Francesca Battistelli was born on May 18, 1985 in New York City. Both of her parents were involved with musical theatre. She is known for songs such as ‘I’m Letting Go’, ‘Free to Be Me’, ‘This is the Stuff’, and ‘Motion of Mercy’. IF WE’RE HONEST (2014, Fervent/Curb) is her third major label studio album. Ian Eskelin is the producer. In the CD booklet Francesca writes: “Jesus, You are everything. Thank You for allowing me this outlet to share music, to do ministry, and to glorify You. These songs are Yours”.
‘Write Your Story’ is the great pop lead single penned by Francesca, David Arthur Garcia, and Ben Glover. It is the song of one wanting God to be totally in charge of her life: “I’m an empty page/I’m an open book/Write Your story on my heart/Come on and make Your mark/Author of my hope/Maker of the stars/Let me be Your work of art/Won’t You write Your story on my heart?” ‘When the Crazy Kicks In’ features some neat pop beats and speaks of the importance of personal devotions: “Pushed and pulled by a thousand expectations/And all the roles that I’m supposed to play/To hit the ground running’s a temptation/But I have learned this lesson the hard way/A little time with You/The only way to get me through the day/Oh, come meet me in this moment/Before it all gets going/And these plates start to spin”.
‘He Knows My Name’ was written by Francesca, Mia Fieldes, and Seth Mosley. It is the song of one who knows where their true identity comes from: “He calls me chosen/Free, forgiven/Wanted, child of the King/His forever/Held and treasured/I am loved/I don’t need my name in lights/I’m famous in my Father’s eyes”. ‘Unusual’ is a good pop/dance number in the vein of latter era Newsboys. It praises those who are bold and unashamed in their faith: “Gray is now the status quo/Black and white’s not in, you know/You’re the zebra in the pony show/You wear your faith just like a light/I’d say you’re doing something right.../Standing up for Jesus’ Name/Just let them call you strange”.
‘Choose to Love’ has an R&B feel to it. It reminds us that as Christians our lives should impact others positively: “I’m gonna choose to reach out/Choose to lay down/All of the fear that I’ve been hiding/Choose to be brave/Though my heart’s afraid/To be a part of Your Kingdom rising, oh/God, I’m done running from/The reason that You sent Your Son/So I’m gonna choose to love/Maybe I’ll hurt, maybe I’ll bruise/Maybe I’ll cry, maybe I’ll lose/Still I will choose to love”. ‘Run to Jesus’ is a stunning pop gem. It is a song of spiritual invitation: “When you’ve reached the end of every road/And you’re a million miles from home/That’s when you run, run to Jesus/When the clouds have covered up the sun/And your strength is all but gone/That’s when you run, that’s when you run, that’s when you run”.
‘Find Rest’ is a composition by Francesca, Jared Anderson, and Ian Eskelin. It uses pedal steel guitar, cello, viola, and violins, while Debi Selby provides additional backing vocals. Based on Psalm 62:5, it is an inspirational song: “Find rest my soul/Put your hope in God/Put your hope, put your hope in God/He always is, He always will be/He always has been everything I need/How can this be, catching me by surprise?/He’s ever strong, He’s ever faithful/His love is real, now nothing is impossible/Cause nothing catches Him by surprise”. ‘If We’re Honest’ is a well delivered ballad written by Francesca, Jeff Pardo, and Molly E. Reed. It encourages us to be spiritually transparent with each other and God: “Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not/Living life afraid of getting caught/There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross, at the cross/So bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine/Cause love can heal what hurt divides/And mercy’s waiting on the other side/If we’re honest, if we’re honest”.
‘Giants Fall’ evokes the Old Testament story of David and Goliath: “Don’t you be afraid/Of giants in your way/With God you know that anything’s possible/So step into the fight/He’s right there by your side/The stones inside your hand might be small/But watch the giants fall”. ‘Hands of God’ is a nice adult contemporary song featuring Sanctus Real vocalist Matt Hammitt. It praises human companionship and encouragement: “Every time you listen to me/Cause you know I need a friend/Every time you stop what you’re doing/And help me find my way again/I hope you know/To me you are/The hands of God/You are the hand upon my shoulder when I’m hurting/You are the voice of truth and love when I am searching/For every time you reach to help me in my need/One day Jesus will say/’You did it for Me’”. ‘We are the Kingdom’ is a great album closer with Gabe Scott on hammer dulcimer. This song finds Francesca wanting to share Christ with the world: “We are the Kingdom, we are the light/You set a fire we cannot hide/And we’ll be Your city burning so bright/Cause we are the Kingdom/We’ll shine Your light and raise it high, raise it high/The Kingdom of God is alive, is alive”.
The deluxe edition of IF WE’RE HONEST includes four bonus songs. Jesus Culture’s Brian and Katie Torwalt wrote ‘Holy Spirit’, a reverent praise and worship song: “I’ve tasted and seen/Of the sweetest of loves/Where my heart becomes free/And my shame is undone/Your presence, Lord/Holy Spirit, You are welcome here/Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere/Your glory God is what our hearts long for/To be overcome by Your presence Lord/There’s nothing worth more/That could ever come close”. ‘Keeping Score’ is a funkified pop song that is a testament to God’s grace: “I know you’re thinking that you’ve finally gone too far/And you’re certain He’ll be closing the door/But you’ve gotta believe the things you’ve done aren’t beyond His love/He’s not keeping score/If He can make the morning/He can make redemption too/There’s nothing you could do/To take that away”.
‘I am Home’ is autobiographical: “I was born in New York City/Raised in the sunshine state/And I met a boy from Georgia/And we set a wedding date/Now my heart beats for the drummer/Yeah, there’s no sign of slowing down/Together we sing for our supper/Every night, a different town, singing/Maybe I was made to wander/Maybe I was born to roam/But, baby, as long as you’re with me/I am home, I am home”. ‘Tonight’ was co-written by and features Integrity Music’s All Sons & Daughters. It is a quiet song praising God’s comforting ways: “Your love is deep/Your love is wide/And I will rest in Your arms tonight.../Lay Your peace/Like a blanket over me/And as I lay down to sleep/I will rest in You”.
Francesca Battistelli is undisputedly one of the top female Contemporary Christian Music artists performing and ministering today. Her voice is distinct and strong. Her music is fresh, contemporary, fun, and youthful. Her message is one of hope and salvation through Jesus Christ. This is one of my favorite albums of the year! I recommend it to fans of Britt Nicole, Jaci Velasquez, and 1 Girl Nation. The pictures of Francesca included with this project are tasteful and gorgeous. I’m rating IF WE’RE HONEST 95%. For more info visit: www.francescamusic.com and www.wordlabelgroup.com.