The Generous Mr. Lovewell
Singer Bart Millard never intended to be part of a multiplatinum-selling Christian band. Actually, hailing from a Texas football family, the gridiron was Millard's first choice. But ankle injuries led to choir electives which led to helping out with a youth group worship band which led to standing in for the lead singer which led to … being a part of a multiplatinum-selling Christian band.
By 2001 Bart was fronting a sextet called MercyMe that splashed on the scene with its first album and a hit called "I Can Only Imagine"—a song birthed out of Millard's personal pain over his father's death from cancer. Since then, accolades have been a constant for this consistently gold- and platinum-selling group. Billboard, for instance, named it the No. 1 Christian Songs Artist of the Decade in 2009.
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The retro-sounding electronic rock intro "This Life" sets up the idea that we have more responsibility—to God and to the world around us—than to just get comfortable in life ("Hold your heads up high/This is our moment to rise/We were meant to shine/Not just survive"). And the title track embraces that theme as the title character leads by example ("He wakes up every day the same/Believing he's gonna make a change/Never wonders 'if' but 'when'").
Millard admits life can be tough when "right keeps going wrong," but he looks for God to lead him to "brighter days" on "Move." "Crazy Enough" wonders aloud, with an echo-heavy spy movie vibe, if loving others is really as crazy as it sounds ("Reaching out to the ones who need help/Treating them as you first would treat yourself/Now, that would be insane").
"All of Creation" lends a traditional Christian anthem feel to the song mix as it solidly ties love back to its source: a heavenly Father. And even though the world often says we're not good enough, MercyMe points out that we're "Beautiful" and treasured by a loving God ("You're the one He madly loves/Enough to die/You're beautiful in His eyes").
The easy grooving "Back to You" promises that "I may slip, slide and watch our worlds collide/But I will hit the ground running back to You." The praise chorus "Only You Remain" thanks God for His eternal consistency. And "Free" proclaims that no matter what chains the world imposes, God is our means of freedom.
And there's still more: God calls out to us to be His love to a broken world on "Won't You Be My Love" ("She is not to blame for the journey she is on/Her life is no mistake/Won't you lead her to My cross?"). And "This So Called Love" concludes with this penetrating thought: No matter how much effort we put into loving others, "If all that we do/Is absent of Jesus/Then this so-called love/Is completely in vain."
In the 1960s, John Lennon and Paul McCartney's song about a myopic "Nowhere Man" challenged a generation to get off their duffs and plug into the world around them. It's easy to see MercyMe's 2010 ditty "The Generous Mr. Lovewell" as that Nowhere Guy's polar opposite contemporary.
Indefatigably cheerful, Mr. Lovewell is a simple soul who changes his world and inspires others with little acts of love and kindness.
Altogether, this sometimes bouncy, sometimes quiet and thoughtful collection presents an extremely listenable recounting of the impact a single person can have on the world if he or she will simply recognize God's pure love and carry it into the minutia of life.