Joanna Martino:

My World


My #5 Album

in 2009


in 2005

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This page was first posted March 21, 2010.

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Joanna Martino recorded this album at age 19, three years after performing on American Idol.  She has now married and has a new album out under her new name, Joanna Beasley.

    I can’t believe I like this album, let alone that it makes #5 on my list.  This is a producer’s me it’s like some producer (in this case, Drew Cline) wants to make an album, so he finds a singer, gives her a bunch of songs, and voilá, a new artist.  To make it worse, this comes from Nashville, the center of the universe for Christian music, where everyone feeds off of each other and the music all sounds the same.

    The paragon of fakeness in this album is found in the song “You Love Me,” which is the song of a girl who is discouraged by all the culture’s adulation of beauty, and how she has to remind herself that God loves her regardless of her appearance.  This didn’t ring true to me when I heard it--I couldn’t imagine that this singer would have written the song.  She is obviously attractive, and the producer has highlighted this by plastering her all over the cover--especially in this center foldout shown to the left.  So I looked at the composer credits.  Not only did Joanna Martino not write the song, which was as I had assumed, but the song wasn’t even written by a woman--it was written by two guys!  Good grief!  This kind of music fakery is part of what makes Nashville CCM the object of so much scorn...including mine, as you can see.

    So, despite my distaste for producer albums promoted as artist albums (as opposed to albums that are openly and honestly producer albums, like those by DreamLab), and my distaste for the Nashville CCM scene where the in-crowd songwriters generate songs for all these artists that starry-eyed producers dig up, I really like this album of professional composer songs that is produced with a 100% Nashville CCM sound.  I’m shocked at myself.  So the question is, why do I like it so much?

    Well, it all begins with something that has nothing to do with this music.  Remember those mail order record clubs, Columbia House and BMG?  I belonged to both since the early 1980s; Columbia House bit the dust in 2005 after its 50th anniversary (see my farewell to Columbia House on my blog); BMG lasted until 2009.  I belonged to the Christian music division of the club, Sound & Spirit, ever since its inception in 1996.  When the announcement came that Sound & Spirit (and all of BMG) was coming to an end, I wanted to get in my last purchase, since it was through this club, particularly in the early days, that I had discovered some of my favorite artists, such as Aleixa, Broomtree, Bon Voyage, and Viva Voce.  By 2009, the club’s regular offer was “Buy 1, Get 4 Free,” but to do that, they had to limit the inventory to the top sellers.  Since there is not very much music I like among top sellers, I had to start digging for something that I could get with my 4 Free selections.  And that’s how I discovered Joanna Martino.

    Unlike most of the other soundalike CCM artists I sampled who had that mellow CCM radio sound, Joanna Martino’s songs had energy to them.  I think what really got me was the opening track--ha ha, this one is called “Energy.”  It has a dark, powerful rock sound to it.  After I got the album and began thinking about this one, I realized that since this album was released in 2005, they were probably recording it in 2004, when Evanescence was very popular, because this song sounds a lot like Evanescence.  Since it’s the only song on the album like that, it makes what is obvious even more clear--it’s highly derivative of what was popular at the time.  But I don’t care.  I still like the song a lot.  I bought the album mainly for this one song, even though I knew none of the others sounded like it.

    Surprisingly, after I got the album, as much as I liked the opening track “Energy,” it was the second song that I latched onto the most.  “Right Where You Want Me” became my favorite song on the album, and I have played this song many times more than any other song on the album.  This song is also full of energy, has a very catchy chorus (here’s where having the professional composer is not so bad), and the lyrics are meaningful to me also.

    Following “Right Where You Want Me” is “God Is Never Gone,” which is a nice reminder that God is always with you.  Nothing original here, yet it was a message I appreciated being reminded of in my busy days while listening to this album.

    Yes, because of its energy, that’s when I tended to listen to My World -- in the midst of hectic days of everyday life.  “Right Where You Want Me,” “God Is Never Gone,” and “Renegade” are all high energy, uptempo power pop songs with strong electric guitar power chords supporting lively choruses that help keep up the needed energy for a busy day...another reason that I listened to this album a lot.

    On the slower end of things, there is still some significant power in some of the songs.  “Fall,” for example, is slower, yet still boasts electric guitar power chords on the chorus.  “Lay It Down” is another slower tempo song with rather mellow verses, but powerful melodic choruses.  I like the words in this one, which follow a vein similar to the second song:  “I will lay it down at Your feet...Lord, I will give you all of me.”  The third song in this category is “Psalm 108,” whose strong chorus has these words:  “Great is Your love, higher than the heavens.  Your faithfulness reaches to the sky; be praised, O God, You’re far above the heavens, let your glory fly over all the earth.”

To previous album on 2009 awardsDream_Lab_-_Worship_Revolutions.html

The CD insert’s foldout picture

an excerpt of lyrics from “Right Where You Want Me”

This life is not about me, it’s about your mercy

And your glory and every day becoming more like you

Cuz when it all falls down

And blows up in my face

You lift me up to a higher place

It’s over my head, out of my reach

I lay it down on the ground and I’m on my knees

You’re all that I’ve got, you’re all that I need

And suddenly I find myself where I need to be

I’m right where you want me

When she hits the word “fly,” that note goes high, emphasizing the height of praise.  It’s songwriting touches like this that make each song strong in melody and have the right approach for each lyric.  The most powerful is, “It’s over my head” from “Right Where You Want Me,” in which the word “head” goes up so sharply and powerfully it gives a sense of a mixed feeling of frustration and an “of course” realization.  It’s also the melodic hook, delivered with such force, that helped make that song one that I listened to over and over.

    The remaining three songs on the album, I usually skipped--”You Love Me” for reasons mentioned in my opening tirade, and “This Is My World” and “Road Less Traveled” because they’re just too slow and mellow for my tastes.  All in all, this was not an album that I tended to listen to from beginning to end, but rather skipped around a lot according to my mood.  In this skipping, of course the fastest songs got the most play.

    So, there you have it...a 100% Nashville CCM producer-songwriter album that made not only my Annual Music Awards, but made it all the way to #5!  Amazing!

Her album has been re-released with her married name

Joanna’s second album, Patiently Waiting, was released in November 2009.  On this album, she wrote or co-wrote the songs.  Drew Cline remains her producer.  From the clips I’ve heard of the new album, it seems to have the same basic sound and energy of her debut, so I am interested in getting her second album too.

Joanna Beasley’s second album

August 2014 update:  Joanna Beasley’s subsequent two albums made my 2013 Annual Music Awards.  Click the images below to see those reviews.