"I've Been There"
By: Justin Ryan:
Review By Len Rogers
"I've Been There" by Justin Ryan is definitely a stereotype breaker. When I am about to listen to a specific genre of music I try not to let the expected create an impression. In this case even if I had allowed my expectations to rule, by the end of the first track all that would have changed. Not just because of Justin's emotion packed delivery, or his stellar vocal skills. The lyrics, the
accompaniment, the message all make for a truly original experience. This is one of the finest Contemporary Christian CD's I have heard. Consistent in message, yet full of unique qualities which compelled me on, song by song. This is a theme or message CD after all. That being Justin's answer to bullying, especially religious bullying. Not a topic frequently taken on by many artists of this genre. Justin covers bullying in several ways. Not all directed at religious bullying, but that is addressed and done very well.
You know you are in for something special beginning with the opening song, "We All Wanna Be Loved". Upbeat, catchy, heartfelt, and compelling the song immediately makes you want more. Justin's bright and full vocals bring delivery in a very special mode. By song's end you are indeed prepped and ready for a delightful and thought provoking time. That is exactly what Justin brings too. "I've Been There" the second song and title track have lyrics by the awe inspiring Marsha Stevens-Pino. Again Justin's delivery is a perfect glove fit. The song itself the ultimate and on spot for the title track. Addressing the pain and emotional impact of loneliness and bullying.
Several genres of musicality are also present in Ryan's "I've Been There." Including rock influenced songs like "If You Were God", and "Turn". Some bluesy ballads with warm tender messages like "I'm Not The Enemy" and duet with Marsha Stevens-Pino, "Can You Reach Me From Here". Some very contemporary pop sounding songs like the infectious "You Found Me" and opening song "We All Wanna Be Loved". So the journey in message is all about bullying, but the delivery and sound are varied, engaging, and down right entertaining. Not to mention touching. On religious bullying Ryan delivers a strong punch with "That's Not What I Meant". A definitive song about hate versus love and what was intended and meant in how we show God's grace and love. Beautifully delivered with true Ryan spirit and wonderful instrumentation.
One of my favorites would have to be "Blind Sparrow". A compassionate song about the darker sides of ourselves and especially those who bully and hate. The song asks for help and grace for those who do not always meet the real ideals of a Christian. Thus showing in a very strong way the actual belief system of what Christianity is all about. All in all "I've Been There" is one of the strongest musical statements on bullying I have heard. Lyrics that touch, heal, teach and awaken brought to life with music that wraps the message in a warm and touching blanket. Justin Ryan's vocal talents are the icing which makes this CD gold in emotional value and social message. A definite for all, and a musical testament to the power of the anti-bully.
For all information about Justin Ryan check out Justin's Website.
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