Bethel Music Are Fearless With New Live Album “You Make Me Brave”

Review Date: 4/24/2014
Review By: Jessica Morris
Release Date: 4/22/2014
Rating: [usr 7]

Riding on the success of their #1 album TIDES LIVES, Bethel Music have released their highly anticipated new album You Make Me Brave. Recorded live over a three day women’s conference, the music ministry of Bethel Church in Redding, California, have released this album to give listeners a taste of the pivotal moments of breakthrough that occurred during their time at the Redding Civic Centre. Bringing together some of the most respected worship leaders and songwriters in the Christian music industry, Worship Pastor Jenn Johnson leads the all female line-up featuring the stunning vocals of Kari Jobe, Amanda Cook, Kristene DiMarco, Leah Valenzuela and Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger.

With many of the songs being written independently by the artists, the unifying themes of bravery, adoration and faith are carried through all 12 tracks of this recording. Opening with “You Make Me Brave” the quality of musicianship is evident as listeners are ushered into the presence of God with the use of the drums and electric guitar. Straddling the line between praise and the heartfelt worship we have come to expect from Bethel Music, the lyrics and delivery of Amanda Cook creates an intensity and passion that listeners can expect throughout the album.

Seemingly revamping a classic hymn in the track “It Is Well,” Kristene DiMarco uses the imagery of the waves and wind to communicate a message of faith; allowing the verses to compliment the chorus of the traditional hymn, “It is Well With My Soul.” The hints of folk sensibilities in DiMarco’s vocals carry through this track, and it is evident that there are three major players in the creation of this recording: the vocalists, the musicians and the congregation. The sound of the corporate worship is integral throughout the album, the congregation’s passion heightening the band’s performance and bringing the listener further into the presence of God. Jenn Johnson’s “A Little Longer” is an unusual addition to the collection, simply because the song has a melancholy sound due to the use of minor chords. This demands the listener to already be consumed in worship prior to the song so they can adjust quickly to the change of tone.

Forever” will bring you to a place of awe and wonder as you hear Kari Jobe’s sweet but powerful vocals declare, “Now death where is your sting? Our resurrection king cannot be defeated.” The congregational worship overlays the guitar driven melody, making room for free worship to follow in “Joy of the Lord.” The beautiful tones of this track as Johnson creates, teaches and worships to a new song in the space of a few minutes is a defining and unique characteristic of Bethel Music. Also occurring later in “Wonder” and “We Step Into Freedom,” these moments of spontaneous worship reflect the strength, vulnerability and adoration that encompassed the three day conference and reflect the faith journey of many women in ministry. This is particularly poignant within Johnson’s cry to, “Break the chains of depression.” The inclusion of this statement within the free worship adds an authenticity and vulnerability to the album which is rarely acknowledged to such an extent in live recordings.

Anchor” and “Shepherd” continue this theme, the latter using a synth tone and turning to major chords to deliver a song of victory. Independently both these songs are good, but the sudden change in chords does highlight the fact that many songs on You Make Me Brave were written in an individual context. Due to this, the transition between various tracks can feel unnatural. “We Dance” is piano driven and is lyrically simpler than previous tracks. The intimacy created within this song, formed largely due to the focus on Steffany Frizzel Gretzinger’s unique delivery of the vocals, makes it one of the strongest tracks on the album. Following on with “Come To Me,” fans will be delighted with the live recording of the popular track originally on the album The Loft Sessions. The rough editing in the introduction and excessive instrumental layering does take away from the song though, causing the vocalists to compete with the volume of the music. This is a conflict found throughout the entire album, the quality of the music and vocals being diminished through the seemingly high volume of the band. This may be due to the live recording, however it does somewhat take away from the quality of what is otherwise a beautiful and powerful album.

Filled with songs written from the heart of some of Christian music’s favorite vocalists, this album will usher listeners into the presence of God and will likely flood into the repertoires of worship teams worldwide. Bethel Music’s latest release You Make Me Brave is out now; pick up your copy today!

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