Aaron Benward
Imagine


IMAGINE

?I love life,? Aaron Benward confesses unapologetically. ?I mean, I REALLY love life!? It is a confession that takes on added weight in the wake of a devastating auto accident that nearly took his life. Aaron was brought face to face with death, and death blinked. Aaron walked away with cuts and bruises, and a profound appreciation for the important things in life ? love of God, love of family, love of life itself. It is a love affair that permeates Aaron?s eagerly awaited solo debut IMAGINE.

Aaron co-wrote ten of IMAGINE?s eleven songs, resulting in an album that is deeply personal, running the gambit from bright, pop-inflected praise tunes, to intensely introspective love songs. Set against a sonic soundscape that falls somewhere between Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls and Michael W. Smith; IMAGINE passes seamlessly from crunchy, guitar rock, to keyboard-driven anthems. The title, according to Benward, says it all. The 26 year-old father of two explains, ?Philippians 4:13; it?s my life verse. ?I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?. God wants to do so much more than we can fathom or imagine. He wants our dreams to come true. Those things that we strive for, those things that are deep down in our hearts ? He put them there. He wants those exact things for us. It is a theme that runs through the album.?

Aaron?s highly-anticipated solo project has been a long time coming. Three critically acclaimed albums as the ?Aaron? half of father/son duo Aaron Jeoffrey created a demand for more, more, more. But Aaron waited until the timing was right before launching out on his own. ?The plan was for me to eventually be able to do my own thing, to chase my own dream. That was understood at the outset. It?s time for me to focus on my generation, and the one following; to make my own decisions; to take my own risks. It?s an exciting time,? Aaron understates.

IMAGINE is an album that almost didn?t get finished. With just over half the songs recorded, Aaron was involved in a potentially fatal auto accident. Sitting alone with his wife, trying to process the accident, he found himself listening to the one song on the album he did not write, ?God?s Here.? ?All of a sudden life took on new meaning,? he says. ?I realized that in an instant my wife, my kids, all of us could have been taken. And if it had been time for us to go, Jesus would have been there to usher us into the presence of God. But God has more that He wants me to do for Him here. All the little trivial things that mattered before the accident, material things, they don?t matter anymore.?

What does matter is a new found focus on his ministry?his primary ministry. ?I realize now that my primary ministry is not to the people who come to my concerts, or the people who buy my records,? he explains. ?My primary ministry is to my family. After the truck stopped flipping and came to rest on the passengers side ? when I saw that my wife was okay, and then when I looked in the back and the kids were all right, it was like I took the deepest breath you could ever take. I realized that it?s not about the car you drive, the house you live in or the kind of clothes you wear. It?s about leading my family as a godly man.?

IMAGINE, like the man who sings it, is a dichotomy of sorts ? at once intense and strong, yet vulnerable, sensitive, and unafraid. It is a delicate balance that Aaron makes look easy on the anthemic love song, ?Captured,? where he sings, ?The moment You set me free was the moment You captured me.? He displays flashes of brilliant, pop sensibilities on the evangelical ?Let It Out,? and experiments with some gentle acoustic flavorings on ?God?s Here.? And his innate sense of fun bursts forth on ?Famous and Alive.?

Lyrically IMAGINE plumbs the depths of the Christian experience. The autobiographical, ?Renaissance Love,? compares new life in Christ to the historical Renaissance, when the Dark Ages gave way to rebirth and renewal. ?Salt? and ?Let It Out? are straight-ahead songs of encouragement for believers to spread the good news of Christ. ?He Believes? and ?Make Your Mark? celebrate the high calling of God on our lives. ?He created us in his image, but He created us uniquely,? Aaron says. ?He wants us to dream our own dreams. He wants us to succeed. He wants to be the God of our hearts. He is concerned with us. That is way He died for us.?

As Aaron prepares to launch his solo he reflects back on things his father taught him; things that have now become a part of him. ?He let me grow up and experience God in my own way,? he says. ?I discovered my Jesus instead of his. He taught me to stay focused, to stay true, to communicate and to make good decisions. And he taught me how to love people, because Christ came and died for people.?

?I made a mistake growing up,? he muses. I had a great opportunity, to use my faith to be salt and light at my high school. Instead I was really submerged in my youth group and only hung out with my friends from church. So although my classmates knew I was a believer I didn?t know if I had any real impact on them. We as Christians have to get outside the arena of just surrounding ourselves with other Christians. That is a big conviction of mine.?

?The impact that I want to have with IMAGINE is to bring joy,? Aaron insists. ?I want people to walk away from listening to me with a renewed sense of joy in their lives. I want them to walk away encouraged. I want them to walk away having experienced a touch from God.?