Failing Faith by Wade Bearden, Free for CAPC Members
In Failing Faith, Wade Bearden invites us into his life so that we might find a faith that can hold up under the weight of real-world realities.
Do you remember the worship leader from season two of Netflix’s House of Cards? That’s Jae Jin. Landing the small role in such a powerfully intimate scene of a major internet and television phenomenon doesn’t happen by accident. In fact, much of Jae Jin’s life has been one of divine intervention, serving as the backdrop for which Jin has named his debut album, Kairos, made graciously available as a free download to Christ and Pop Culture members.
Kairos is a Greek word meaning an opportune moment–an appropriate title, since Jin only entered the music industry in 2015, yet has already managed to book a tour and produce a full-length album in collaboration with a talented roster of musician friends. Jin took the leap into a full-on music career following the success of a viral video he created featuring his vocals on a Sam Cooke song.With Kairos, the listener enters and exits the entire album through church.
It’s a tough balance, trying to hit the sweet spot between taking advantage of the opportune moment of a viral video and rushing online with a follow-up that doesn’t honor your ambitions as an artist.
With Kairos, Jin succeeds at this balancing act, creating carefully crafted songs that speak to his veteran status as a longtime musician, if not a full-time one until now. His sound combines pop, R&B, and soul, with an opening track that is infused with just enough gospel to give away Jin’s background in working with fellow church musicians. The lovely benediction Amen is the last track, offering a bit of faith to bookend the rest of the songs, as though the listener enters and exits the entire album through church.
The songs are soulful, yet Jin manages to inject a little humor in the mix, with a shout out to Cooke and fellow master Otis Redding with the little throwback track All Caught Up about the dangers of fame–in this case maybe even the fame provided via Sam Cooke himself.
Each track speaks to Jin’s own experiences, without overdoing the revelatory aspect of writing from his life.
Chemo Song is as haunting and poetic a track as you’re ever likely to hear about undergoing treatment for cancer. The “cosmic chaos” hovering over the cancer patient experiencing the machines delivering drugs designed to heal and kill at same time. As a cancer survivor himself, Jin manages to make the song work on both a literal and metaphorical level, no small feat:
A scent of bleach that rises up from
Crisp white linens meant to hug
A somber silence cuts so deep
Beside machines that never sleep
Can’t decide to sweat or shiver
My body’s weak from what’s delivered
In spite of series of lyrics about disappointed love, a sense of uncertainty and even the sort of despair that can sometimes feel overwhelming, the album is upbeat, with a thread of hope throughout.
In Moon & Stars, Jin sings about hanging onto this hope in the face of the reality that “we’re all just prodigals led astray,” his words underscored by the steady march of the drumbeat pulsating through the song, pushing us forward.
Even if we stumble, we are moving on.
I’m losing myself
As I try to hold on
To what I believe
Darkness is strong
But I still see the light
So i’ll stumble ahead
And move on.
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