With a mighty gift to share and a stunning knack for making a simple song feel like a larger than life testament to God’s greatness, Danise Esswein’s Love is Here captures the identity of modern Christian pop music wonderfully and brings forth one of its most exciting young talents. Esswein shines in four sumptuously smooth and relatable songs that espouse her personal relationship with God while also connecting with us through easygoing commentary wrapped in thoughtful poetry centered on faith. Designed for Christian listeners but transcendent through its warm lyrical approach, Love is Here is a surprisingly thought provoking EP from a singer who undisputedly has enormous potential.
The soft rocker “Sparkle in My Eyes” spotlights how adept Esswein is at attacking powerful melodies, no matter how mammoth they are. She works her way through the imagistic prose with ease, never stumbling as she weaves her fragile verses between the rollicking grooves. The track has somewhat of an alternative rock feel to it, but shies away from predictable stop/start dynamics. Her range is put to the test in the bridge, but much like her faith in Christ, it proves too strong to be broken. This song would have tremendous crossover appeal as a single.
“Following You” sees Esswein letting her hair down and rocking out a little more than she does in “Sparkle in My Eyes,” but her articulate lyricism always remains at the forefront of our attention. During the spoken word portion of the song, when the music is arguably at its most intense and explosive, it’s her intimate words that are keeping us spellbound above all else (which says a lot when you consider the immense musicality of the band behind her). Esswein is so good at translating unequivocal emotions into charming melodies that I can see her being just as skillful in an acoustic singer/songwriter capacity as she is here, loud and proud.
The playful “Eternal Life” is the most tempered song on the record, but yet again, when we isolate the poetry from the pulsating beats, we’re left shaken, stirred, and genuinely taken aback by Esswein’s well-rounded delivery. There’s not a single moment in this EP where she comes off as anything but fully authentic, genuine and heartfelt, and unlike a lot of her mainstream secular competition, she has no qualms about getting real with us without resorting to vulgarities or cringe-worthy, loathsome egotism and self-promotion.
The fourth track comprising Love is Here, the record-starting “Lord Hear My Song,” is a golden anthem of unconditional love and devotion to faith, and undisputedly makes this EP required listening for anyone who considers themselves to be a serious Christian Pop fan. Danise Esswein is only at the start of her career, but if Love is Here is merely setting the benchmark for what listeners and critics can anticipate from her studio output in the future, this won’t be the last time you see her name in print. She’s got the chops to do great things as a performer, and a deeper message that’s possibly even more important than the music itself.