Joyful Abundance: A review of Andrew Osenga’s Living Water EP
Waking up to joy can feel like spring. One day, it’s all gray skies and brown sticks. The next, the ground has softened into mud and the trees are covered with flowers you barely noticed were budding. That’s the feeling of Andrew Osenga’s new EP Living Water, five songs that prepare the way for his upcoming album Headwaters like a garden bursting into bloom.
Longtime fans know Osenga for thoughtful story songs with a melancholy yet ultimately hopeful and often playful edge. He’s taken us on a journey into deep space with a lonely astronaut, explored his genre versatility through his Heart and Soul, Flesh and Bone EP collection, and explored the depths of pain and hope in 2018’s The Painted Desert. After over two decades of music-making, he’s ready to take a different turn, from the desert to the waters of life. “This is definitely the most gospel-forward project I’ve done personally,” he said in a recent Rabbit Room interview. After years of processing sadness and struggle through music, now he finds himself ready to offer something new to his daughters and the Church—something joy-filled and hopeful, telling stories of resurrection and restoration.
A couple of different styles come together on this EP. On the one hand, it shows Osenga’s flair for rock ’n roll, something we haven’t really heard since his (incredibly fun) Flesh EP. “Living Waters” explodes from an electric guitar solo and keeps The Killers-esque driving momentum all the way through. At the EP’s midpoint, “Hold On To Me” rides an easy rock groove for a song about keeping hope alive, even in darkness.
The rest of the tracks explore territory we haven’t really heard much on Osenga’s past albums: Church-centered worship songs. On the first listen, “Rejoice Again” may catch longtime listeners off guard. Its straightforward melody and singable lyrics wouldn’t feel out of place at your local church, but it feels intentional in its simplicity. The themes of resurrection continue through “Risen One,” and “Peace of God” rounds out the collection with a gentle acoustic prayer: “Peace of God / Reign in me / Beyond my understanding / Beyond my unbelief.” For fans of worship artists like Mission House, these songs will feel like an easy choice to include in a Sunday morning playlist. Happy songs are everywhere in the world of Christian music, but genuine joy? That’s challenging to capture. But the hope in these songs feel earned, real, and truthful, like a balm for weariness or cynicism. For Osenga, this is only the beginning of a fruitful new era of music — from producing community projects like Anchor Hymns and The Faithful Project, to hymns released under the name The Quiet Hours, to even more solo singles leading the way to Headwaters.
Living Water is the sound of new life breaking forth, the year of the locust giving way to a season of spiritual and artistic abundance.
Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, freelance writer, and spiritual director. Her words have appeared at She Reads Truth, CCM Magazine, and other publications, and she released her first poetry collection Ruins & Kingdoms in 2015. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Chris, where you can find her enjoying used bookstores and good coffee.