Disclaimer: All views presented in this review are those of the reviewer and not of DJ Wade-O.
The raven is a bird with significant meaning in the Bible. While by natural standards, they are consistently connected with death, when referred to in the Bible, they are an image of God’s protecting love and goodness. Their cries signify that there is something either about to happen or that there is something worth their time in the vicinity. It’s not by happenstance that Jeremiah Bligen titled his debut project When Ravens Cry.
After releasing a mixtape called “Before I Wake”, he was named one of Rapzilla’s Top 13 of 2013 Freshman Class, and for good reason. His singing style stems from a connection with his late grandfather, who sang with a group called The Morning Star Hill Singers. That, combined with his attention to biblical detail in songs, and his passionate approach to delivering his messages, it definitely creates a sound that is all his own. So what better way to see what happens “When Ravens Cry,” than to go through the project and see what Jeremiah’s message is all about.
Jeremiah Bligen pulls a lot from his personal testimony to get his point across. From jump, Jeremiah is setting out to break whatever has become business as usual in the lives of the hurting world with “Pardon The Interruption.” It’s a full declaration of who God is and what he can do to fulfill any voids in your life. But what follows is “Take a Drive, To” – a song that shows the listener how Jeremiah overcame the struggle, because of this God that he passionately shares the message of. He even shares about the personal times of doubt he has faced because of how his current situation looked. Hearing these stories early on in the project helped build credibility towards his voice, as it proofed that even though Jeremiah is an artist with an album out, he has also struggled with the same things that others have overcome. He is an artist but also a human being who struggles just like everyone else.
With that being said, what follows is a multitude of “real life worship songs” – meaning, they are worships songs framed within the reality of everyday life, struggles, and unforeseen circumstances. First there is “Bleed,” a heart cry from the perspective of someone who knows that God is there with them, but they are tired of all the things going wrong back to back. And when you let all of that out, they’re brought to the point of needing God to be “Closer”(featuring Camille Faulkner).
From “Waiting Room” to “Never Ending” to “We Trust,” you get song after song about trusting in God or a scripturally based utterance to The Lord in the chorus. There is a nice song dedicated to his mother (“While They’re Red” featuring Aaron Wiggins), but the rest of the album is aimed vertically at God. You can’t skip through this album and not find a song that isn’t about relying on God, the desire to be with God, understanding who God is, or the power that God gives us to overcome our struggles.
I believe that Jeremiah’s purpose for this project was to create songs “for the storm.” We’re always going to face some sort of obstacle, right? So what Jeremiah did was make practical songs of worship, modeled by life, to encourage believers in the midst. And what the ravens cry symbolizes is God’s presence and provision in the midst of the storm. It’s a reminder that he is still present and very much aware and active in the situation. With a large portion of the CHH community leaning away from this direction, it’s always encouraging to see a project here and there that is based on this mindset of that delivery again.
Jeremiah is clearly a worshipper, and this album is full of songs that are to God, about God, and for God – and I am all for it! His style of singing is infectious when you get lost in the lyrics of the chorus. There is no doubt that he believes everything that he is saying. Jeremiah brings the same passion through every one of the songs on this project.
Now, I say that last statement with a small caveat: He does bring the same passion on every song, including with his delivery. That doesn’t mean that he is yelling on every song like Bone Crusher, by no means, but for those who like it when an artist tones it down every once and awhile, you don’t get it with that same level of up and down.
There are powerful chants and anthems that would rock any church worship concert looking for an urban take on gospel, as well as some hype tracks that can rally the warriors of God. Through them all, the lowest Jeremiah goes to is about a 70% on the intensity level. I personally enjoyed it because you feel every word he was saying, but for those who desire to see an artist drop it below 50% on a project, that is just a note to be mindful of.
This project is a refreshing new take on the way CHH used to have albums that were full of things about Jesus. It’s not cheesy and overly preachy either. It’s about God. It’s about the struggle of life. And it’s about what the Lord does to help us overcome. The project is full of verbiage that makes the listener think of God’s greatness, His characteristics, and His sovereignty over the most heartbreaking of situations. It also includes commendable features from Datin, Twyse, R-Swift, and Eshon Burgundy.
Pretty much, if you like to sing about God, and if you like hearing someone rap about God, you’re going to like this project. Jeremiah Bligen does both of these skillfully in When Ravens Cry.