The House You're BuildingAudrey Assad, The House You’re Building (Sparrow)

While the Christian music landscape seems to be full of pop songstresses these days, it’s rare that a young 20-something enters the fray with not only something to say but a poetic way of saying it. New Sparrow Records singer/songwriter Audrey Assad makes her foray into Christian music with a mature debut that is both enjoyable and substantive.

It’s her contemplative lyrics and rich, emotive melodies that are sure to evoke relatable moments with her peers. Assad fuses the lyrical magnificence as well as the sweet, understated vocals of Joni Mitchell with the piano penchants of a modern-day Sara Bareilles. In Christian circles, she’s most comparable to Nichole Nordeman and Brooke Fraser, though Assad may be in a league all her own.

Lead single “For Love of You” is an accurate first look at the artistry and rare talent of Assad. Arguably one of the strongest tracks on the album, it showcases the lyrical depth of this new artist as well as the sweetness of her voice. The title track, reminiscent of Carole King,  slows things down a bit, but will still leaves listeners in awe as every note and lyric is finely tuned to perfection.

While the album as a whole is beautiful from front to back (a rare thing in this age of digital downloads), “Everything Is Yours” and “Carry Me” are stand-outs from the beginning, both faithful declarations of faith containing soaring melodies that crescendo into authentic moments of worship. “Known” is an intricately woven track with intimate lyrics that might raise a few eyebrows from the Christian community (As a lover knows his beloved’s heart /All the shapes and curves of her even in the dark). However, in the context of the song, these lyrics make the love of Christ, which Assad is trying to describe, that much more compelling and beautiful.

While “Restless” and “Run Forward” are more mid-tempo cuts, they are also worth noting as rich offerings of worship and honest portrayals of the human existence.

If anything, Assad’s raw, authentic lyrics will resonate deeply with listeners; the utter sweetness dripping from her voice is hard to resist. Assad is a rare breed of artists, the kind that has a long career ahead of her. Artists like Audrey Assad don’t come along often. Let’s hope her uniqueness doesn’t get overlooked.