Look Up Child is the third studio album by American contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter Lauren Daigle. It was released on September 7, 2018.
Lauren has been described as the 21st Century’s Cinderella. Over the last three years, she has lived out the life of Cinderella. Back in 2015, Daigle was a relative unknown dreamy-eyed 24 year old girl from Louisiana. But with the advent of her debut record, How Can It Be, she has become the recipient of almost every conceivable accolade. This includes two Billboard Music Awards including the much esteemed Top Christian Award, two American Music Awards, seven GMA Dove Awards, gold certifications for three singles and three K-LOVE Fan Awards.
Even though Look Up Child is her third album, it is considered by many as her proper sophomore release especially since her second album, Behold: A Christmas Collection released in 2016 is an holiday album.
Following up a huge hit debut album is one of the trickiest propositions in all of popular music. The artist who poured a lifetime of songwriting in their first album must start over with only months to spare but now with bigger expectations and the challenges of fame and distractions of publicity can be taxing. So where does that leave Look Up Child after the success of How Can It Be?
The album debuted the Billboard 200 at Number 3. It accumulated 115,000 equivalent album units and 103,000 in traditional sales, the biggest debut for a Christian album since Casting Crowns’ Until The Whole World Hears sold 167,000 copies in one week during the 2009 holiday season. Daigle also scored the largest sales week for a Christian album by a woman since You Light Up My Life — Inspirational Songs moved 117,000 copies way back at the end of 1997. Daigle’s return is, indeed, grand.
With Daigle’s unmatched vocal talent, exceptional storytelling and melodies that stick, Look Up Child, is an impressive collection of songs that is certain to impress fans who have been highly anticipating the album. She describes the 13-track collection of songs as a personal project and shares that her heart behind the album was to help people experience the joy of the Lord.
In an interview with Billboard, Daigle said “I don’t shy away from singing about my faith. I think it conveys honesty, and people see authenticity. More people are going to relate to my music if it’s sincere. I believe that wholeheartedly. That’s how you reach people that might not have felt that [the Christian genre] was their home before. I want this to be such a record of joy, such a record of hope, that people experience a childlikeness again. In the time of making this record, I had to remember who I was as a child. I want people to reflect on, ‘the innocence of my childhood … how do I see myself through those eyes again? How do I love myself like that again? Where’s that joy? Where’s that hope?”
In another interview, she shared that, “It was all about joy… I feel like there were moments in the past year or two years that I really had to learn the difference between happiness and joy and where to fight for joy when all you feel is overwhelmed… everything that I wanted people to experience on this record are songs of joy, songs of passion and excitement, songs that remind people of their childlike nature, their childlike view of their life. And combining that with a message of hope.”
The album not only demonstrates growth but it does it in a way not at the expense of fans who have been smitten by her previous album. There are still songs that continue to mine the pop-centric colliery that her debut album started, but Look Up Child also finds Lauren exploring new terrains. Most pleasing is that the compass of her songs are pointed in more directions.
Album opener, Still Rolling Stones, has the musical stylistics of Adele meets Amy Winehouse. Often hailed as “the Adele of the Christian world”, Daigle’s husky vocals are such a treat to listen to! The song is a theatrical experience, filled with peaks and lows, backed by an orchestra and powerhouse backing vocals.
Listen to Still Rolling Stones here:
Rebel Heart which is arguably the nerve centre of the record, finds her addressing God directly. Sung as a heartfelt prayer with shivers of a contrition, Rebel Heart is a piano-based ballad of worship as Lauren leads us to repentance and renewal over a stirring melody. And to be able hear threads of the hymn “Take my Life” warms the song even more with familiarity.
Listen to Rebel Heart here:
Rescue, another gorgeous understated ballad, finds the compass taking a new direction. Viewed now from the vantage of God, the song gives us privy to God and his love for us in our desperate circumstances. The title track Look Up Child which has an old fashioned African-American Gospel swirl, is directed to the despondent with a simple exultation to look to God in the midst of one’s darkness.
Listen to Look Up Child here:
The catchy Your Wings has a similar vibe, and if you like reggae, you will enjoy this Caribbean-inspired song that speaks about being in the protection and safety of our Father God, who is our covering. Other notable songs include This Girl, I Remember, Losing My Religion and You Say. My favourite song in the album is no doubt, Everything.
Listen to Everything here:
Album closer, Turn Your Eyes, is the cherry on top. The traditional hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, has been given new life, complete with a jazz remix and a really stunning vocal arrangement with Daigle’s soulful vocals adding a new depth and feel to a song that we’ve probably overlooked due to familiarity. I thoroughly enjoyed this version of it!
Most pop music is formulaic, worship music exceedingly so, because formula is the shortest route to connecting with a mass audience. Lauren disrupted the formula, took a risk and it paid off, by giving the pop Christian music a breath of fresh air. This is, without a doubt, one of the best albums I have listened to in the recent past.