The Generous Mr. Lovewell

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The Generous Mr. Lovewell
Studio album by MercyMe
Released May 4, 2010[1]
Recorded

2009–2010 in the United States[nb 1]

Genre Christian rock, pop rock
Length 43:07
Label INO
Producer Brown Bannister
Dan Muckala
MercyMe chronology
10
(2009)
The Generous Mr. Lovewell
(2010)
The Hurt & The Healer
(2012)
Singles from
The Generous Mr. Lovewell
  1. "All of Creation"
    Released: March 2, 2010
  2. "Beautiful"
    Released: September 17, 2010[2]
  3. "Move"
    Released: May 23, 2011

The Generous Mr. Lovewell is the sixth studio album by Christian rock band MercyMe. Released in May 2010, the album is a concept record revolving around a fictional character, 'Mr. Lovewell', and the overall theme of love. Produced by Brown Bannister and Dan Muckala, the album met with positive critical and commercial reception. The album sold over 88,000 copies its first week and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and at number one on the Christian Albums chart.

Three singles were released in promotion of the album, all of them reaching number one on Billboard's Christian Songs chart. Lead single "All of Creation" spent ten weeks at the top of the Christian Songs chart, also peaking at No. 14 on the Heatseekers Songs chart and No. 2 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. "Beautiful" and "Move" also reached number one on the Christian Songs chart, holding the top spot for one and nine weeks, respectively, with "Move" also peaking at No. 20 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.

Background, concept, and recording[edit]

The idea for the character of "Mr. Lovewell" and the album came up while the band was attempting to figure out concepts for the record. According to lead singer Bart Millard "we [MercyMe] were trying to come up with the concept for our next record. For some reason, the words 'love well' got stuck in my head".[3] Millard elaborated that "we're very good, as a nation, at loving well when a massive tragedy takes place... We all of a sudden become very unified, which is a great, great thing. But on a day-to-day basis, we pass up opportunities. We look the other way, or we try to ignore. So the idea of loving well is almost a kind of 'pay it forward' that revolves around the cross".[3] With that general idea, MercyMe was going to name the album Love Well. However, the band decided to make a character that personifies the idea of 'loving well', and came up with the character of 'Mr. Lovewell',[3] partly inspired by The Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[4] Because of the character and the more diverse sound the album was going to have, the band felt the original name didn't fit and changed the album name to reflect the character of 'Mr. Lovewell'. Millard has described the character of 'Mr. Lovewell' as "like Buddy the Elf meets Forrest Gump. He sees the good in everyone and knows his neighbors enough to know their needs. Mr. Lovewell may not be the next Billy Graham, but he’s changing the world each day in every little word and deed.”[5]

The concept of 'loving well' was further developed when the band made a trip to the Dominican Republic and were inspired by the resilient spirits of people living in poverty on the island.[3] When the band started to write the songs for the album, they joined the character of 'Mr. Lovewell' and the concept of 'loving well', creating the overall message of love that is present in the album.[6] Millard stated the band's dream for the album was "to inspire others to ‘pay it forward’ to the cross. It doesn’t have to be about major sacrifices. Just let your life become such that people know what you stand for".[5]

The album was recorded mostly by Reid Shippen at Sonic Ranch in El Paso, Texas, with the exceptions of "Won't You Be My Love" and "All of Creation", which were recorded by Steve Bishir at Quad Studios.[nb 2]

Composition[edit]

Music[edit]

MercyMe wanted to get out of their comfort zone with the overall sound of the album, and brought in producer Dan Muckala.[6] Millard has said that he initially wrote the songs on the album as poems and then the band worked on the music, meaning the band didn't think much about the overall length of the songs.[6] MercyMe further developed the sound of the album by looking to the work of The Beatles for inspiration.[3]

The songs on the album often vary in genre, with many falling outside of MercyMe's usual adult contemporary sound.[7] Songs on the album take influences from many genres, including electronic rock on "This Life"[5][8][9] and dance music/dance-rock on "Move".[5][9] "All of Creation", "Only You Remain", and "Won't You Be My Love" have a more general worship or Adult Contemporary feel,[5][9][10] while the title track takes a musical feel similar to that of The Beatles.[4][7]

Lyrics[edit]

The album's lyrical content generally revolves around a theme of unconditional love and a concept MercyMe has called 'loving well'.[3][6][11] Other lyrical themes include worship[5][6] and selflessness.[5]

Individual songs vary on the overall theme of love. "Beautiful" was written for the daughters of the band members, expressing the Christian viewpoint that Jesus saw something beautiful, something worth dying for, in everyone.[5][12] "This So Called Love" expresses the belief that all good deeds done absent of Jesus are in vain,[6] while "Crazy Enough" expresses the idea that unconditional love 'just might be crazy enough' to work.[10]

Singles[edit]

The first radio single released in support of the album was "All of Creation". The song spent 10 weeks at the top spot on the Billboard Christian Songs chart and peaked at number 14 on the Heatseekers Songs chart.[13] "All of Creation" was also ranked by Billboard at the top spot on the year-end Christian Songs chart.[14] It also peaked at No. 11 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.[15]

