A music review by Luchae Williams
Christian music driving force, Bethel Music, released their highly anticipated live album, Star-light, in April 2017. The album features an array of the Bethel ministry’s more sought after female vocalists and worship leaders, with the addition of Fervent Records songbird, Francesca Battistelli.
The compilation was recorded live throughout the Bethel Music Worship Nights Tour and at the church’s home base in Redding, California.
Title track, co-written and performed by vocal dynamo, Amanda Cook of ‘You make me brave’ fame, is a catchy album opener with the modern take on worship that Bethel has become known for. The song speaks about our Father of lights, likening Him to starlight in the dark – infinite, beautiful and close to His children.
Cook also leads the vibrant You Came (Lazarus), a song co-written by Melissa and Johnathan Helser. It tells a story of a miracle-working God, with a particularly poignant opening line: “You stood outside my grave/With tears still on your face/I heard you say my name…” I always enjoy this particular worship leader’s spontaneous worship. The unprompted moment of worship caught and published on this album, is a track in itself, titled Breathe, where she croons “Worship is connection/we’re not just singing to the sky/we’re returning Your love song!”
Not all new
I was pleasantly surprised to find a few familiar songs on the album. Take Courage is one of them, led by another fave, Kristene diMarco. The song was originally introduced to listeners on Youtube last year and it became a heart cry to so many, because of its message that encourages us to stay steadfast because “He’s in the waiting.”
Another well-known addition is Sarah and John Mark McMillan’s King of my Heart. This track was introduced to the Christian music scene in 2015 and has since become an anthem. The soaring worship song, lead by Steffany Gretzinger, points us towards the truth: That God is good and He will never fail us!
My favourite throw-back on the album has to be Francesca Battistelli’s version of the 2010 Bethel Music classic, God I Look To You. This song, originally written and recorded by Jen Johnson, always moves me as we sing and declare that we won’t be overwhelmed because God is in control! I quite enjoyed hearing it on the new album.
Bethel Music’s ‘First Lady’, Jen Johnson, is only featured once on the album, with song For The One. The track was initially written for and released on the Johnson’s third studio album, After All These Years. I’ll admit, the version recorded for Star-light seems to be much more memorable. The simple guitar accompaniment and addition of strings brings out the beauty in the lyric and really helps you to focus on the singers rich vocal as she delivers a profound message of wanting to love like Christ does.
Christ our victory
Kalley Heiligenthal can be heard on the impassioned The War is Over. The song speaks about Christ our victory with a particularly powerful bridge that says: “It is finished/It is done/The blood of Jesus/Overcomes!” She breaks off into a spontaneous worship segment, titled I See The Light, where she refrains “I’ve seen the light/You’re on my side/You’re for me!”
Song writing livewire, Melissa Helser, sings one of her songs (co-written with husband, Johnathan and others), Catch the Wind. But more notable, in my opinion, is Hannah Mclure’s addition, titled Old For New. This track is much more congregational and has a strong message that tells of how God exchanges mourning for dancing, if we let Him.
Steffany Gretzinger fans will appreciate the album closer, Extravagant (acoustic), an acoustic version of the stirring worship track that she co-wrote with the likes of diMarco and Burn 24’s Sean Feucht. I was especially moved during the chorus, as she belts: “It’s extravagant/It doesn’t make sense/We’ll never comprehend/The way you love us!” Those lyrics, though simple, completely reawakened me to the unconditional, great love, of our Father!
With Star-light, Bethel Music has once again given us a collection of worship songs that are inspired and inspiring. Admittedly, the album leaves you feeling as if you’ve just listened to “another Bethel album”, and there is not much change in terms of musical variety or experimentation. But, in my opinion, the powerhouse vocals and excellent songwriting makes up for it. Bethel Music fans will thoroughly enjoy this offering.