Dynamite first full-length from Katy Nichole

Katy Nichole
Jesus Changed My Life
Label: Centricity Music
Length: 11 songs/40 minutes

Not since Lauren Daigle’s debut have I been as excited by a first full-length recording. The root word for excite means “to move, stir up, instigate” and that’s how I feel. Nichole’s testimonies of God’s power to set free move and stir me.

Power is another appropriate word since the Holy Spirit is often associated with it. The lyrics reflect that source and with the music are dynamite.

This is what reminded me of Lauren Daigle. They share strong voices, excellent backing and production, and a focus on God and his ability to transform lives.

“In Jesus Name (God of Possible)” is the soundtrack for Nichole’s going from being bedridden to becoming known to many. It’s compassionate and bold at the same time: “I speak the name of Jesus over you.” Lyrically, it’s Charismatic in nature: “I pray that a breakthrough would happen today/I pray miracles over your life in Jesus name.” Faith declarations abound.

As powerful as it may be, I like “Jesus Changed My Life” even more. It has a Southern roots rock feel. I hear a little country in her voice as she contrasts a soul’s journey from darkness to light. A slide guitar gives the sound some swagger. Her voice soars and the music explodes on the chorus. It may not be innovative and deep theologically but it’s a testimony of liberation that soars with the music.

Big Daddy Weave joins Nichole for “God is in This Story.” Their relationship began when the group invited Nichole to join them on select dates for the band’s spring 2022 tour. The opening lines describe a hopelessness that might seem to define a person but that is not the end of the story. She sings that there are “words that tell me I’m no good” but the hands of grace and endless love “told my heart that hope is never gone.”

On “Old Man,” Neil Young sings, “Love lost, such a cost. Give me things that don’t get lost.” “Things I Wish I Would’ve Said” is grieving such a loss, which comes with so much cost. Acoustic guitar gives it a plaintive feel with pedal steel furthering the sentiment.

Like “Jesus Changed My Life,” “Jesus Thank You” is electrifying. This release is worth having just for these two songs alone. This has a strong gospel influence complete with choir and excellent guitar work. Like the other aforementioned song it’s a celebration. It’s abundant life overflowing in gratitude. Once again I hear a little country inflection in the voice. Nichole is a force to be reckoned with when she leans toward country rock.

“Living Proof” begins quietly with a sober feel before breaking into forceful declarations of God’s healing power and faithfulness. It’s just another example of how well many of the songs fit Nichole’s life.

Fiddle adds to the swing on “By the Grace of God.” It adds energy to the bold, rural-sounding confidence.

“Please” is a cry of desperation. The music mirrors the insistence in the lyrics.

“Hold On” has a melancholy beginning with just piano and vocals. Nichole is equally at home between thoughtful ballads and rousing testimony songs. Here she sings of times when small clouds and darkness obscure seeing God in our circumstances.

“Take it to the Cross” has a marching rhythm that once again has a huge chorus. It’s an exhortation to take all our burdens to Christ. At one point it seamlessly incorporates a few lines from the hymn “Nothing But the Blood.”

She makes a similar move on the closing “Turn to Jesus” where listeners hear an interlude consisting of the “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” chorus. This is a gorgeous stripped-down song that serves as a fitting closer. Keyboard and strings provide the background.

This is a strong full-length debut for fans of pop/rock, testimony-oriented songs that incorporate praise and worship.

Michael Dalton