lovely / You call me friend / You call me out of death and let me try again / You call me beloved / You call me clean / Then you show me all the beauty that you see in me./

* * * * + + MAKE BELIEVE
(This song is dedicated to Paula and her father, Glenn).

Scriptural References: (Proverbs 22:6 & 20:7, Psalm 127:3-5)

Lyrics:

You said you couldn't keep me when you were seventeen / Too young to be a father / You kissed my hand and took your leave / And you taught me how to make believe./

Chorus 1: Make believe I was a gift to you from heaven / Make believe that you would take me as your own / Make believe that you would set the mark of what a man should be / You taught me how to make believe.//

And now that I've grown older / I long for us to meet / I have a million questions / but most of all I want to see if all of it was make believe.//

Chorus 1: Make believe I was a gift to you from heaven / Make believe that you would take me as your own / Make believe that you would set the mark of what a man should be / You taught me how to make believe.//

Another year has come and gone / I am living with your family / And I feel right at home in the place where I always wanted to be / I'm going out this evening / I check the mirror twice / You stop me on the staircase / You kiss my hand and say that I look beautiful tonight./

Chorus 2: And I believe I was a gift to you from heaven / And I believe that you would take me as your own / I believe that you set the mark of what a man should be / Now I don't have to make believe.//

 

* * * * + LULLABY

Scriptural References: (Psalm 3:5)

Lyrics:

Go to sleep little one / May it be peaceful / May you dream of lovely things / And awake to find them real / Little one / Close your eyes little one / This is our lullaby / The love of God is evident in the miracle of you / Little one ...

* * * * + + WHEN I LEAVE

Scriptural References: (1 Cor. 13, John 14:2-3, 2nd Cor. 5:1-2)

Lyrics:

Am I too busy chasing a temporary fortune that my priorities get lost along the road / The seasons bring their moments / they linger for an instant / The never wait for you to pay the debts you owe.//

Chorus: When I leave I want to leave a memory filled with love / the kind you don't forget / When I go I want to be known as one who lived with no regrets.//

If life is like a flower / Am I doing all that's in my power to leave a fragrance behind / it's time to count my blessings / Forget about my savings account for a while.//

Chorus: When I leave I want to leave a memory filled with love / the kind you don't forget / When I go I want to be known as one who lived with no regrets.//

I want them to say / What a glorious day / She had so much to gain but she gave it away / And I want them to see something different in me / And that I'm going to be free./

Tag: Some glad morning when this life is over / I'll fly away / To a home on God's celestial shore / I'll fly away / When I leave I want to leave a memory.....

* * * * + + EVERYTHING IS CHANGING

Scriptural References: (Romans 8:26, Phil. 3:12-14, 1 Chronicles 16:11, 1 Cor 1:8-9)

Lyrics:

I'm trying to follow / I'm trying my best to do what you said / But what about tomorrow / Are you sure I'm not in over my head./

Chorus: Everything is changing all around me / Is this the ending of a dream / I thought I was doing what you wanted / it isn't as easy as it seemed.//

I'm loosing my vision / I'm fighting the doubting with all that I am / It's been awhile since you last gave me something to go on / Tell me it's not the end. //

Chorus: Everything is changing all around me / Is this the ending of a dream / I thought I was doing what you wanted / it isn't as easy as it seemed.//

It seemed like I did everything right / Now I see that it's all wrong / Do you want me to move on / Can you tell me where I belong???///

* * * * + + ON MY OWN

Scriptural References: (1 Samuel 16:7, Romans 5:8, Heb. 6:19-20, Ephes. 1:7, 1 John 1:9)

Lyrics:

Look away from me / 'Cause I don't want you to see / My experimenting with what I know is empty / I am in so deep / That I've almost stopped breathing / I know I'm drowning. ////

Chorus: I am on my own / I want you to call me home.//

It seems too late to apologize / What I've done is done / And yet when I look in your eyes / I am overcome.//

Chorus: I am on my own / I want you to call me home.//

Home is not as sweet as it used to be / And it's all because of me / Should I leave it be / Or can I be redeemed.//

Chorus: I am on my own / I want you to call me home.//

* * * * + GARDEN VARIETY

Scriptural References: (Gen. 3, Romans 7:14-25)

Lyrics:

Garden Variety / Generations of people seeking peace / Garden variety / Everyone's falling / With restless hearts and troubled minds / We realize this fallen world doesn't seem quite right / Somewhere near the dawn of time../

Chorus: We lost our paradise.//

Broken humanity / A shadow of what we were meant to be / Broken humanity / Everyone's falling / We hear the echo of a song we haven't heard / We hum the melody but can't recall the words / Like trying to see the stars in the twilight.//

Chorus: We lost our paradise.//

* * * * + + ONLY LOVE REMAINS

Scriptural References: (Romans 12:2, Phil. 1:6, 2:15, John 8:12 & 14:8, Is. 64:8, 1 Cor 11:32)

Lyrics:

Scenes of you come rushing through / You are breaking me down / So break me into pieces that will grow in the ground / I know that I deserve to die for the murder in my heart / So be gentle with me Jesus, as You tear me apart.//

Chorus: Please kill the liar / Kill the thief in me / You know that I am tired of their cruelty / Breathe into my spirit / Breathe into my veins / Until only love remains.//

You burn away the ropes that bind and hold me to the earth / The fire only laves behind whatever is of worth / I begin to see reality for the first time in my life / I know that I'm a shadow but I'm dancing in your light.//

Chorus 2: Teach me to be humble / Call me from the grave / Show me how to walk with you upon the waves / Breathe into my spirit / Breathe into my veins / Until only love remains.//

Reviewed by Julie Carr for ChristianMusic.com

Visit JJ Heller's web-site to find out more about her and her music.

Sources: ChristianMusic.com interview with JJ Heller, JJ Heller web-site. * McCain & Co. materials.

 

The JJ Heller Music Store

The JJ Heller Video Song Samples...
"ONLY YOU", "LOVE ME" & "THE PRETTY & THE PLAIN"

PRETTY AND THE PLAIN Review


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