MercyMe has been in the Christian music scene for some time now. You can hardly turn on Christian radio without hearing their mainstream hit “I Can Only Imagine.” In fact, that’s the song most people associate with them, but they are far from one-hit wonders. In fact their new album The Hurt & The Healer is their seventh studio album (being preceded by six independent albums). While they may not be gracing secular soft rock stations anymore, they are far from forgotten, and present a solid group of songs on this new disc.
“You Know Better” is a great opener for the disc, showcasing their signature upbeat light rock but adding a very appealing auto-tuned descamps part that help to make their sound slightly more cutting edge. I have to say, I appreciate that the Christian market in general is attempting to be more relevant in their affects and mixing. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s nice to see them actually trying. They also sample this sound on “Don’t Give Up On Me” which saves the song in my opinion.
The title track “The Hurt and The Healer” comes out in almost a Switchfoot-esque rock beat and entices its listeners. It paints a great picture of how Christ heals our broken hearts as the chorus touts, “I’m alive, even though a part of me has died, You take my heart and breathe it back to life. I fall into Your arms open wide, the hurt and the Healer collide.”
“The First Time” is the only slow song on the album and it’s a welcomed change. I really love MercyMe’s ability to put together a ballad. Lead singer Bart Millard ’s pipes were absolutely made for these kinds of songs. With sweeping strings, and light guitar accompanying a solid piano drive, it’s really one of the better songs on the album. Its message is just as powerful. As the chorus points out, “I thought I knew Your face, I thought I tasted grace, but I have never felt anything close to this. Just when I’d seen it, new mercy breaks the dawn and with my eyes open wide it feels like the first time.”
Overall the album is solid; it is not nearly as innovative as their 2004 album Undone, but they did experiment with some different sounds and effects, which was refreshing, though I could have gone for a few more slow, inspiring tunes to round the disc out.