The second single, "Beautiful", was announced on September 17, 2010[16] and also peaked at the top spot on the Christian Songs chart, holding it for 1 week.[17]

A third single, "Move", was released in May 2011. "Move" peaked at the top spot on the Christian Songs chart, the third single from the album to do so, and held the top spot for a total nine weeks.[18] It also peaked at No. 20 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart.[19]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[7]
Billboard (positive)[4]
Christian Music Review A+[5]
Christian Music Zine B[8]
Jesus Freak Hideout 3/5 stars[20]
NewReleaseTuesday 5/5 stars[9]
The Christian Manifesto 5/5 stars[10]

Critical[edit]

Critical reception to The Generous Mr. Lovewell was generally positive. Giving the album four-and-a-half out of five stars, Allmusic reviewer Jared Johnson stated "If you only know MercyMe for their 2001 ubiquitous AC crossover hit "I Can Only Imagine," you've missed out on some of the Christian genre's most accessible and well-known hits – which means you might not fully appreciate the full artistic statement that the band makes on The Generous Mr. Lovewell, a daring reinvention that drove the band far outside its comfort zone and sparked a national social trend in the process,"[7] also noting that "the band's collaboration with Brown Bannister and Dan Muckala delivers the messages with authenticity and contemporary new sounds that make it perfectly believable to envision a world in which Lovewell's considerate and genuine actions are manifest in the lives of real everyday people".[7] Kevin Davis of Christian Music Review, giving the album an A+, opined that the album reminds him "of a classic theme album like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles or Songs For Jane [sic] by Maroon 5, both in musical diversity and with the challenging lyrics"[5] and "truly establishes MercyMe as the premier artist in all of Christian music".[5]

Kevin McNeese of NewReleaseTuesday gave the album five out of five stars, opining that "[The Generous Mr. Lovewell] takes the formula that MercyMe has perfected and drop kicks it out of Mr. Lovewell's window".[9] Brian Hall of The Christian Manifesto also gave the album five stars, stating that "when I initially heard the title for this new album, my mind instantly jumped to the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. While it is absurd to compare anything to that album, I feel comfortable enough to say that this is possibly the closest Adult Contemporary CCM has come to holding a match to it",[10] also opining that the album "is easily one of the band’s best records and history will look back on it kindly".[10]

Tyler Hess of Christian Music Zine gave the album a B, opining that "Mercy Me [sic], the mega-band that everyone and their grandma knows about in Christian rock, has created a tale of two bands. One of them creative, daring and all over the place at the beginning of a concept album loosely based on Mr. Lovewell, a Christian to be emulated for His love... The other being the status quo, exactly what you’d expect in the first place, leaving much to the imagination".[8] Roger Gelwicks of Jesus Freak Hideout was even less positive, opining that "MercyMe is still on top of their game... however, The Generous Mr. Lovewell is undeniably a pretty forgettable record, and while there are a few gems to be found, it's only going to appeal to the already-existent fanbase MercyMe has garnered after all these years",[20] also stating that "MercyMe still has great things to say and their musical progression has been adequate enough, but it's hard to see their sixth record as anything extraordinary and more desirable than their previous material."[20] Billboard reviewer Deborah Evans Price commented that "from the buoyant opener "This Life" to the brief but eloquent closer "This So Called Love," MercyMe's sixth studio album, "The Generous Mr. Lovewell," is a beautifully executed set that celebrates how the power of love can change the world... Music with a message has never sounded lovelier".[4]

Commercial[edit]

"The Generous Mr. Lovewell" debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200 with almost 88,000 copies sold in its first week of release, MercyMe's highest peak on the chart to date.[2][21] The album also debuted at number 1 on the Christian Albums chart.[22] The high first week sales totals were led by a lengthy pre-order campaign.[23] Accordingly, album sales slid sharply in its second week, with the album selling 18,000 units (an 80% sales drop) and sliding 20 spots, to number 23 on the Billboard 200.[23]

Track listing[edit]

(Writing credits lifted from the inner notes of the album)

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "This Life"   Bart Millard, James Bryson, Nathan Cochran, Barry Graul, Michael Scheuchzer, Robin Shaffer, Dan Muckala 3:44
2. "The Generous Mr. Lovewell"   Millard, Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Scheuchzer, Shaffer 4:10
3. "Move"   Millard, Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Scheuchzer, Shaffer, Muckala 2:58
4. "Crazy Enough"   Millard, Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Scheuchzer, Shaffer 4:07
5. "All of Creation"   Millard, Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Scheuchzer, Shaffer, Muckala 3:56
6. "Beautiful"   Millard, Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Scheuchzer, Shaffer, Bart Millard 4:22
7. "Back to You"   Millard, Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Scheuchzer, Shaffer, Muckala 4:11
8. "Only You Remain"   Millard, Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Scheuchzer, Shaffer, Muckala, Jason Ingram 4:51
9. "Free"   Millard, Bryson, Cochran, Graul, Scheuchzer, Shaffer, Muckala, Ingram 4:09
10. "Won't You Be My Love"   Thad Cockrell, Nick Kish, Bart Millard 5:16
11. "This So Called Love"   Millard 1:36
Total length:
43:07

