Jeremy Camp is easily one my favourite artists in the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) genre, with his amazing albums including Stay and Restored. And now, in the beginning of next year, Camp is releasing a new album titled, I Will Follow. So I thought I’d go back and look at his previous record, Reckless, and the musical direction he has taken over the years.
Camp began as a rock singer with his album, Stay. To this day it remains his most hard hitting album, both musically, and emotionally, even getting close to metal with his song Take My Life. Easily my favourite album out of Camp’s career. His later albums and everything after that until Speaking Louder than Before were good, but didn’t exceed the greatness of Stay, and slowly but surely, the rock sound began do disappear.
One thing to note is that Camp has never really been an original artist. His music brings clear comparisons with other Christian and secular rock artists, even in his early days, except he did it the best. But those comparisons have turned from artists such as Creed and Matchbox Twenty, to Christian artists Chris Tomlin and Tim Hughes. Unfortunately, in my opinion, neither of those Christian artists bring anything original to the table.
With Reckless, Camp has turned to the genre nearly every Christian rock artist has conformed to, and that’s Worship (yes, it’s a genre). And like much of the worship out there, musically, it’s all done before. With Reckless, Camp has forsaken all that has made him brilliant in the past, and has turned to mediocrity. You won’t find any hard hitting emotional tracks like I Still Believe or Walk By Faith, neither will you find hard rock songs like Take My Life or Breathe. Keyboard has taken the lead, and it all sounds overproduced and gleamed over with a plastic, polished finish.
The album begins with a trilogy of up tempo numbers with Reckless, The Way You Love Me, and Free. While these songs are okay, they’re mostly forgettable, especially Free. While I was hoping for one of those amazing Camp ballads with Paradise, it quickly turned into another up tempo worship number in the chorus.
We Must Remember is one of my favourites off the record, and is a definite highlight. It begins slowly, building to a magnificent climax. It’s about remembering what Christ did for us and our position in Him.
The record then, unfortunately, spirals back down with Shine, Come Alive, and My God. Lyrically passionate, musically bland and without a lot of depth, often relying on overdone worship cliches to carry them along.
But without a doubt, the record ends on its highest note with Without You. A song of pure surrender and devotion. I felt a bit of the passion that was felt with Stay on this song, and I often times come back to this and We Must Remember.
Over the years, I’m sad to report that Camp has declined, and Reckless is probably the weakest of his discography yet. But what hasn’t declined is his passion for God, and that’s one of the reasons Camp is such a highlight in the CCM genre. He’s doing it for God, not for a label, not for money, and not for fame, for the glory of God.
Overall, this album will, and has, appealed to the masses and to fans of Chris Tomlin and the likes, but for those who want a little more artistry and depth will want to look elsewhere.
In addition, after listening to the new single off the up-coming album, He Knows, I have to say it sounds completely in the same vein as this album. In fact, I actually thought it was a song off Reckless when listening to it. If this is the musical direction Camp wishes to pursue, I respect him and pray that more and more people will be touched by it, but for me, I might have to jump out of the camp. It’s sad, because I know he is capable of so much more.