Music Review by Luchae Williams
Bethel Music co-founders Brian and Jenn Johnson released their third and highly anticipated studio album, After all these years, on January 27 2017, more than 10 years after their last solo offering.
The husband and wife duo shared that the new album was birthed out of a place of thankfulness and awe as they celebrate all that God has done and the promise of what He will continue to do in their lives.
“We wrote this album because of seasons that God has proved His faithfulness in,” they shared. “This project is the overflow and expression of that. We hope it inspires you to go after all that God is asking you to do.
“We’ve watched our parents and grandparents do this, and they have handed down a model that has influenced how we live and how we are dreaming into the future. Community, family, and carrying His name — that is the kingdom – and that is for every believer.”
Co-writing each song on the album, the duo gives listeners a glimpse into their own personal musical styles — which varies drastically from the more contemporary sound of the Bethel Music releases. The project is given a distinct edge by the contribution of an 80-piece symphony orchestra, which added a bit of drama and theatric to the overall sound of the album.
Jenn opens with the poignant At the mention of your name. The synth-based ballad comes across as being deeply personal and speaks about the power of the name of Jesus.
Brian’s husky voice is introduced to us in second track, Only Jesus. Both opening songs are simplistic in nature and you can immediately pick up that the album is unlike anything you’ve heard from the Bethel Music stable.
Rawness and honesty
The rawness and honesty behind track Gravity hooked me from the start as Jenn croons: “I get caught up/In all these petty things/Losing sight of what matters to You.” This emotive love song speaks about a God that swoops us up, away from ourselves and earthly cares, into revelation of His perfect love and peace.
This track reminded me how much I love the versatility of this worship leader, as she allows the song to breathe and listeners to catch hold of its meaning.
The same can be said for congregational Here I bow. Again with uncomplicated musical arrangement, Jenn sings about the beauty of our Savior, with a bridge build up that declares: “God of Heaven and Earth/God who brought me back to life/I am Yours, forever Yours!”
Jenn Johnson portrays a depth and wisdom as she ministers my favorite song, You’re gonna be ok — a track that showcases her ability to connect with listeners. This song of hope encourages the heavy-hearted to “hold on, don’t let go.”
I loved the spine-chilling I wont forget — another moving ballad, this time lead by Brian, speaking about the faithfulness of God.
The same theme can be found in congregational Greater than all other names, another track that will do well on Sunday morning set lists. Brian’s rich vocals, accompanied by strings and guitar, sings about the power of the cross, ushering us into a catchy chorus that says: “You are more than enough/You are mighty to save/You are all that You said you will be!”
Title track, After all these years, captures the heart of the Johnsons as they sing in awe of the steadfastness of the Lord. It is a beautiful ode to the faithful, unchanging God of their parents and grandparents. I appreciate that the song is delivered with a realness that allows listeners to receive their own fresh revelation.
The album is closed with the uplifting For the one, sung by Jenn. The likeable melody does justice to a lyric that speaks about the wonder and majesty of our Daddy God. I think it was at this point that I realised the album lacked your more upbeat songs. It was certainly not missed!
Brian and Jenn Johnson have chosen to share their testimony in this unpretentious offering. This album is definitely not a hodge-podge of popular sounding praise and worship anthems that have been thrown together and added to the same shelf as other contemporary Christian music offerings.
Mature and seasoned
It holds an underlying quality about it — one that suggests that each song was birthed out of deep wells that have tasted and seen the goodness and glory of God. This album is best described as ‘mature’ and ‘seasoned’ and if you’re looking for a fresh-listen that carries depth, then this one is for you.