Personnel[edit]

(Credits lifted from Allmusic[24])

Charts[edit]

Album charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Peak position
US Billboard 200[25] 3
US Christian Albums (Billboard)[26] 1
US Digital Albums (Billboard)[27] 9
Chart (2012) Peak position
US Top Catalog Albums (Billboard)[28] 14

Year-end album charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Position
US Billboard 200[29] 158
US Billboard Christian Albums[30] 6
Chart (2011) Position
US Billboard Christian Albums[31] 7
Chart (2012) Position
Billboard Christian Albums[32] 47

Singles charts[edit]

Year Song Peak Chart Position
US
Christ

[33]
US
Heat

[34]
US
2010 "All of Creation" 1 14 111
"Beautiful" 1
2011 "Move" 1 120

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
Awake by Skillet
U.S. Billboard Christian Albums number-one album
May 16, 2010 – May 23, 2010
Succeeded by
The Light Meets the Dark by Tenth Avenue North
Preceded by
The Light Meets the Dark by Tenth Avenue North
U.S. Billboard Christian Albums number-one album
May 30, 2010 – July 4, 2010
Succeeded by
Between Two Worlds by Trip Lee

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label
United States[1] May 4, 2010 (2010-05-04) INO Records

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ According to the inner liner notes of the album.
  2. ^ According to the inner liner notes of the album.
  3. ^ The band members' instruments are not credited on the album's liner notes, aside from crediting backing vocals and being part of the band. Their primary instruments are listed based on their accounts of their de facto primary roles in the group.
Footnotes
  1. ^ a b "iTunes – Music – The Generous Mr. Lovewell by MercyMe". iTunes. Apple Inc. Retrieved September 2, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Lovewell LIVE". MercyMe. September 7, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Copely, Rich (April 23, 2011). "MercyMe's 'Mr. Lovewell' has taken on a life of his own". Kentucky.com. Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved September 2, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Price, Deborah (May 29, 2010). "The Generous Mr. Lovewell". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 2, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Davis, Kevin (April 26, 2010). "Mercyme [The Generous Mr. Lovewell] (2010)". Christian Music Review. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Shadrix, Theresa (May 27, 2010). "MercyMe’s latest album brings fictional character to life". The Alabama Baptist. Alabama Baptist Convention. Retrieved September 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d e The Generous Mr. Lovewell at AllMusic
  8. ^ a b c Hess, Tyler (April 26, 2010). "Review: MercyMe – The Generous Mr. Lovewell". Christian Music Zine. WordPress. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e McNeese, Kevin. "The Generous Mr. Lovewell by MercyMe Christian CD Book Reviews". NewReleaseTuesday.com. NRT Media. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d e Hall, Brian (May 2, 2010). "The Generous Mr. Lovewell / The Christian Manifesto". The Christian Manifesto. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  11. ^ Davis, Kevin (May 17, 2010). "#114 – "All of Creation" by MercyMe". New Release Tuesday. Retrieved October 13, 2011. 
  12. ^ Davis, Kevin (March 9, 2011). "#195 – "Beautiful" by MercyMe". New Release Tuesday. Retrieved October 13, 2011. 
  13. ^ "All of Creation – MercyMe". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Billboard Christian Songs – Best of 2010". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. December 31, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. March 20, 2010
  16. ^ "MercyMe Music". Facebook. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  17. ^ "Beautiful – MercyMe". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Move – MercyMe". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. September 3, 2011
  20. ^ a b c Gelwicks, Roger (May 1, 2010). "MercyMe, "The Generous Mr. Lovewell" Review". Jesusfreakhideout. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  21. ^ Caulfield, Kevin (May 4, 2011). "This Week in Music Sales: Adele's '21' Marks Sixth Week at No. 1". Billboard. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  22. ^ "The Generous Mr. Lovewell – MercyMe". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  23. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith; Pietroluongo, Silvio (May 20, 2010). "Chart Moves: Lady Gaga, 'Glee,' Usher, Eminem and More". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 2, 2011. 
  24. ^ "The Generous Mr. Lovewell – MercyMe (Credits)". Allmusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved September 2, 2011. 
  25. ^ "MercyMe Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for MercyMe. Prometheus Global Media.
  26. ^ "MercyMe Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Christian Albums for MercyMe. Prometheus Global Media.
  27. ^ "Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Digital Albums for MercyMe. Prometheus Global Media.
  28. ^ "MercyMe Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Top Catalog Albums for MercyMe. Prometheus Global Media.
  29. ^ "Top Billboard 200 – Best of 2010". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. December 31, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  30. ^ "Christian Albums – Best of 2010". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. December 31, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Year-end Christian Albums (2011)". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2011. Retrieved December 9, 2011. 
  32. ^ "2012 Year End Charts - Christian Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  33. ^ "MercyMe Album & Song Chart History – Christian Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 23, 2011. 
  34. ^ "MercyMe Album & Song Chart History – Heatseekers Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 7, 2011.