VOTA is the band formerly known as Casting Pearls. Group members are: Bryan Olesen (lead vocals, guitar), Stefan Carlson (bass), John Wooten (drums), and Justin Wantz (guitar, keyboard). Olesen was actually lead guitarist for Newsboys from 2003 to 2006. A press release reveals a cause that is held dear by the members of VOTA: “In partnership with Tiny Hands International, the members of VOTA have committed to raise support for five monitoring stations on the border of Nepal and India over the course of five years. Each station is able to intercept as many as 130 girls annually being trafficked into India; VOTA hopes to save more than 3000 children from becoming victims.” LOVE FOUND ME (2013, Big Box Records) is the band’s first new studio recording in five years.
The danceable lead single ‘God of the Universe’ finds the band compelled to speak of the goodness and greatness of God: “I do not understand it/This is far too great for me/That all this beauty and wonder/Is nothing compared to Your love for me/With all my love, with all my heart/I’ll tell the world who You are.” The dance party continues with ‘Lift me Up’ which is the song of one who has come to the end of his or her rope: “I’ve been here before, I can’t take no more/Living for myself, it’s a living hell/I am on my knees, sick and tired of me/Come and take away all of my mistakes/Take my heart Lord,, come and rescue me.”
‘Learning to Dream’ is a pop song that reminds us adults that we can learn valuable lessons from children: “I see my little boy got an unstoppable joy/He sees everything like it’s supposed to be/Watching him is changing me…/I want to live my dream/The world’s gonna see love shine through me.” ‘Love Found Me’ is one of four songs penned solely by Bryan Olesen. It is a song of praise: “Your love is strong, never lets go/I’m in Your hands/Jesus, You’re my hero…/How beautiful Your love for me/How wonderful the mystery/That on the cross You took my place, now I am Yours/We’re sons and daughters, yes we are/Sons and daughters, yes we are/Sons and daughters of the living God.”
‘Show me what I’ve Got’ begins on a sad, but all too familiar note: “She looks up at me with big bright eyes and smiles/Says ‘Hey daddy can you play with me awhile?’/’I’m sorry dear, not today’/So much work, no time for play/She turns and walks away.” ‘Blame Me’ is a tasty rocker that takes aim at the self-righteous: “You point your fingers at the left and the right/Got all the answers, you know what’s black and what’s white/Always the victim, no you’re never part of the fault/So listen Mr./Why are you standing so tall?/So put your boots on, climb down from your wall/Cuz we’re to blame for everything that’s broken in this world.”
‘Open the Sky’ tells of our faithful God: “In the darkest place secrets that I hide, oh I know You can see them/Through all of my mistakes, You’re still by my side/You are the hope I believe in…/You made me, You know me through and through/So take me and make me more like You.” ‘You Alone’ finds one purposely aligning their will and spirit with God’s: “I’m letting go of all that I know/I’m holding on to You alone/I lay it all down here at Your feet/I want You alone, You alone.”
A beautiful ballad is next. ‘Keep me where You are’ shows a desire to abide in Christ: “I’m done chasing after fame and fortune, it only turns to dust/I’m done holding on to who I was, oh Lord I’m letting go/Oh why do I keep on looking when I know You’re mine?.../You’re so beautiful/You fill my heart/Lord keep me where You are.” ‘Crying Out’ is a quiet song of spiritual desperation: “I need more than Your promise now/I need Your voice, I need Your touch/Walking by faith just ain’t enough/I need You here/I need You now/This is my heart crying out.” The album ends with ‘Come to Me’, a song of invitation written by Jenny Wahlstrom: “Come all you thirsty, I’ll give you water to drink/Come all you weary, I’ll give you peace enough to sleep/Come all you people, you oppressed in heart/Who lost your dignity and your value in this world/Listen you who have ears to hear, who have feet to walk, who have eyes to see/Come be near Me.”