It is a time of international civil uprising and community educational system failings and domestic violence has escalated into the most horrific incidents of parental manslaughter ever to splatter across the evening news. Franklin recognizes these soul-trying times as “moments” to seek God and go inward to excise the cancer of trepidation. “As a kid,” Kirk witnesses, “I struggled with always feeling as if I was living under a cloud of fear. I was often displaced by my family and never feeling settled…always harboring a sense of uncertainty. This album is my emancipation proclamation.”
The title track, “Hello Fear,” is a brilliant confessional composition that opens with the intimate scenario of a man so joined with fear it is as if he has embraced it in his heart. However, Franklin is having a heart-to-heart with pain this blessed day, invoking a dismissal of life-altering proportions the moment he decides to start his morning with the words “Hello Grace.” The second half of the chorus definitively pins fear to the mat to declare, “Never again will I trust you/I’m tired of fighting it’s been way too long/ No longer your prisoner—today I remember/ Who I was then now is gone (they’re gone).” It represents a long road taken to reach this divine arrival yet a hard-earned liberation that Franklin believes is possible for every hurting soul on the planet because it came to him from a very personal place.
“One day I was in the middle of a very bad situation,” he shares. “I was walking through the front of my house with this problem weighing heavy on my spirit when God literally just dropped the first lines of this song, along with a melody, on my heart. I sat down at the piano and out came, ‘Hello fear/Before you sit down there’s something I’d like to explain.’ That’s all I had for a couple of months. What’s funny, though, is that from just that idea, I knew I wanted to call my next album Hello Fear.”
In Kirk Franklin’s singular manifestation of music ministry, the album unfolds from that epic and penetrating prelude into a deliciously eclectic buffet of pieces that moves from the rope-a-dope cadences of the spoken word piece “The Story of Fear” to the angelic vocalizations of The Texas Boys Choir on the Heavenly interlude “Never Alone;” from the infectious D.C. Go-Go groove of “Before I Die” to the heartwarming, cello-kissed missive of blessed reassurance “But the Blood.” From the “Glee” like energy of “Today,” to the bouncy feel-good soul minuet “No God Like You,” all the way to the purifying and unifying “Everybody Hurts.” The fourth verse of the latter states, “Everyone hurts – but not for long / That weight you bare – will make you strong / Your guilty stains – can be erased / The final price – paid by His life – Amazing Grace