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Derek Johnson - Real Love [Review]

Derek Johnson - Real Love [Review]

By Chris Olson on April 13, 2015

Derek Johnson is a part of the Jesus Culture community and has actually led worship at every Jesus Culture conference since 2011. So, if you’ve been to a Jesus Culture conference lately, or if you heard the song “I Belong To You” on the 2012 live album from Jesus Culture (Live From New York – With Martin Smith), then you’ve heard Derek!

One of the first things you’ll notice about this album is Derek’s vocal talent. Dude’s got a killer voice! Has a great grumble to it that really adds depth and emotion to every lyric he sings. Pair that with some solid songwriting chops, and you get some good stuff. "My heart is to write songs that lead people to Jesus," Derek shares. "Whether they have a relationship with Him and know His love or they are still searching for truth, my desire is that anyone who hears these songs will be brought into a deeper understanding of worship and the God of real love."

This 12 song album titled, Real Love, is solid from start to finish. I will say that in some cases I feel like the song/arrangement is perhaps just 5% off, and with a tweak would be even better. But that’s me putting on my “Super Nit-Picky Reviewer” hat (presently not for sale, but I will talk to the head honchos at AllAboutWorship.com to see about merchandising), and it’s entirely subjective. So, with that out of the way, “What about the songs, Chris?!?!”

Well, since you asked so nicely...

Track two, “The One We Love,” is a great tune with a driving vibe, but not heavy-handed. I like the small things, and thus I actually really dig the prechorus on this one.

“I Belong To You” is one of my faves on this project. I am personally not a big fan of the intro/turnaround hooks, but that’s just me. The chorus stands out for me, with a great arrangement, including a nice guitar part with some super nice tone (you gearheads will appreciate that). 

The chorus of “Bright As You” has a really great “lift” feel to it, thanks to a really nice melody that is super easy to sing along with.

Looking for a fun, uptempo song? Give “Heaven Meeting Earth” a spin. I think it’ll be right up your alley.

“Made To Last” is my favorite on the album, primarily due to the killer chorus melody and solid lyrics. This song has a super chill vibe, with a smooth, pad-driven intro. Verse two features some of the best lyrics on the album, “You’re the peace that calmed the storms inside of me/That tore down every veil in between/You’re the power death could not defeat/Lord you are.”

Lastly, my second favorite tune is “Washed Away.” This song, in my humble opinion, probably has the best overall arrangement on the entire album. A cool thing about this tune is that the title of the track hints at two main points communicated in the song: In the chorus we hear “Your love and your mighty waves/I’m washed away in it/I’m overcome,” and in the bridge we sing, “Washed away, all my stains forever I am changed!” I really dig this dual application of the imagery presented in this tune, and it does a great job of bringing the listener/worshiper into that imagery throughout the song.

Real Love is a solid project from Derek Johnson and the Jesus Culture team. Thanks, at least in part, to Derek’s vocals and some of the arrangement choices, this album often has a mid-90’s feel to it – And for me, that’s a compliment! Every song stays true to Derek’s ultimate goal – they will lead you closer to Jesus, if you let them. Now, I don’t see every track being super effective in a corporate worship setting, but I think you will find a few tunes that will be a great addition to your worship rotation. So put this in your ears and give it a few spins, will ya?!

Disclosure: A copy of this album was provided by the record label or artist for review purposes. The iTunes widget above is a part of an affiliate program. If you purchase the album through the widget, a small percentage of the sale will benefit All About Worship.

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Chris Olson

Chris Olson

Chris has been involved in worship ministry in some way for over 20 years, ranging from worship team guitarist/bassist/drummer to staff worship pastor. Chris presently serves as one of the worship leaders at Grace Church in Overland Park, KS, and is also a songwriter with a passion to write songs for the local church.  Chris married WAY up when his wife Rachel said “I do,” and they have two awesomely awesome kids, Aedan and Caitlin.

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