Gable Price and Friends’ new album may seem to some like a sharp turn in the opposite direction of the overtly Christian sound their fans have grown used to. The sudden subject change from heaven to earth has many speculating as to the reason behind it. One review in a popular online faith-based publication calls the new music “watered down.” Another commentator comparing the sophomore album to its predecessor calls it “safe” – due to its more hidden spiritual messaging – referencing the song Not Safe off the band’s first album that says, “He’s a good good God, but good god, He is not safe.” Ironically, those lyrics are a direct reference to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, a brilliant beloved book series where the message of the gospel is discretely woven into fairytales that never directly talk about God. Lewis writes, “Aslan is not safe, but good.” So perhaps these presumptuous published perspectives reveal more about the reviewers’ ability to discern spiritual substance than the music itself. I wonder if they also have yet to discover that Aslan is actually Jesus or if they believe the entire collection to be frivolous fiction.
But getting back to the music – I would suggest that what the band has done in The Consequence of Being Alive is the exact opposite of safe. Price and Friends were pretty set. Backed by Bethel Music with collaborations like Cory Asbury under their belt and connections like Jon Foreman of Switchfoot in their back pocket, there was literally no reason to change directions to ensure their continued success. But is that what’s even happening here? Is the 2nd album truly that different? Like the first, each song is a heartfelt, authentic overflow of the band’s frontman, who is now clearly in a very different season of his life and faith journey than when he began. It’s obvious in track 7, Jesus Christ (Hold Me Steady), that Price isn’t shy when singing about His Savior. Yet overall he does intentionally explore matters that feel more down-to-earth this time. Both albums are phenomenal for different reasons, yet contrast each other enough to make one wonder – what happened in between them? I suspected there to be a very powerful story behind it, which of course I had to find out for myself and the Tuned Up audience. Gable Price was vulnerable enough to share his journey with me, uncensored. And It did not disappoint.
Born and raised in the buckeye state, Gable Patrick Price enjoyed a pretty privileged upbringing. The ultra-conservative, scripture-verse-memorizing, homeschooled, virgin-til-marriage was the son of a pastor. With no desire to attend traditional college or work a regular job, his musical talent and love for God made music ministry the obvious career choice. But he also craved adventure and desired to brave the world beyond Ohio. So he and his father restored an old used camper that he drove to Redding, California, and lived out of while attending Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Shortly after arriving, he dove headfirst into his environment, feasting on the smorgasbord of spiritual resources the school famously provides. As providence would have it, he met the members of his band, recorded an album, the right doors miraculously opened, their career took off, and everyone rode off into the sunset living happily ever after – The End. Another awesome testimony for the congregation back home. *Cue alter call for salvations, signal the prayer team, and head over to the park afterward for a church potluck*
At least that’s what the singer might have hoped for when he set after his dreams and loaded his life into a 1977 smog factory on wheels – more on that later. But let’s just say the road to Redding was not an easy one by any means. The challenges began before he even made it out of Ohio. Price tested positive for an auto-immune disease. This became the source of severe joint pain and frequent concussions that greatly affected his quality of life and interrupted his school experience. He navigated these struggles the only way he knew how, leaning deeper into his faith, bleeding songful devotions. This entire first album in summary is a petition for God to literally shake him, transform his perspective, disrupt his routine, and “flood his world and fill the gaps” with Himself. It’s probably what positioned Price for the brutal and beautiful awakening that followed. He had no idea just how thoroughly God would answer his prayers.
Right after the first album’s release, mass hysteria broke out as the first cases of COVID-19 resulted in death. The pandemic had a polarizing effect on the nation, politically dividing people. Christians as a whole were seen as radical conspiracy theorists who opposed science. Price was unfairly associated with this image while having to deal with the people perpetuating it. As someone with an autoimmune disease, he was especially vulnerable. Fanatics shamed and pressured people like him to prove their faith by refusing to take the precautions of wearing a mask and social distancing. “How a lot of people reacted to the pandemic was painful,” Price recalled, “For lack of better words, people acted like jerks – a lot of cruelty masked as bravery. I felt out of place in Redding, and a little embarrassed to be tied to (Christianity).” The surrounding chaos seeped into his soul and sent him spiraling down a rabbit hole of questions he had never asked himself. For the first time, his faith was shaken. And as the world shut down, his began to fall apart.
