This past Easter may have been filled with unknowns, depending on if, how and where you celebrate it. But one thing no one was expecting was a gospel EP released by Justin Bieber.
The “Boyfriend” singer posted a cryptic Instagram post on Easter, sending fans into a frenzy. Admittedly, I found the album while on my own search for new Christian music, and let me tell you, I literally dropped my jaw and let out the most exaggerated gasp ever. While I've never been a Belieber — and I mean I really don't like his music — I do enjoy the vibe (and message) of “Freedom.”
“Freedom” consists of six songs, each with their own unique tone thanks to a variety of featured artists such as Tori Kelly and Chandler Moore. It opens with “Freedom,” which starts off sounding like Drake's "One Dance" with a fun, reggae tone. It transitions into a unique sounding refrain — “Freedom, don't it feel good?” — leading into a bridge sung by Beam. “Freedom” is a great way to start off the album and introduces us to its overarching message of freedom through Jesus.
“All She Wrote” has an R&B vibe with a “Give it all to God,” finding-purpose-in-life kind of message, while “Where You Go I Follow” reminds me of a more “traditional” Christian song — like one we might hear from Hillsong United — with a direct devotion to Jesus as Bieber repeats, “There's nobody like you, Jesus.”
My favorite songs on the EP are “We're In This Together” and “Where Do I Fit In.” “We're in This Together” reminds me of NF's songs — one of my favorite artists — with anecdotal lyrics and a soft rap style. The song even references the pandemic (which sounds so weird in a song but alas, it's our reality) and I appreciated its relevance to the current state of the world. The outro is my favorite part of “We're In This Together” because Bieber speaks to us in prayer form, which is very unique not only for him, but for many Christian songs in general.
“Where Do I Fit In” is definitely my favorite song on the entire EP. It features Tori Kelly, Chandler Moore and Judah Smith. It's a very gentle and peaceful song. I'm told by my friends that I like to listen to sad music, and while this isn't a sad song, it definitely fits the vibe of driving with your windows down on a summer night with no worry in the world except for your next turn. Chandler Moore ends the song beautifully as he takes over with a “God-like” voice and encourages us that “It'll be alright.”
The album ends with “Afraid to Say,” which wakes us up from the calmness of “Where Do I Fit In” with its abrupt transition to of a strumming guitar. Its message is a perfect way to end this album, with Bieber asking crucial questions like, “Can't there be room for maturity?” and “Do we got the room to make mistakes?” It reminded me of his duet with Shawn Mendes in "Monster”, which holds a similar message.
Overall, “Freedom” seems to be a new beginning for Bieber, as he is “freed” from his past self and blossoms into a higher level of maturity. I personally beliebe (sorry, I had to) that anyone can find value in this EP and the message that is layered underneath beautiful shifts in music and a variety of voices, all of which tie each song together in perfect harmony.
EP: “Freedom” by Justin Bieber
Label: Def Jam Recordings
Favorite Songs: “We're In This Together,” “Where Do I Fit In”
If you like: NF, Kanye West (“Jesus is King"), Lecrae
Shamrocks: 4 out of 5