Music Review by Luchae Williams
I found it fitting to review the latest Bethel Music album, We will not be shaken, this week, as the collective kicks off their 4 city tour in South Africa. The tour, which commenced last night in Johannesburg, is almost sold out, with Durban being the only city on the itinerary that still has tickets left. I am excited that tour team; Brian Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Amanda Cook, Hunter Thompson and Kalley Heiligenthal, will be ministering songs from the new album at the upcoming worship nights – and there are so many good ones on it! The 11 track CD includes a DVD showcasing the video recording of the album, taken on top of a mountain north of Redding, California. The release of the album was preceded by a sneak preview of this film during a free worldwide digital stream in January 2015, as reported by Gateway News. With amazing footage boasting beautiful views and scenic shots overlooking Shasta Lake, I think that the spend on this CD/DVD is really worth it!
Title track, “We will not be shaken”, was birthed out of spontaneous worship during a Sunday morning service at Bethel Church. The song speaks about not being shaken during stormy times and holds powerful declarations and easy to sing melodies that make it a real congregational song. You will hear Brian Johnson on this one – which is one of the few he leads on this album. I think it’s really awesome that Brian and wife, Jen, are training up other worship leaders by giving them a platform on Bethel Music recordings.
An example would be the lovely Kalley Heiligenthal on opening track, “Ever be”. Someone had shared this song with me months ago, so I was completely smitten by the time I found out that Bethel had decided to put it on their album. She so beautifully sings ‘Your praise will ever be on my lips/ever be on my lips’ which pretty much sums up the hearts of those who love the Lord! It has a catchy pop sound and it’s opening words are enough to make one think this the perfect album opener. I can see why it’s a favourite of so many already.
Other Bethel Music album newbies are Paul and Hannah Mclure. Paul features on “Jesus we love you” which is an emotive worship song featuring heartfelt lyrics, simple melodies and an intimate feel. This is another song that can easily be introduced to a church congregation. Hannah Mclure leads “You are my one thing” – a laid-back, almost rootsy song, that is an ode to a faithful lover. Hannah’s bluesy vocal sings ‘Just to be close to You/Just to walk next to You/This is my one thing/You are my one thing.’ I love how “chilled” it is (for lack of a better word).
I also loved Jonathan Helser’s “No longer slaves”. This guy’s raspy vocal brings something fresh to the album with a song, which was thoughtfully written, speaking about the freedom we have in Christ with a bridge that boldly declares ‘My fears were drowned in perfect love / You rescued me so I could stand and sing / I am child of God!’ Goosebumps!
Hunter Thompson’s vocals on “Home” holds such beauty that it gives depth to the simple lyrics: ‘draw to me Jesus/I’ve made my heart a home.’ He sings it as if he wrote it – which he did! Definitely a heart song.
Easter song “Seas of Crimson” speaks about the power of the work done on the cross with a bridge that chants ‘Hallelujah, death is beaten / Christ is risen from the grave / Hallelujah, now and forever / All to You the highest praise.’ This track is poetic and a proper hymn, with a stunning melody and chorus.
Album closer, “You don’t miss a thing” features the talented Amanda Cook who eases her way into the ballad. She eventually crescendos into a bridge that really moves me! ‘You see it all, You see it all, through the eyes of love!’ Amanda’s vocal always holds such passion and at the same time, such a purity during the quiet moments, which I find so powerful.
I found this album to be one of my favourite Bethel worship albums to date and enjoyed that there are hardly any up tempo songs on it! I’m okay with the fact that it is acoustic guitar and piano driven and I think that the onset of violins and a cello is the perfect accompaniment to the sound that they’ve released. I highly recommend!