Hillary Scott and the Scott Family
Singer Hillary Scott is best known for her contribution to the popular country trio Lady Antebellum. This time around, however, she's stepped away from the group and invited her parents and a sister to join her on this unabashedly Christian music project. CCM stalwart Steven Curtis Chapman and country icon Ricky Skaggs make appearances too, as do bluegrass singers Sharon and Cheryl White. Their contributions (though Hillary Scott is the primary musical focal point here) have resulted in Love Remains, a blend of mostly original material sprinkled with several covers of older gospel hymns and spirituals.
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The album's confessional, prayerful lead single, "Thy Will," deals with Scott striving and struggling to trust God in the wake of a miscarriage. She sings honestly to God, "I don't wanna think/I may never understand/That my broken heart is a part of Your plan/When I try to pray/All I've got is hurt and these four words/Thy will be done." The balance of the song finds Scott alternating between honestly expressing her grief and emotions ("I know You're good/But this don't feel good right now/ … It's hard to count it all joy") and choosing to focus on what she believes is true ("Sometimes I gotta stop/Remember that You're God/And I am not/ … I know You see me, Lord/Your plans are for me/Goodness You have in store").
"Safe Haven" beautifully remembers Scott's grandfather, a man who left behind a godly legacy for his family. "He loved to read John 3:16/Tapped along to the hymns we'd sing/He left us so much more than earthly things." And though she grieves his loss, Scott still sings, "It's comfort for my heart that breaks/To know you're in a better place."
"Beautiful Messes" acknowledges that even though we have fallen ("Full of fragile, broken pieces/We're all rough around the edges"), we're never beyond the reach of Jesus' redemptive love ("Lay it down at the foot of the cross/Give it to the One who can carry it all"). "Still" likewise finds Scott admitting that even as she tries to trust God, she nevertheless wants to be in charge ("I believe that You are God alone/But sometimes I still try to take control"). What's needed in those moments, she says, is to be quiet and remember who God is ("You've answered my prayer before I even speak/All You need for me is to be still/And know that You are God").
"The River (Come on Down)" (featuring Sharon and Cheryl White) encourages listeners to "leave your past back on the shore" and to "run with wild abandon" to the metaphorical river of Jesus' love. "Come on down to the river," they sing, "Come be washed in the blood/And your sins will be forgiven by the power of His love/Come be changed by the mercy/That makes all things new." Similar themes fill "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)," which instructs, "Come to Jesus/ … Sing to Jesus/ … Fall on Jesus/ … Cry to Jesus/ … Dance for Jesus/ … And fly to Jesus."
"The Faithful Love of Jesus" (with Chapman and Skaggs) paraphrases Paul's prayer from Ephesians 3:17-19: "I pray you know the love I've got/the love that never leaves us/The height, the depth/The width/The breadth/The faithful love of Jesus."
"Love Remains" narrates the tale of a couple's faithful love from birth and childhood, through marriage, building a family and finally death. "We March On" exhorts us to keep "holding on to the hand that leads," even amid brokenness, loneliness and despair. "Your Unfailing Love" praises God's providential care for His children.
Covers songs here include Robert Robinson's 1757 hymn "Come Thou Fount," Johnny Cash's "Ain't No Grave" and Dottie Rambo's "Sheltered in the Arms of God."
It's not unheard of for mainstream artists—especially in the country genre—to put out a Christian album. Even so, I wasn't anticipating such a thoroughly Jesus-focused effort from Hillary Scott, a singer whose other band is best known for the intoxicated booty-call anthem "Need You Now."
But Love Remains is exactly that: Jesus focused. There are no veiled spiritual allusions or ambiguous pronouns here. No, what we get is an old-fashioned country album that cries out to Jesus for mercy, praises Him continually and points others toward His love and forgiveness. This is a beautiful effort, one that country, bluegrass and old-time gospel fans should thoroughly enjoy … and be spiritually encouraged by.