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JFH Music Review



Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Hip Hop / Pop
Album length: 11 tracks: 34 minutes, 16 seconds
Street Date: December 1, 2023


"I consider myself to be positive," raps Isaac Peabody - better known as PEABOD - further noting, "Is being an optimist opting to not look at plot twists?" on "Press Play," the first full track of his new album, PLAY!. And he's right; in the Christian hip-hop world that the Seattle artist resides in, there is plenty of dark introspection and subdued emotional processing that certainly can be impactful, but definitely doesn't emphasize the joy that God's word calls us to embrace. PEABOD's second full-length, following a productive two years of EP releases, is emphatically a call to be an optimist regardless of how naïve it may seem -- to take wild swings in living the life we've been given, and to not "give one second of joy away." And, although it may be silly at times, the relentless positivity is ultimately something this reviewer really needed to hear.

PEABOD is generally known primarily as a rapper -- his bio describes him as a "captivating hip-hop artist and storyteller" -- and he's an outstanding one, delighting with his machine-gun delivery in the opening song and playfully dropping his register to lean into the more traditional modern rap minor-key beats of "DEEP CUTS," a previously released single with an incredible hip-hop earworm of a hook, and one that sounds much better in the context of the full album than as a standalone single. The music of PLAY! is consistently varied throughout, usually building a hip-hop beat-based foundation but sprinkling in surprises, like the power pop guitar elements added to the Aaron Gillespie-featured "START A BAND" and a soaring guitar solo to conclude the breezy mid-tempo banger "MAGIC HOUR."

I've described songs primarily in the first half of the album, which is near perfect; the energy level dips a bit in the second half beginning with the piano-based ballad "YOU ALWAYS FIND ME," followed by a trio of chilled-out (and rap-free) near-ballads "ORANGES," "HEY MAMA," and "PINK LEMONADE," which fail to hold up the first half's spastic energy. Still, the album closes at its apex, with the anthemic and uplifting "LIFETIME SUPPLY" -- a call to "make trouble, make noise, and laugh 'til it aches."

Reviewing my list of 2023 releases, other than Apollo LTD, it's been nearly impossible to find this kind of affirmatively positive sentiment even in Christian music, and it's a downright refreshing feeling throughout. Even the album's most introspective lyrical moment, "BETTER THAN NOSTALGIA," which finds PEABOD reflecting "I need more than a second-hand high from a memory / More than a way to get by, what's the remedy / Looking back is like my only tether, I need something better" is performed over a bouncy and highly danceable beat.

The biggest fans of PEABOD are likely to note this album's only real flaw, if you'd like to call it that, in another rather annoying example of the industry's current single-drip release strategy, you'll find that by the time this album drops in full, 80 percent of it has already been heard as separately released singles. Only the fantastic opener "PRESS PLAY" and "MAGIC HOUR" are unheard songs, which creates a bit of an underwhelming experience for what should be a hotly anticipated release by one of Christian hip-hop's brightest young stars. It's also a bit unfortunate that, given his exceptional mic skills, the back half of this album doesn't feature more actual hip-hop but, regardless, PEABOD's PLAY! is a delightful and necessary dose of joy and optimism in a sometimes-dreary world, leaving the listener smiling, nodding their head, and ready to press that replay button right away.

- Review date: 11/28/23, written by Evan Dickens of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

Peabod has done it again! In PLAY!, the happy rapper has turned in the perfect antidote to the struggling cynic’s soul. From the album art to the theme of losing yourself (and your worries) in play, Isaac shows the way to contentedness in all seasons: Joy. This daily choice not dictated by external circumstances, but a posture of the heart, is one I need often. I'm also glad to report that, although I'd heard many of the pre-released singles before the full album release, they hit differently when all sequenced together. With a variety of beats, flow, and plenty of singing mixed in, this album is full of surprises musically, while also remaining cohesive thematically. My favorite song is the wildly catchy "Deep Cuts," but "Lifetime Supply" is a very close second. The latter was an effective closer that hit me with a surprising amount of reflection, encouragement, and emotion stemming from the lyrics. It truly is one of the best songs he's ever made. Others that also hit the mark are the punkish vibes of "Start a Band," the dance-inducing "Magic Hour," and the duo of "Better Than Nostalgia" and "Pink Lemonade." All in all, PLAY! is an infectious dose of sunshine on a cloudy day, and a perfect-for-what-ails-you boost if you find yourself in a place struggling to see the good in life. Yes, Peabod, you're right, we need to remember to play -- and thank you for the reminder. - Review date: 12/2/23, Josh Balogh of


. Record Label: Roommates Records
. Album length: 11 tracks: 34 minutes, 16 seconds
. Street Date: December 1, 2023
. Buy It: Apple Music
. Buy It: (CD)
. Buy It: (Vinyl)
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. WELCOME (0:28)
  2. PRESS PLAY (3:15)
  3. START A BAND (feat Aaron Gillespie) (3:01)
  4. DEEP CUTS (3:14)
  5. MAGIC HOUR (4:22)
  7. YOU ALWAYS FIND ME (3:39)
  8. ORANGES (3:56)
  9. HEY MAMA (feat Don Ryvcko) (2:29)
  10. PINK LEMONADE (2:31)
  11. LIFETIME SUPPLY (4:25)
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