The only thing left tethering him to his faith in God was something he calls his anchor story. Among all the ways God has shown up in his life, one incident stands out the most. That smog factory on wheels I mentioned earlier was in such bad shape, that after months of work and multiple mechanics no one could figure out what was wrong with it. At one point it would completely shut off whenever he took his foot off the gas. “We limped our way into Colorado Springs,” Price described having to hold down the brake and gas pedals simultaneously, releasing the brake to move only a few feet at a time. He was super discouraged because this van was meant to be his living space and transportation for the next few years. Ready to give up, he called a dear friend to pray that God would reveal the problem and save his van. While praying, his friend shared a vision where Price and his dad were in the vehicle playing a game of chess over the engine between them. Soon after, he and his dad went to a coffee shop and were discussing what to do with the van when a man overheard them and wanted to know more. They explained what was happening and the man got excited. According to him, that specific year, make and model had a unique issue that could only be solved with the strategic placement of five pennies. As strange as it sounded, they did what he said and it worked perfectly! “My dad and I were like … wow thank you, sir, what is your name? And he was like, my name is Chess!” Price lit up as he shared the crazy details of his impossible story. Chess then suggested they check out his gourmet lemonade shop down the road so they went there next. To their surprise, one of the employees happened to be a former student of Bethel, as if one sign wasn’t enough. Price replayed moments like these when his faith was on the rocks and always returned to the same conclusion, “God is real and He loves me.” Those truths are the foundation on which he restructured his relationship with God.
Before this season of shaking, Price existed within a bubble of beliefs that had not yet been tested through fire. Things are different now. Creating from exactly where he’s at and trusting God to use it for His glory is the bravest decision an artist can make. Making songs more relatable to the average person was not a move of cowardice or compromise in his case, but of consideration for those who don’t have the luxury of daily sermons and supernatural signs. It is for the person who is still searching and the spirit-filled Christian alike, inviting us all to look for God outside of religious boxes and discover how much He is found in our routines, romances, questions, and griefs. Track 1 challenges us to stop idolizing life’s highs while missing the lessons and love in the lows asking, “Why’s there gotta be an upside?” In many ways, both albums are two sides of the same coin. The question “Can we hear His voice in the sound of our brother’s cry?” in You Are My Country becomes a letter to Price’s little brother in Brother Jack. The offer of his rib to God in Midway Drive continues as the sacrificial pursuit of his wife in Tough Love. The album goes on to address issues that are hurting our generation. Treason unpacks the danger and allure of victimhood and the unnecessary suffering we take on as a false identity to feel seen in this world. Yes, he really went there. The lyrics say, “It’s a poke at the heart for the casual sake of the art. It’s a poke at the eyes so the tears can be weaponized. Is it really heroic to be broken on purpose? Is there some kind of honor to keep living in the dark? Is it really heroic to be broken on purpose? Or is it treason to your heart?” Every song on the album is masterfully produced with layered words that confront the human condition and champion the human spirit. There are no fillers. In fact, out of 32 songs, they had to narrow it down to 11 and these are what made the cut.
So go to your favorite streaming service, search Gable Price & Friends, and simply hit shuffle. You will experience the ultimate playlist for real life lived with Jesus. It is a full spectrum of themes that nurture every part of a person, with moments of abstract wonderment, spiritually gutting verses that divide bone from marrow, and humble glimmers of glory that “fill the gaps” of life. If you miss the feel of the first album and are wondering when the next explicitly worship project will be, Price said he doesn’t see that style happening again in the future. He always envisioned playing in bars, clubs, and secular arenas for some reason, even back before he truly understood where God was taking him. But wouldn’t it be just like God to flip the script again? Follow Gable Price & Friends on Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify, and join me on the edge of my seat to see what’s next.
Author: Gabrielle Solange